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A comparison of class management in elementary physical education and the classroom : a qualitative study Zander, B. Dawn


Class management is frequently cited as a major concern of teachers, administrators and parents. Yet, despite these concerns, it has only been in the last decade that research on class management has taken a central role in the field of research on effective teaching. In the elementary school, teachers often have the responsibility of managing their classes in physical education and the general dassroom. The purpose of this study was to describe and compare three teachers’ class management practices in the classroom setting and physical education setting at the start of the school year. Three elementary teachers participated in this study. Using a qualitative case study design, data were collected primarily through observations recorded in detailed field notes and audiotaped interviews. A total of 26 physical education sessions and 34 classroom sessions were observed during the first seven weeks of the 1992 school year. The data were inductively analysed using a method of constant comparison. The dass management practices that emerged were twenty-nine management strategies and six class management themes. The class management strategies were divided into three classifications: preventative, guidance and consequence. Teaching episodes of transitions, direct instruction! demonstration, discussion and task work were also identified. The results indicated that teachers used similar types of strategies and themes in both physical education and in the classroom. Twenty-eight of the 29 strategies were found in both settings. Similarities were also found in the emphasis teachers placed on class management practices. In both settings, over 90% of the strategies used were prevenatative and/or guidance, 8 of the top 10 strategies were the same; and the rate strategies were used was highest during teaching episodes of transition and direct instruction and lowest during task work. Differences were found in the emphasis teachers placed in class management practices. Forty - seven percent more strategies were used in physical education than in the classroom; and safety guidelines, ‘withitness’ and ‘overlapping’ were emphasised more in physical education. It may be that the learning environment in physical education, with its physical movement, space and sound level differences affected the emphasis teachers placed on class management. The type of teaching episodes used in the classroom and physical education may also explain the differences in class management practices. This study has implications for teacher education programmes, class management research and general understanding of class management.

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