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Learning programme design

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Learning through the practical at year 12


In year 11 physical education students are introduced to fundamental biophysical concepts and their application within varying sporting and physical activity contexts. In year 12 they are expected to use the knowledge developed in year 11 and apply it to more challenging and holistic examples. We want our students to understand how and why we move so that we might be able to apply knowledge to improve our movements and performance. We wanted to ensure that students developed their learning in a range of environments and could transfer such learning between different learning environments and different contexts. 

Our belief is that students choose physical education because of its ability to provide learning in, through, and about movement. We believe it is important to teach using movement as the context for learning (avoiding the traditional practical/theory notion of learning whereby you learn the “knowledge” in the classroom and then apply it in the practical rather than acknowledging that learning happens in a range of environments). 

Focusing inquiry

We begin the school year with the aim of continuing to build on the knowledge developed at year 11 by focusing on developing and improving performance, and to continue the learning culture developed and encouraged at year 11. We used the context of badminton.

We have two reasons for doing this. Firstly, starting the year with a context that promoted physical movement and interaction between students was thought to be conducive to continuing a unified learning community and class culture. Secondly, through the badminton context, students could continue to develop their knowledge of biophysical principles by using a different context and by comparing and contrasting how performance can be developed in a range of contexts. 

Students participated in the daily badminton lessons in which biophysical concepts were discussed and actively considered through the use of peer feedback strategies and tools.

We also discussed the impact of sociocultural factors such as how badminton was perceived by students:

  • Was badminton valued in the school?
  • Was it easier to develop ability in an individual context as compared to a team context?
  • Were the influences on improvement similar or different to other contexts etc?

Students also competed in a regular tournament structures as a way of fostering peer relationships within the class. 

Teacher inquiry

At the beginning of the year students were given course overview information and took part in adventure based learning activities to develop learning based relationships between the teacher and other students. 

Within a week of starting school, students were participating daily within a badminton context. The theory behind using badminton as the sporting context was that it is an effective leveler in respect to student skill ability. Additionally, it was easy for students to apply biophysical principles to the techniques they were performing on a daily basis.  

At the start of each lesson, students were provided with opportunities to make decisions about which aspect of their performance they wanted to work. They needed to be able to explain why this was the best use of their time and to be able to select and aply the most relevant knowledge to improve performance. Throughout the lesson, learning focused discussions would take place both in small groups and as a class in respect to the application of the specific knowledge they had used to improve their own performances.  

Students were expected to draw on knowledge they had used and developed in year 11 (prior knowledge) to enable them to continue their understanding and develop their knowledge of performance improvement in the badminton context. 

Achievement objectives that could be used as a basis to develop learning intentions

  • 7B1: Appraise specialised motor skills and adapt them to extend physical competence and recreational opportunities.
  • 7B3: Apply relevant scientific, technological and environmental knowledge and use appropriate resources to improve performance in a specialised physical activity.
  • 7C3: Evaluate information, make informed decisions, and use interpersonal skills effectively to manage conflict, competition and change in relationships.

Possible assessment links to achievement standards

  • AS91330 (PE 2.4) Perform a physical activity in an applied setting.
  • AS91328 (PE2.2) Demonstrate understanding of how and why biophysical principles relate to the learning of physical skills. 

Learning inquiry

Students’ prior knowledge varied. Providing opportunities for students to retrieve this knowledge and use it in a different context provoked questioning and meaningful learning conversations about content knowledge that wouldn't have occurred otherwise.

Students were able to identify gaps in their level of understanding of different biophysical concepts and revise them both in class and within their personal context as they worked towards providing evidence of this learning for assessment. 

Badminton proved to be a good context to use as it allowed students to start at similar skill level as only a few students had prior experience. This provided plenty of opportunity for discussion about what was helping them to learn. Students enjoyed learning a new skill together and this supported the idea of learning with each other, collaborating, and building knowledge collectively. 

Starting the year using a practical activity helped to continue the concept of an effective class culture, whereby peer support systems and questioning were used to continue to build their knowledge and understanding of performance improvement. This class culture ensured a safe learning environment where students felt prepared to ask questions and seek assistance when necessary. 

Learn more 

The inquiry process is a cycle in which teachers define what they want their students to learn (through a focusing inquiry), work out how best to teach it (through the teaching inquiry), and then look at the result (through the learning inquiry).

Last updated September 3, 2013