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Student learning through interaction in physical education

Journal article
Authors Dean Barker
T. Wallhead
M. Quennerstedt
Published in European Physical Education Review
Volume 23
Issue 3
Pages 273-278
ISSN 1356-336X
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Food and Nutrition, and Sport Science
Pages 273-278
Language en
Links doi.org/10.1177/1356336X16640235
Keywords interaction, cooperation, physical education, constructivism
Subject categories Pedagogy


The creation of this special issue can be thought of as a cartographic exercise aimed at providing examples of current research on learning in and through interactions in physical education. Together, the collection forms a kind of map useful for identifying connections and conceptual similarities and differences between current approaches. As such, the special issue has the potential to stimulate dialogue and to guide future research and pedagogical endeavors when encouraging student learning through interaction in physical education. As with any project of this sort, it is expedient to begin with some contextualization. Over the last 50 years, following the work of prominent education theorists like Piaget and Vygotsky, constructivist principles have become a central feature of the educational landscape (Roth and Lee, 2007; Fosnot, 2005). This trend has led to a practical emphasis on providing students with opportunities to make decisions, work collaboratively, discuss content, and negotiate with one another to actively ‘construct meaning’ in physical education. Constructivist perspectives have provided an important stimulus for the genesis of policy decisions, scholarship and pedagogical models (Rovegno and Dolly, 2006, Wright, Macdonald and Burrows, 2004). Pedagogical models with social constructivist orientations in PE include Sport Education (Kirk, 2006; Siedentop, Hastie, and van der Mars, 2011), Teaching Games for Understanding (TGfU) (Butler, 2006; Kirk and MacPhail, 2002) and Cooperative Learning (Dyson and Casey, 2014; Lafont, 2012). While it is not entirely clear the extent to which these models, or indeed constructivist principles in general, are being implemented in physical education internationally, the volume of literature on constructivist approaches (Rovegno and Dolly, 2006), along with the frequency of use of terms like ‘student centered’ suggest there has been a significant shift in the way physical educators think about teacher-student and student-student interactions. This is a key reason for examining interactions in practice more closely, and an important starting point for this special issue.

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