With Physical Education (PE) having written components at all levels, especially levels
two and three, it has become increasingly important for students to be able to
reflect on the research process they have been working on, in the context of their PE
learning. It comes down to students being able to support their experience and reflection with evidence, tackling the theoretical component of their work by drawing on our subject’s academic literature. The unit I will focus on relates to students planning either a coaching experience or an activity involving themselves and/or their group.

Being part of the Information Literacy Spaces project has helped me unpack the research process, starting from an initial research question right through to students submitting work underpinned by a strong literature base. Each part of the process needs to be overtly taught and, so far, I have observed a considerable difference to the overall quality of the teaching and learning of this course, when compared to previous years.

So far the biggest thing I have gained is the reinforcement of the importance of reading. Once our librarian Lynda opened up a whole new world of finding relevant information, introducing students to specific search terms and sites more likely to yield academic literature related to coaching, the students were able to more thoroughly justify how their sources were useful for the work they were undertaking. The fact that students had to do this before they moved independently to their actual task meant that I was guaranteed they had sufficient relevant information to be able to proceed. Following on from this I have created many more opportunities for the students to undertake subject-specific reading where they have shared their understandings in a variety of contexts. Through doing this I have seen the depth of their understanding grow.

As I lock in these new strategies, I am now looking to build on these with writing strategies to enable students to accurately, effectively, and confidently communicate their evidence-based findings. Writing brings it all together: combining theory, academic literature and personal reflections with our subject’s practical contexts. Knowing how to find specific sources, and reading and understanding how they support the theoretical components of their work, has given students a deeper understanding of what they are trying to achieve. The next step for me is to learn how to unpack the writing process and create a pathway that provides students with the confidence and ability to record their deeper understanding in written form. Through integrating writing instruction into assessment tasks, I hope to embed this into their long-term learning.

Gareth Wright
HoD Physical Education, Whanganui City College