Pre-service physical education teachers’ experience of fitness testing in educational settings

Date

2023-04-19

Authors

Doherty, Brooke Elizabeth

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Abstract

Health-related fitness testing (HRFT) is not often utilized in the college setting, despite studies showing a sharp decline in physical activity (PA) between high school and college. The designed goal of HRFT is to motivate students to lead healthy and active lives. In K-12, research has identified the school physical education (PE) teachers as having a vital role in administering and setting the tone for the testing process. Due to the impact that PE teachers can have on their students, it is important to examine pre-service physical education teachers (PPETs)’ experiences and preparation of HRFT implementation. However, to date, our understanding about this topic is very limited. As such, there is a need to examine this strand of research to understand if PPETs are adequately prepared to administer HRFT, in a state where has required HRFT by the state of law.
The purpose of this study was to investigate PPETs’ previous and current perceptions on HRFT in schools and their level of readiness for implementing HRFT in the field. Guided by the dilemma theory, through semi-structured interviews, field observations, online discussions, and an online questionnaire, data were gathered from three PPETs enrolled in a large state university. A constant content comparison method was used to analyze the data. The following themes emerged. The first main theme, highlighting the conceptual dilemma, positive fitness testing perceptions based on appreciation for PA in K-12 programs with the lack of a thorough understanding about the real purposes of fitness testing, had one subtheme: (a) outstanding fitness testing and PA experience from athletics instead of PE, and lack of a deep understanding of the purposes of fitness testing. The second main theme, related to both the conceptual and pedagogical dilemmas, PETE provided strong content knowledge and teaching practices concerning HRFT in PE programs had two subthemes: (a) PPETs understand the fitness testing content and (b) PPETs learned how to grade student fitness testing performance. The third and final main theme, grounded in the pedagogical, cultural, and political dilemmas, lack of preparation for administering fitness testing in the field had three subthemes: (a) PPETs struggle to identify potential barriers and solutions with stakeholders and administration, (b) PPETs lack differentiation skills and motivation, and (c) PPETs had few opportunities to observe cooperating teachers (CTs’) HRFT practice during their student teaching. The results showed that the PPETs each had a positive experience HRFT as a child and developed content knowledge and teaching skills through the Physical Education Teacher Education program at their university. However, significant gaps in their learning were identified, most notably due to a lack of HRFT observations and field experience during their student teaching. It is concluded that the PPETs are not well prepared to administer HRFT on their own in the field or accommodate for a diverse group of students with different backgrounds and interests.

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