Source: Teaching and Teacher Education, Volume 29 (2013), p. 64-75.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
The purpose of this study was to develop a training for physical education (PE) teachers on how to create a need-supportive learning environment.
This article described how researchers and experienced secondary school PE teachers closely collaborated to develop a continuous professional development (CPD) training grounded in Self-Determination Theory’s principles of need-supportive teaching.
The systematic and research-based development and optimization process occurred as an iterative design process featuring cycles of planning, implementation, response and revision in close collaboration with experienced in-service PE teachers.
The participants were 35 physical education teachers from four different secondary schools in Flanders.
Data were collected through appreciation questionnaire and four focus groups discussions.
The findings suggest that teachers highly valued opportunities for active participation, collaboration and experiential learning (e.g. microteaching).
Specifically, teachers are given the opportunity to update their knowledge and skills through the dissemination of applicable information by experts in the field, that is, a motivational psychologist and a university teacher in PE pedagogy.
Furthermore, along the training there is room for active participation and collaborative activities, such as (spontaneous) conversations with colleagues and like-minded peers from other institutions, and microteaching, which allow teachers to reflect on their own and others’ practice and to learn from each other.
In addition, although the CPD literature tends to report that ‘theory’ is too removed from practice and that CPD should focus on specific, classroom-based knowledge the PE teachers in this study placed essential value to the theoretical background information as a starting point for the training. They highly appreciated the theoretical background information to be able to understand and follow the rest of the training.
The Self-Determination Theory seemed to make sense to the teachers because its concepts fit with teachers’ personal life experiences and their interactions with students.
The findings indicate that not only the theory itself but especially the way the theory was translated into practice was appealing.
Specifically, teachers appreciated the use of didactical materials (e.g., cases, video images of authentic PE classes), the provision of opportunities for active participation and collaboration throughout the training, and the possibility to directly apply the proposed strategies in a setting that is close to their authentic work (i.e. microteaching).