Pedagogical reflection and teaching qualities in physical education : an interpretive study of beginning primary school teachers in Hong Kong
Most of the empirical research work on reflective thinking in physical education is on promoting reflection in pre-service teacher education (Tsangaridou and Seidentop, 1995). In contrast, the purposes of this study were to explore the elements of pedagogical reflection in physical education, to examine the relationship between pedagogical reflection and `teaching quality' and whether reflection could positively affect teachers' values and beliefs in teaching and their teaching behaviour. The study was divided into four phases. In the first two phases of the study, nine beginning primary school physical education teachers were recruited with four of the participants then being selected to participate in the third and final phases of this study. The four participants were engaged in an intervention exercise that was intended to promote their reflective thinking. Data was collected on this process through lesson observation, video-taping, teaching evaluation checklists, interviews and workshops. Data from this study suggests reflective thinking intervention can promote the development of reflection for those who have the desire to improve the educational aspects and aspirations of physical education and there is a close connection between the development of reflection and the reflective practitioner's professional and personal development. Also this study reveals that changes and improvement in `teaching quality' are accompanied by corresponding heightened reflection. However it is also revealed that reflection and improvements in `teaching quality' among the participants were mainly on technical matters in physical education teaching. Deeper issues relating to the educational values and purposes of physical education remained largely untouched and unchanged. The study suggests that reflection can be productively modeled as a sequence of processes involving: analytical thinking, choice of appropriate action and execution of actions. It is suggested if any one of these processes is adversely affected, reflection and its development will then be impeded. Several factors, personal and professional qualities (such as knowledge of the subject matter of physical education, sport skill proficiency), physical education curriculum, school culture, colleagues and Principals and surviving the transition from students to teachers affecting reflection and its development were identified and discussed. It is also suggested there is a complex interrelationship between these factors, and that a more `situated' view of teaching and learning is required if we are to better understand the processes of becoming a more reflective practitioner. Finally, a hierarchy of reflective thinking development is proposed. There are different levels in this hierarchy though there are not rigid boundaries between them. It is suggested that beginning physical education teachers are at the initial level and they employ reflection as a tool to develop themselves professionally and refine their teaching skill. It is further suggested that after beginning teachers survive the transition from students to teachers, feel comfortable with their teaching and if they continue to have the desire for further development in their physical education teaching career, they may be able to progress from the initial level and move up (or along) the reflective thinking development hierarchy.