The effect of a content knowledge teacher professional workshop on enacted pedagogical content knowledge and student learning in a throwing unit

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Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy







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Background: Recent studies have found the effects of improvements in teachers’ content knowledge (CK) on enacted pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) and student learning outcomes. However, there is little research exploring the relationship between PCK and student learning in an individual fundamental motor skill-based elementary physical education setting. Purpose: The primary focus of this study was to examine the influence of teacher content knowledge (i.e. CCK and SCK) and teacher’s knowledge of student’s developmental stages on enacted PCK in the context of a physical education class. A secondary aim of this study was to examine the influence of teachers’ instruction (enacted PCK) of a four-day throwing unit on a student’s throwing performance. Participants and setting: Two physical education (PE) teachers were randomly selected from two public, suburban, mid-sized elementary schools in a southwestern city. A total of 122 (M age = 7.42; SD = 0.49) first (n = 70, 36 girls and 34 boys) and second-grade (n = 52, 29 girls and 23 boys) student participants from mid-sized elementary schools in a southwestern city in the United States participated in this study. Data Collection: A within-subjects design was utilized to examine the changes of the teachers’ PCK prior to and following a professional development workshop and their students’ throwing performance. Each of the two elementary PE teachers had six 1st grade and six 2nd grade classes. From the list of six classes taught by the individual teacher, two classes were randomly assigned to either a comparison condition (one 1st grade and one 2nd grade; n = 61, 34 girls and 27 boys) and an experimental condition (one 1st grade and one 2nd grade; n = 61, 34 girls and 27 boys) groups. Data Analysis: There were three phases to this study. The first involved implementation of the comparison condition; in the second, a professional development workshop was delivered to the teachers; lastly, the experimental condition was assigned. The four PCK variables measured were, for teachers, (1) task representation, (2) task demonstration, (3) feedback, and (4) task modification alignment and, for students, throwing performance (ball velocity). Descriptive statistics (i.e. means and frequencies) were used to analyze teaching behaviors, and an independent samples t-test based on the highest ball velocity score was used to examine the influence of the teachers’ PCK on students’ learning of overhand throwing. Cohen’s d (1988) was utilized to report effect sizes of teachers’ PCK. Results: Teachers’ PCK changed as a function of their CK and knowledge of students, with effect sizes ranging from 1.49–7.23. Furthermore, improvement in the teachers’ PCK was associated with students’ improved throwing performance (p =.000). Conclusion: The findings of this study suggest that teachers’ PCK behaviors can be changed by increasing their CK and knowledge of their students and that this improvement in PCK can result in better student learning outcomes.


children, fundamental motor skills, motor development, Physical education teacher education (PETE), professional development