|Abstract or Summary
- Most students arrive at game-focused physical education (PE) with neither the skills nor the tactical knowledge to be successful (Metzler, 2000). Although the Teaching Games for Understanding (TGFU) approach can enhance both on- and off-the-ball skills in game play performance (Griffin et al., 1995; Harvey et al., in review, Harvey 2003; Mitchell et al., 1995) results from previous research examining TGFU’s effectiveness in PE settings have been equivocal. The present study was conducted to a) examine whether an 11-13 lesson unit of soccer taught using the TGFU approach would improve the Game Performance (GP) and Game Understanding (GU) of grade six PE students; and b) assess the relationship between GP and GU. Using a single subject, delayed multiple baseline design, three students (a higher-, moderate- and lower-skilled student) were randomly selected from four different grade six (11-12 years) PE classes (n=12). Data were collected on eight measures of GP (using the Game Performance Assessment Instrument, [GPAI]) and three measures of GU (using a modified version of the Verbal Protocol Analysis [VPA] technique). Students were followed over an 11-13 soccer unit taught using the TGFU approach. Elements of GP were formulated into four GP indices: Decision Making Index (DMI); Skill Execution Index (SEI); overall Game Performance Index (GPI); and Game Involvement (GI). The latter GI Index was further divided into appropriate/inappropriate on- and off-the-ball actions. All GP data were plotted graphically and analyzed visually using standard analytic criteria. Developments in the total, variety (i.e. ‘goal’, ‘condition’, action etc), and level of sophistication (i.e. ‘0’, ‘1’, ‘2’ and ‘3’) of coded verbal statements from the VPA GU task were assessed using a series of 12 separate repeated measures ANOVA’s. The relationship between the GP and GU was also assessed using a Pearson correlation. All GP indices and GI remained somewhat variable between the baseline and intervention phases of the study and no individual participants improved on all GP and/or GI indices. However, 10 of the 12 participants improved at least one aspect of their GP, with seven improving their SEI, four their DMI and six their GPI when compared to baseline. Furthermore, nine of the 12 participants improved either their appropriate GI or reduced their inappropriate GI when compared to baseline, with 10 if the 12 participants improving their on-the-ball GI and five of 12 their off-the-ball GI when compared to baseline. In the VPA GU task, findings were also variable. Participants significantly increased the total number of coded verbal statements, and the use of condition ‘if’ and ‘then’ statements. In addition, they significantly decreased their use of affective ‘opinion’ statements. However, participants also demonstrated minimal improvements in their use of more sophisticated descriptions of the game play action. Finally, there appears to be no strong link between the way in which GP and GU emerges and/or develops, at least within the limitations of this study (i.e. such as the small sample size and the short duration of the learning period. However, a TGFU-based unit of soccer, focused on teaching both on- and off-the-ball elements of game play, is associated with developments in participants’ GP and GI indices across participants from high, moderate and low skill levels. Moreover, although some improvements in GU were also observed (i.e. in terms of the variety, level of sophistication and total numbers of coded statements), these were less likely to discriminate skill levels than measures of GP.