Incongruence between self-reported and observed senior physical education teaching styles : an analysis using Mosston and Ashworth’s spectrum

SueSee, Brendan (2012) Incongruence between self-reported and observed senior physical education teaching styles : an analysis using Mosston and Ashworth’s spectrum. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Pedagogical styles, methods, models, practices or strategies are valued for what they claim they can achieve. In recent times curriculum documents and governments have called for a range of teaching approaches to meet the variety of learner differences and allow students to make more independent decision making in physical education (Hardy and Mawer, 1999). One well known system of categorizing teaching styles is the Mosston and Ashworth’s Spectrum of Teaching Styles (2002). In Queensland, prior to 2005, no research had been conducted on the teaching styles used by teachers of Physical Education. However, many teachers self-reported that they employed a variety of teaching styles depending on the aims and content of the material to be taught (Cothran, et al., 2005). This research, for the first time, collected teacher’s self-reported use of teaching styles and through observations verify the styles that were being used to teach Senior Physical Education in Queensland.

More specifically the aims of the research were to determine: a) What teaching styles teachers of Senior Physical Education in Queensland believe they use? i) Were they using a range of teaching styles? ii) Were teachers of Senior Physical Education in Queensland using teaching styles that the Queensland Senior Physical Education Syllabus (2004) required? b) If Mosston and Ashworth’s (2002) Spectrum of Teaching Styles were used to categorise styles observed during the teaching of Senior Physical Education did the styles being used provide opportunities for evaluating as described by the Queensland Senior Physical Education Syllabus (2004)? The research was conducted in two phases. Part A involved use of a questionnaire to determine the teaching styles Queensland teachers of Senior Physical Education reported using and how often they reported using them. The questionnaire was administered to 110 teachers throughout Queensland. The sample was determined from 346 schools teaching Senior Physical Education (in 2006) across the state of Queensland, Australia. 286 questionnaires were sent to 77 non-randomised schools.

There were 66 male and 44 female respondents in the sample. A wide range of teaching styles were reportedly used by teachers of Senior Physical Education with Practice Style-Style B, Command Style-Style A and Divergent Discovery Style-Style H, the most reportedly used. The Self-Teaching Style-Style K was reportedly used the least by teachers involved in this study. From the respondents a group of teachers were identified to form the participants for Part B.

Part B of the study involved observation of a group of volunteer participants (from those who had completed the questionnaire) who displayed many of the ‘typical’ characteristics, and a cross-section of backgrounds, of teachers of Senior Physical Education in Queensland. In the case of this study, the criteria used to select the group of teachers to be observed teaching were, teaching experience (number of years: 0-4, 5-10 and 11 years and over), gender, geographical location of schools (focused on Brisbane and near area for travel/access purposes), profile of the students at schools (girls, boys or co-educational), nature of school (Government or Private) and the physical activities being taught in a school (activities to reflect all the areas of physical activity outlined within the syllabus).

A total of 27 questionnaire respondents from Part A indicated that they were willing to be observed teaching practical lessons. The respondents who volunteered to be involved in Part B of the study came from different regions across the state of Queensland and was not confined to the Brisbane metropolitan area or large cities.

From the group of people who volunteered for Part B four came from outside Brisbane and 23 from the Brisbane area. The final observation group of nine participants included eight teachers from the Brisbane area and one from a rural area.

The characteristics of the final group included three females and six males from private and public schools with a range of teaching experience in years and a range of physical activities.

Four year 12 and five year 11 teachers and their classes were videoed on three occasions as they progressed through an eight – nine week unit of work. This resulted in 24 hours 48 minutes and 20 seconds (or 4465 observations) of video teaching data which was subsequently coded by several researchers (99% interobserver reliability) to determine the teaching styles employed by the participants.

This research indicated that, based on Mosston and Ashworth’s (2002) Spectrum of Teaching Styles, teachers of Senior Physical Education in Queensland used predominantly one style to teach 27 observed lessons. This is in sharp contrast to the variety of styles 110 teachers self- reportedly used and in spite of the Queensland Senior Physical Education Syllabus (2004) suggesting a range of specific styles be used.

These results are discussed in the context of the Queensland Senior Physical Education Syllabus (2004), teacher knowledge of teaching styles and high-stakes curriculum and external pressures such as national testing and the publication of data from schools in tabloid newspapers. The data and findings in this research provide a rationale for improving teacher knowledge regarding teaching styles and the need for a clear definition of terminology in syllabus documents. Careful examination of the effects that the publishing of school data may have on teaching styles is advised.

This research not only collected teacher’s perceptions of the teaching styles they believed they used it also verified these claims through direct observations of the teachers while teaching. These findings are relevant to syllabus writers, teacher educators, policy makers within education and teachers.

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ID Code: 60945
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Cuddihy, Thomas & Daly, Craig
Keywords: senior physical education, teaching styles, Mosston and Ashworth’s spectrum
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Schools > School of Exercise & Nutrition Sciences
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 25 Jun 2013 06:48
Last Modified: 10 Sep 2015 02:45

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