Engaging Disengaged Students – Physical Literacy Conference 2013

Published: 12th June 2013

The purpose of this paper was to establish possible social and psychological factors that affect female pupil motivation levels within Key Stage 3 (KS3) Basketball Physical Education lessons. The social and psychological factors affecting motivation that also contributed to pupil’s disengagement and low-level disruption included; gender and social identity, age, motivational source and ability, and subject delivery.

An action research project was carried out in order to investigate the impact of selected teaching strategies aimed at addressing and reducing the significance of the social and psychological factors affecting pupil motivation. The teaching strategies selected for use within the action research project included co-construction, collaborative learning, scaffolding and pupil groupings. These were chosen to encourage and facilitate personalised learning and active engagements, whilst promoting changes in behaviour by increasing pupil motivation levels and reducing the impact of the social and psychological factors affecting motivation.

The results of the action research project found that the combination of co-construction, collaborative learning and scaffolding, along with optimal groupings developed and improved motivation, effort and engagement levels within this particular class. The teaching strategies implemented improved engagement, effort and motivation levels as it facilitated a more pupil centred approach to teaching and learning as well as facilitating active engagement. Barriers to learning and motivation were broken using teaching strategies to redefine gender and social stereotypes, allowing their sense of self to be preserved and protected from negative comparisons and comments by peers.

The difficulties highlighted throughout the study included striking the right balance between teacher led and pupil led activities, the context of the enquiry based learning, and the delivery and implementation of the scaffolding and co-construction models. Group dynamics also played a vital role on the impact of teaching strategies, motivation, effort and achievement levels. This project was successful due to the context of the unit of work was focused around pupil creativity with a task and mastery approach to learning, as opposed to physical skill and an ego orientated approach to learning. The conclusions drawn from this research suggest that teaching strategies should be tailored to suit the needs of the pupils within any given class, personalising learning wherever possible. Being flexible in how teachers teach and therefore how pupils learn, is essential in being able to adapt the delivery in order to impart knowledge most effectively, whilst understanding and catering for the social and psychological factors affecting pupil motivation.

In summary, there is a positive impact on motivating disengaged pupils within KS3 core basketball physical education lessons, when co-construction, collaborative learning, scaffolding and careful consideration of pupil groupings are used as teaching strategies to improve pupil motivation levels in subject delivery. Gender and social identity, age, motivational source and ability, and subject delivery also need to be considered in order to facilitate a learning environment conducive to learning.

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