using reflective practice in teaching dance to preservice physical education teachers
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European Journal of Physical EducationPublication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/cpes19
Using Reflective Practice in Teaching Dance toPreservice Physical Education TeachersAnn Carolyn McCormack aa University of Newcastle , AustraliaPublished online: 10 Aug 2006.
To cite this article: Ann Carolyn McCormack (2001) Using Reflective Practice in Teaching Dance to Preservice PhysicalEducation Teachers, European Journal of Physical Education, 6:1, 5-15, DOI: 10.1080/1740898010060102
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1740898010060102
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European Journal of Physical Education, 2001, 6, 5-15
Using Reflective Practice in TeachingDance to Preservice Physical
Ann Carolyn McCormack
The need for reflective pedagogical practices in teacher education to enhance pre-service teachers' understanding of teaching, and to assist the link between theoryand their own practice, has long been accepted. This study sought to investigatethe use of reflective strategies to develop attitudes and skills in teaching dance inphysical education by a group of first year preservice physical education teachers(N=90) undertaking an introductory course in dance in an Australian university.Monitoring occurred at regular intervals during the course to identify any longitudinal
' developmental trends in attitudes. Inductive analysis of weekly journal responseswas undertaken to identify major themes or focus areas using the Reflective Frameworkfor Teaching in Physical Education (Tsangaridou and O'SulIivan, 1994). Attitudinaldata from questionnaire responses were analysed using SPSSPC and focus groupdiscussion data were transcribed and analysed for dominant themes using NVivosoftware. The results indicated an increase in the focus and level of complexity ofreflections and analytical responses in line with changes in attitudes and confidencein teaching dance experienced during the course. Significant gender differences inattitudes to teaching dance prior to undertaking the course and in the early journalentries were identified. Improvement in and value given to journal writing wasevident, however, some preservice teachers felt hindered by a lack of personalreflective writing skill.
It is universally accepted that teaching is a complex activity occurring in a complexenvironment (Britzman, 1991; Doyle, 1986; Shulman, 1987). The ability to thinkabout why and what a teacher does is vital to the development of intelligent practice(Richert, 1991; Zeichner, 1987). To develop this ability teacher educators caneducate preservice. teachers to become effective decision makers who are able totranslate pedagogical knowledge into practice (Berliner, 1985; Siedentop, 1991).This approach has seen worldwide attention given to restructuring teacher education(Campbell-Evans, 1993) to focus on the challenge of providing a programme whichdevelops reflective practitioners capable of critically inquiring into their ownpractice (Clandinin, Davies, Hogan and Kennard, 1993; Knowles and Holt-Reynolds,1991; Zeichner, 1992, 1993). The need for reflection has also been argued on the
Ann McCormack, University of Newcastle, Australia.
grounds of facilitating the linking of theory and practice and enabling preserviceteachers to take an active role in their own credibility (Calderhead, 1989). Thedevelopment of the skills and habits of reflection may be seen both as a means ofimproving practice and as an end in itself, a valid outcome of reflective teachereducation (LaBoskey, 1993; Mclntyre, 1993).
Reflective practice has been conceived of as a collection of strategies used as amechanism to encourage teacher growth. These strategies range from deliberationabout the practical aspects and content of teacher's work to critical appraisal of themeaning, in a moral or ethical context, of teaching activities (Redden, Frid andReading, 1997). Reflective practice presupposes that for teacher growth to occur, mereexperience is not sufficient. Teacher growth is a result of experience plus reflectionon that experience (Posner, 1993). LaBoskey (1993) developed a conceptual frame-work for reflective teacher education in which the act of reflection was viewed interms of the dimensions or aspects of content, processes, attitudes and teachingconditions. LaBoskey (1993) and Furlong and Maynard (1995) argued that thenecessary skills for reflective practice are not automatically available to beginningteachers and opportunities must be provided to develop these skills. Furlong andMaynard (1995) postulated that teachers move through a developmental pathcharacterised by a shift in focus of teacher concern. This concern begins withteaching behaviour and modelling themselves on others, moving onto concern aboutskills and content, then to focus on students and ends in a final stage of exploringattitudes and theoretical underpinnings of one's actions as an educator.
Researchers in the physical education field have also called for attention toreflective teaching practice (Tsangaridou and O'Sullivan, 1994) with many propositionsand suggestions about the specific aspects of teaching needing reflection (Dodds,1989; Tinning, 1991). However, there is little empirical evidence in the physicaleducation literature to inform practice or to support these propositions (Gore, 1990)and that which does exist, tends to focus on practicum experiences and methodscourses rather than the practical areas of physical education. Maybe it is assumedthat teachers of physical education are skilled practitioners who readily adapt to thelearning and therefore teaching of different areas of study within the discipline.
One of the traditional areas of preservice training for physical education teachersin Australia is dance education. Although dance has emerged as part of arts educationin recent curriculum statements physical education classes remain, for the majorityof students, their first introduction to dance education. Dance has remained animportant strand of study in school physical education programmes, however, forpreservice physical education teachers in their teacher education courses it oftencauses apprehension and a resulting lack of commitment to learning. These attitudesare commonly built upon beliefs preservice teachers bring from their own schoolexperiences and these have been seen to transfer into their inservice teaching (Clark,1988; Pajares, 1992). Holt-Reynolds (1992) suggested that the attitudes preserviceteachers form -about teaching as a student in schools over an extended period ofmany years acts as a "filter" through which they view and interpret the content oftheir teacher education.
Learning to teach dance requires the ability to engage students in experiencesthat heighten perceptual abilities, prompt decision-making based upon criticallydeveloped values, encourage diverse responses and above all, provide enjoyment.As well as requiring the development of physical skills and techniques, teachingdance relies on the development of a set of artistic values and attitudes (Klenz, 1995)not as readily attainable in sports. For the individual, dance involves artistic, physical,
mental and emotional functions. Dance is also often a co-operative endeavour, an artof socialisation for both the teacher and student and may carry with it gender, socialand cultural expectations. Again, these expectations are linked to personal valuesand attitudes (Klenz, 1995). Dance education in teacher education should thereforerequire preservice teachers to examine their values and attitudes as they developthe technical skills of creating, perf