Understandings and experiences of teaching and learning social and emotional learning and meaningful physical education in an alternative education setting

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Donal Howley (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Ben Dyson

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to explore understandings and experiences of promoting Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) and Meaningful Physical Education (MPE) in an alternative educational Physical Education (PE) setting. Continuing focus in general education and PE has centered on how SEL theory and practices are explicitly understood and implemented (Wright et al., 2020a). Simultaneously, there is increased advocacy and evidence of pedagogical approaches “positioning the personal, affective and intrinsic meanings of learners at the core of curriculum development and pedagogical enactment” (Ní Chróinín et al., 2018, p. 119). Yet, despite the rhetoric, PE has been observed as “yet to maximize its potential with regard to the development of SEL competencies” (Hooper et al., 2020, p. 140). Owing to this, there exists a clear need for contemporary PE curriculum and pedagogy development to better align itself with theory and practice in order to explicitly demonstrate the accomplishment of SEL outcomes and skills. Framing this within the concept of Meaningful Physical Education (MPE) provides the potential to support pupils in coming to value PE through experiencing meaningfulness and recognizing ways participation enhances the quality of their lives (Ní Chróinín et al., 2018). This could be especially valuable in alternative education settings where there is a general paucity of research focusing on evidence-based interventions to improve behavioral and academic outcomes for students (Flower et al., 2011; Kumm et al., 2020; Schwab et al., 2016). Utilizing social constructivist learning theory, conceptual features of MPE, and a systemic framework for SEL, three questions guide the research: 1) What prior understandings and experiences of SEL and MPE have the teachers and students encountered? 2) How do they currently understand and experience SEL and MPE within classes? 3) What impact do these teaching and learning experiences have on their understandings of SEL and MPE? A qualitative case study design framed within a participatory action research approach (PAR) was implemented in an alternative high school. Participants included the teacher–researcher, one PE teacher, a critical friend, two teaching assistants, and a class of 16 ninth–grade alternative high school students (eight girls/eight boys). Methods utilized include a teacher–researcher diary, post–lesson teaching reflections, interviews, focus groups, personal biographies, timelines, digital and written reflections, document/artefact examination, photovoice, and class artefacts. The Miles, Huberman, and Saldana Framework for Qualitative Data Analysis was applied, involving inductive and deductive analysis and three/four step process including data reduction, data display and drawing, and verifying conclusions. Thematic analysis was then applied (Sutton & Austin, 2015). Findings demonstrate how the implementation of democratic and reflective pedagogies explicitly and intentionally promoting SEL competencies and conceptual MPE features helped both teachers and students to develop a more holistic outlook on the purpose and subject matter of PE and physical activity within and beyond classes and their wider lives. Findings can assist researchers, practitioners, and policymakers in further understanding how SEL and MPE can be better implemented into future practice, policy, teacher–education, and continued professional development in PE to influence and enhance holistic teaching and learning.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2022
Curriculum, Meaningful Physical Education, Participatory Action Research, Pedagogy, Social and Emotional Learning
Physical education and training
Affective education
Alternative education

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