By Stephanie Beni
While other members of the LAMPE team have been busily investigating meaningful experiences and LAMPE pedagogies in the context of teacher education, over the past year, and in follow-up to our recent review of literature, I aimed to examine my own experiences of enacting pedagogies designed to promote meaningful experiences in elementary physical education. Working in a small school-based setting that combines privately and home-schooled students, I taught a unit of sixteen striking-and-fielding game lessons while planning toward meaningful experiences through the use of the six features outlined in our previous posts (social interaction, fun, challenge, motor competence, delight, and personally relevant learning). Through personal reflections, responses from a critical friend, and student questionnaires and interviews, I was able to identify a number of ways my pedagogical decision-making was being influenced by my prioritization of meaningful experiences.
For example, I found that my ability to prioritize meaningful experiences hinged upon my commitment to adopting the philosophy underpinning the importance of meaningful experiences, as well as a solid understanding of each of the six features. For instance, I allowed my decisions related to the role of competition in the meaningfulness of students’ experiences to be guided by this philosophy. When I noticed that many of the features were being compromised when winning became students’ top priority, I chose to eliminate certain elements of overt competition (such as score-keeping) to favour positive social interactions and opportunities to engage in personal challenge instead. Even students commented that this reduced emphasis on competition enabled them to focus on other important things including skill development.
The study also offered support for the role of autonomy-supportive strategies in facilitating meaningful experiences. I aimed to offer students opportunities to make their own choices at times and be involved in decision-making processes by, for example, allowing students to design their own games and skill development activities in select lessons and to make modifications to their level of challenge through, for example, altering the equipment they would use or choosing between striking from a tee or a pitcher. Students responded favourably to this level of autonomy.
While readers should be mindful of the unique context in which the lessons were taught as well as their games-based nature, I suggest these findings offer preliminary insight for other physical education teachers (and PETE educators) on the use of these six features to plan toward and facilitate meaningful experiences in elementary physical education.