Implementing a tactical approach
Gubacs-Collins, K. (2007). Implementing a tactical approach through action research, Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 12(2), pp. 125-126
The purpose of this study by Gubacs-Collins (2007) was to conduct an action research project through implementing a tactical approach to teaching tennis. It was the aim of the researcher to gain perceptions of the teacher educator (the researcher herself) and her students to the tactical approach. 18 (10 female) pre-service physical education teacher education students participated in the project that was conducted during an eight-week tennis course that met twice a week for 90 minutes.
Using a process of self-reflective inquiry through action research the teacher-researcher explored the ‘products’ of the action research cycle by systematic and critical reflection on her teaching practice. Products of this process include the generation of knowledge about teaching and learning, increased understanding of teaching practice, which hopefully results in improvements in teaching and learning. The teacher researcher collected data using four methods: teacher educator’s self-reflection, pre-service teachers’ reflections and interviews and, finally, videotaped observations from lessons.
The findings from this study showed how even so-called experts such as teacher educators can once again become novices while attempting to incorporate a new teaching approach into their practice. The teacher-researcher at first was guilty of lesson plan dependence, and struggled to know when to ask and when to tell the pre-service teachers what to do. The teacher-researcher also noted that teaching using the tactical approach meant she had to make developments in her content knowledge of tennis, changing her focus from one on emphasizing skills to one that had a combined focus on teaching tactics and skills in unison to provide optimal challenge to the pre-service teachers who were the participants in her study. However, by the end of the process the teacher-researcher learned that questioning was essential to developing the participants success, as was the importance of conceptualizing the participants as partners in learning. From the participants’ perspective, the teacher researchers noted their initial apprehension in learning using a tactical approach due to their own previous ‘apprenticeship of observation’. The teacher-researcher further noted how the participants mentioned how physically and cognitively engaged they were in class, and how the tactical approach emphasized both a sense of fun as well as a sense of challenge. Indeed, this was true even more so when the teacher slowed down and began to appreciate their needs when teaching, rather than simply trying to get through all of the lesson content.
This study is a welcome addition to the research literature on game centered approaches to teaching. Not only is it one of very few studies to employ action research, it is one of the only papers that focuses on the teacher educators perspective of teaching games to pre-service physical education teachers, and how the tactical approach challenges not only the pre-conceived beliefs of the teacher educator but also those of the pre-service teachers. As many authors (e.g. Butler 2005; Harvey et al., 2010) now argue, the tactical approach is one method of teaching that can be employed to challenge practitioners pre-conceived notions of teaching and learning, and ultimately develop their teaching/coaching practice beyond safe, tried and tested methods.
Butler, J.I. (2005). TGfU and pet-agogy: Old dogs, new tricks and puppy school. Physical Education & Sport Pedagogy 10(3), pp. 225–40.
Harvey, S., Cushion, C, J., & Massa-Gonzalez, A, N. (2010): Learning a new method: Teaching Games for Understanding in the coaches’ eyes, Physical Education & Sport Pedagogy, 15(4), pp. 361-382.
Review Completed by Dr. Stephen Harvey, Senior Lecturer in Physical Education & Sport, University of Bedfordshire, UK