Scenario of Physical Education Curriculum in Italy
In Italy, Physical Education curriculum is assigned to generalist teachers in primary school. As a consequence, PE lessons are often delivered without following a model-based instructional plan and the relative effects on students' stated learning outcomes and physical activity levels are not fully satisfactory. To overcome the aforementioned issues, several projects have been proposed by the Italian Ministry of Education and the Italian National Olympics Committee to promote appropriate physical education programs, especially in the last two years of the primary school (8- and 9-years old children). These projects aimed to support teachers during their lessons with the involvement of experts who were well-trained in physical activity and sport sciences. However, the outcomes resulted from these projects are not fully positive and, due to the COVID-19, these projects have not been carried out in the last two years. Novelty projects seem to be under design by the actual government for reinforcing the teaching of physical education in primary school. On the contrary, in secondary schools PE curriculum is assigned to teachers who are well-trained in physical activity and sport education. In these contexts, PE teachers normally follow a skill-oriented and direct instructional model and the command is the teaching style used the most. Sport technique is normally taught by means of a decontextualized approach and, in some case, students are free to play the most popular sports without specific limitations or adaptations during PE lesson. Clearly, in the last two years there have been several limitations to these lessons due to Covid-19 pandemic.
The use of Game-Centered Approach in Italy
As mentioned above, the teaching models used the most in Italian physical education courses in secondary school are the Direct Instruction model or, some time, Personalized System for Instruction model. In this last case, the teachers use their personal experience as sport coach to teach technique-oriented elements throughout their physical education lessons. On the contrary, in primary school physical education is often thought by generalist teachers who don’t follow specific instructional models. Recently, mainly due to the relationship between university researchers and local school communities, the Tactical Games Model has been proposed as an instructional model to organize and delivery some parts of the curriculum in some projects applied to physical education both primary than in secondary school. Specifically, the TGM has been used to organize a plan, three months long, for teaching the fundamentals of volleyball in the first year of a secondary school. The effects of this research-action project have been assessed on some psychomotor and affective stated learning outcomes and the obtained results were positive for both the domains. In another case, a TGM-based plan was used to teach the fundamentals of the net games in the last two classes of three primary schools. The outcomes of this project are under analysis, but both the teachers than the students show interest in the use of this new model and ensured full participation throughout the lessons.