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Theories and Principles of Managing Learning Environments

A Critical Analysis of the Theories and Principles Used to Manage the Learning Environment Within the Sports Hall
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Amber Willis

on 2 January 2013

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Transcript of Theories and Principles of Managing Learning Environments

Managing the behaviour and learning in the sports hall with BTEC National Diploma in Sport level 2 students Theories and Principles of Managing Learning Environments Introduction Management and maintenance of the learning and teaching environment is that of great importance when ensuring effective teaching and learning has taken place. Fundamentally, it is the role of a teacher to devise strategies and activities in order to ensure that learners are achieving their full potential and learning outcomes have always been met (Savage & Savage, 2010).

LLUK (2007) have also supported this by stating that one of the roles of a teacher in the Lifelong Learning Sector is to Maintain an inclusive, equitable and motivating learning environment at all times (BS 1).

Rink (1993); Siedentop & Tanehill (2000) highlight that more specifically one of the roles of a PE teacher is to manage, organise and structure activities in such a way that, this will in turn manage the learning and teaching environment. If this is given careful consideration during planning and delivery, then in turn it should ensure that behaviour is appropriate and effective learning has taken place (Capel & Whitehead, 2010).

There are a vast amount of factors for a teacher to consider when ensuring effective management of the learning environment such as, time of day, location, large groups of learners, activities and ensuring they are fully prepared before lessons (Latham & Vogt, 2007).

The challenge that I faced upon teaching a practical lesson in the sports hall for the first few weeks supports the above statement with it being apparent that these factors could be potential barriers to effective management of the learning environment.

Once the learners had entered the sports hall it was difficult to communicate with them effectively in such a large room . It was also difficult to implement any structure to the lesson with learners viewing it as a chance to play a game of sport. This in turn impacted their theoretical perspective on the sessions and found it difficult to relate what they were doing to the theory behind it. The same group of learners that behaved well in a classroom environment and demonstrated competency in the subject were completely different when in the sports hall. Behaviour was irrational and the learners were hyperactive and inattentive the majority of the time and only focused on playing a competitive game of sport. It was clear that something had to change and strategies had to be employed, in order to effectively manage and maintain the learning and teaching environment within the sports hall. In order to try and manage and maintain the learning environment more effectively in the sports hall I decided to take more of a behaviourist approach to learning. This allowed me to make a behavioural change in the direction of learning and arrange the learning environment to generate an appropriate response from the learners (Merriam & Caffarella 1991). Behaviourism in education is thought as being an idea that behaviours and thoughts can be changed to suit a situation, if certain actions are repeated over and over again (Watson, 1913). Other theorists such as Thorndike, Pavlov and Skinner have conducted research within this field and each have their own ideas and beliefs, but still maintain the same original idea behind behaviourism.

Adopting this approach allowed me to become more of a dominant figure within lessons, which in turn significantly had a positive impact on the learners progression and ability to link the practical and theory side of sport together. Each lesson I arrange the sports hall to mimic a classroom environment by putting benches out in front of the whiteboard so that learners can see the learning objectives and participate in theory based learning before the practical.




















This, combined with adopting a social and situational approach and making use of demonstrations alongside the theory that is written on the whiteboard, has contributed to effective management and maintenance of the learning environment within the sports hall. However, alongside this I have also selected different teaching strategies to further enhance my own delivery which has also had a positive impact on the learning environment within the sports hall.

The above picture adheres to the ethical guidelines set out in the Plymouth University PGCE incorporating DTLLS handbook (2012). Behaviourist Approach Gibbs Model of Reflection (1998) highlighted that I was adopting a strong social and situational approach to the students learning.

At first I deemed this orientation to their learning most appropriate for the sports hall environment as it would allow me to ensure interaction for the learners in a social context and would be more likely to enhance the social participation in the session.

This was also adopted to promote socialisation and establish a relationship between the learners and the environment, which I also thought would be advantageous to enhance learning. It meant that as a teacher I would be able to establish a community of practice for learners as they would all be sharing a common goal or interest. Wenger (2007) identifies communities of practice as being groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly. I also considered Bandura's (1977) social learning theory when adopting this approach inside the sports hall. This was a theory that suggested humans learn through observing other people's behaviour and different attitudes. This was concluded after he conducted the Bobo doll experiment in 1963 which saw a child mimicking another person's behaviour and attitude towards a doll (see video) Other techniques to Manage and maintain the Learning Environment Within the Sports Hall Discussion
Concept Mapping
Coaching Amber Willis- 10427974
DLLS 477/677 Maintaining and transferring the learning environment between the classroom and the sports hall can be difficult Gibbs's Model of Reflection (1988) Concept Mapping Coaching Social and Situational Using Gibbs model of reflection helped to identify an initial problem with the learners behaviour and highlighted potential problems in the way I controlled and managed the learning environment. This was beneficial to use and allowed me to make a change to the way content was being delivered to the learners within the sports hall and implement different strategies to manage and maintain the learning environment. Moving away from solely using a social and situational approach to more of a behaviourist approach worked well as it meant that I could arrange the learning environment to suit the situation. It also allowed me to adopt a more dominant approach which in turn meant students would listen and behaviour was improved. I think in my future practice and teaching in the sports hall I think it would be beneficial to obtain a good balance between both approaches.

Despite taking a behavourist approach it is important to understand that demonstrations still occur within the sports hall as this is a key factor of effective coaching. However incorporating demonstration with discussion and concept mapping provide rationale and link theory to practice. This also provided greater direction with sports hall lessons.

Using concept mapping, discussion and coaching all proved to be effective, however for future practice I could carry out further research in strategies for teaching large groups of learners. It could be beneficial to look at work by Carbone (1998); Young & Patterson (2006); Killen (2006) and MacGregor (2000) in order to improve my knowledge base and provide me with a greater variety of techniques.

Word Count 1,560 Scales (2008) Gibbs Model of Reflection (1998) (see diagram below) allowed me to effectively reflect on my teaching practice within the first few sports hall sessions and identify where poor management of the learning environment could have occurred. Reflecting on practice in this way also allowed me to devise different strategies to use and identify factors that could be changed in order to succeed and achieve learning outcomes when teaching sessions in the sports hall. References Used to provide a theoretical framework in theory lessons.
Provided learners with a focus at the start of sessions.
Allowed learners to express ideas at the start of the lesson instead of interrupting during the practical.
I can check for prior learning and initiate discussion between learners regarding previous lesson. "Discussion is an orderly process of face to face group interaction in which people exchange ideas" (Killen, pp. 126). Discussion allowed me to manage the learning environment more effectively within the sports hall However... Can sometimes be more question and answer that discussion.
At times I take a dominant role instead of allowing student lead discussion.
Some discussions regarding rules and regulations of sport have caused debate amongst learners.
This in turn has had a increased effect on hyperactivity of some learners.
Discussion can fall flat if students are demotivated to do theory in practical sessions. Dillon (1994); Killen, (2006); Scales (2008) Allowed learners to devise spider diagrams and mind maps on the whiteboard in the sports hall.
Helped provide links to the theory.
Provides organisation at the beginning which has helped provide structure to the whole lesson.
Students can continuously refer to theory that is written on the board.
Aids with group interaction and decision making. "A concept map is a graphical representation of concepts and propositions" (Torres & Marriot, 2010)


"Concept mapping is a powerful learning and teaching technique" (Canas & Novak, 2008)

"Research has shown a relationship between student concept mapping and achievement (Stensvold & Wilson 2006) However... Has been excluding for learners with dyslexia who struggle to write down ideas.
One learner with ADHD found it difficult to carry out this task in the practical environment.
Provided limitations with critical thinking.
At times been time consuming if students are de-motivated. -If none of these strategies work out or the shift in teaching approach fails then I will employ an alternative method of reflection such as Brookfield's (1999) 4 Critical Lenses or Kolb's (1984) Learning Cycle to improve student's learning. - Bad behaviour and poor management of the sports hall environment with no learning outcomes being met. Students became confused when relating the practical to theory. - This made me feel demotivated to teach and upset that they did not understand any of the links between the practical and theory aspects to the sessions regarding rules and regulations in sport. - It was good to see that students enjoyed a change of environment and seemed to want to take part in physical activity. The overall behaviour was bad and learning did not seem to have taken place when transition back into the classroom and recapping on the practical sessions. - It is clear that strategies and a different teaching approach would be needed if effective management of the learning environment would occur in the future. I then decided that it would be beneficial use Merriam & Caffarella's (1991) orientations to learning in order to effectively ensure the correct teaching approach is used. This allowed me to identify that I was trying to engage the learners within the community of practice being the sports hall which obviously was not working. I then decided to move away from a social and situational approach and adopt more of a behaviourist approach, or even combine the two together to create a effective balance. - I also thought about the different strategies I could use within practical sessions in the sports hall and decided to incorporate some of the classroom methods identified by Scales (2008) in order to aid with managing the learning environment effectively and getting the most out of learners. " Coaching is the art of facilitating the performance, learning and development of another" (Downey, 2003). Sports coaching is said to be a method of practice consisting of inter related and inter dependant variables with sub processes and stages (Cross & Lyle, 2009). It is fundamental to maintain a high quality coach / learner relationship in order to continuously improve the athlete or learners satisfaction, motivation and overall performance Mageau & Vallerand (2003). -I have adopted more of a coaching approach in practical lessons as it is particularly effective in a group environment.
-It has worked well as it is non-directive, rather than telling learners what to do it supports and motivates them.
-Has supported learners in working towards lots of short term goals over a long period of time.
-Allowed me to build a good relationship with learners within the sports hall subsequently giving me greater control of the learning environment. -At times meant that the session is slightly informal and non-directive.
-This in turn meant learners have sometimes thought of me more as a friend rather than teacher.
-The weaker learners within the group have struggled as a result of taking a facilitative approach when coaching.
- If my motivation is low then this ultimately impacts motivation of learners. (Scales 2008) Bandura (1977) stated “Most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling- from observing others, one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed." Taking this into account, I thought it would be effective to solely use practical demonstrations within the sports hall. However, as previously mentioned this seemed to influence poor behaviour because learners that could not carry out a task became bored and viewed the session as a chance to just play sport. It also became apparent that learners could not make the necessary links between what they were doing practically and the theory that had previously been taught within the classroom. Description Feelings Evaluation Analysis Conclusion Action Plan
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