Background/Purpose Understanding characteristics of game play at diverse levels can provide physical educators with insight for reasonable expectations to support students' desire to play. French and McPherson (2004) suggested more research is needed to better understand response-selection processes and to determine how to facilitate development of knowledge base for novices. This study, part of a larger study, used an information-processing framework to examine novices' decision-making in a Tactical Games Model unit (Mitchell, Oslin & Griffin, 2006).
Method Participants were an experienced physical educator and 16 purposefully selected suburban 5th graders from two classes. Students participated in a 20-lesson net/wall sampling unit. Data sources included pre- post- Game Performance Assessment Instrument (GPAI) scores from videotaped play observations of decision-making, skill execution, support, involvement and game performance (rater reliability = >.80). Descriptive field notes and verbal recall protocols were used to examine students' game play thoughts.
Analysis/Results Student GPAI indices were calculated. Field notes and verbal recall statements were open coded, then axially and selectively coded to develop categories. Results showed increased scores across GPAI indices. Students' responses were mediated by positive interactions with the tactical problem, lesson sequence, and teacher. Interactions showed that learning to support aids skill execution and decision-making. A continuum of novice decision-making in net/wall games for object placement was also delineated.
Conclusions Novices' knowledge bases are fragile as the process of assimilation and accommodation occurs. Lengthy time spent in a sampling unit with the same tactical problems can build game understanding and help develop schema for game play solutions and skill.