Skills Testing in Physical Education, Teacher Education (PETE) Programs

Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Exhibit Hall Poster Area 1 (Convention Center)
Timothy M. Baghurst1, Mwarumba Mwavita1 and Nilo C. Ramos2, (1)Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK, (2)Dakota State University, Madison, SD
Background/Purpose: Skills testing of PETE students is a controversial topic, and how programs balance teaching skills, requiring students to demonstrate skill proficiency, and graduate students is not well understood. This study sought to investigate whether, how, and why collegiate PETE programs assess the skill proficiency of their students.

Method: Participants were 287 PETE decision makers representing four-year institutions nationwide that certified physical education teachers. Participants were invited via e-mail and by phone to complete an online survey that requested demographic information about their program, rationale and methodology regarding skills testing, and solicited their opinions about skills testing.

Analysis/Results: Almost half (46%) of PETE programs required their students to pass a skills-based test or demonstrate proficiency in fundamental skills where 54% did not. One-way analyses of variance were performed to examine mean differences in opinion statements between these two groups. Participants from skills-testing programs were significantly more supportive of the statement that proficiency in fundamental motor and sports skills is an important attribute for a physical educator [F (1, 262) = 6.97, p < . 05] and were more confident that their students would pass an independent evaluation of their skill proficiency [F (1, 257) = 9.44, p <. 05]. Participants from non-testing programs were significantly less confident that their students would graduate without clearly demonstrating proficiency in a range of fundamental sports skills and locomotor movements [F (1,262) = 45.38, p< .05]. There were no statistical differences between the two groups on the belief that skill proficiency can be accurately assessed by grade point average in skill-based classes, and when pooled participants were almost evenly split on this issue. In addition, participants were evenly split on whether it was more important for PETE students to be skills proficient or physically fit.

Conclusions: The number of programs that do not skills test was unexpected, but it was not surprising that support for skill-based testing and proficiency received greater support by those programs that formally assess it. However, when forced to choose, there appears to be no consensus on what is more important for a graduating PETE student: that they be fit or skill-proficient. To raise the skill-proficiency of physical education teachers, PETE administrators need to consider whether a skill-based test should be a programmatic requirement for graduation that is separate from a student’s grade point average in skill development classes.