This past week in #epe300 I had the opportunity to engage in a terrific conversation with physical education pre-service teachers around assessment and in particular the notion of encouraging engagement via a participation mark. It was evident from the experiences shared as students, putting a number towards how one participates in physical education was the dominant story. Perhaps as much as 50% of ones mark would be calculated on criteria that more often than not came down to having proper attire and footwear. The intent of initiating the conversation around participation was not to debate if in fact participation should be assessed or what percentage should be allocated. But since I brought it up, let me provide some insight. The truth is, unless there is connection to a curricular outcome, participation should not be allotted a percentage (commonly from 10 to 50%). If we are to look at many of the outcomes in middle years and high school physical education and wellness, it becomes evident that engagement in embedded. Indicators include the notion of willingly engaging in a variety of movement activities at a variety of levels of exertion. As physical educators, we need to assess the engagement of students formatively. Engagement rubrics can be used to communicate with students when it comes to their performance with a multitude of challenges and tasks. Never should one use an assessment tool such as this rubric to validate a percentage of a students overall grade.
Let’s move back to the intention of initiating the conversation pertaining to participation. Throughout my career many educators have indicated that marks are what will get students to engage in physical education. As the story goes, youth will not engage if marks are not assigned. This is the same argument echoed among those using fitness testing as part of their program. These stand-alone summative assessments (aka fitness tests) similar to participation marks, tell the youth something they already know. You are unfit and here is a mark based on standards. You do not change for class and here is a mark for participation. Do these marks encourage students? If we assess only to find marks for our students, are we doing what we can to support those students? Does telling a student something they already know inspire engagement? Do we as physical educators take the time to ask why some may choose not to participate in class or seem to misplace shoes on fitness testing day? Together as we move through the semester, we will continue to engage in these conversations and challenge our thinking.
I would love to hear your thoughts and any insight you could provide for our class.
Posted by: Brian Lewis