Our proposal focuses on creating a standards-based, high school independent study program. If we were to carry out our project, here's what are research project might read lke:
California charter schools server over 166,000 students through 466 schools, growing 22% in 2002 (Asimov, 2003). Early in the history of charter schools in California, some charter schools reached out to home schooling families, creating independent study programs that combined independent study, an alternative mode of instructional delivery with sometimes counter-culture, other times evangelical Christian home schooling. While a significant number of students in California are enrolled in charter school independent study (“home study”) programs, the effectiveness and strategies used by these programs have, for the most part, only been the subject of anecdotal studies by advocates and detractors. Although the subject of the efficacy of charter school independent study programs is a neglected area worthy of study, it is beyond the scope of this paper, which is designed to meet the requirements of a course in research methods in a master’s degree program in educational technology at California State University, Sacramento. The use of technology to support independent study physical education is a topic within our grasp and worth looking into for a number of reasons.
Need for a Change in Physical Education
Independent study physical education, despite the adoption of California Challenge standards in physical education, is often just a matter of students exercising and reporting their hours. (Challenge standards are not requirements, but suggestions as to how model programs might be structured). However, the standards stress the need for instruction that addresses the affective and cognitive domains, in addition to the physical. In addition, national initiatives in physical fitness stress the need for adolescents to develop knowledge, practice, and attitudes that will lead to lifelong fitness practices. Adolescent fitness, with rising incidence of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, should not be overlooked with the increasing emphasis on academic performance. A physical education course with a health emphasis, that systematically develops attitudes and knowledge that encourage fitness, is required to address these concerns.
What Would a Standards-Based, Technology-Enhanced Physical Education Course Look Like?
What would a standards-based independent study physical education program look like and how can technology enhance it? The traditional team sports centered physical education program is obviously not an option for independent study; even contemporary approaches that put the emphasis on individuals and pairs exercising in large groups are also not very practical. On the other hand, individual study offers advantages:
Students schedules enable them to explore topics on their own without the time restrictions of traditional class schedules
Information about weight and body mass index that might be embarrassing in a large class can be gathered in a more confidential setting
Physical education can be used as an area of cross-curricular integration for technology, writing, mathematics, and other areas
With these thoughts in mind, our project took the physical education students assigned to teachers at two charter schools in suburban Sacramento. Since each teacher had about 25 students,, but not all of them were assigned physical education, 35 9th and 10th grade students, 20 at one school and 15 at the other, were part of the study. For comparison, students with other teachers were randomly selected for comparison. Both groups of students were given initial tests that measured physical performance and fitness. Students were also surveyed by computer as to their participation in regular exercise and their attitudes. Students’ knowledge of concepts central to fitness and nutrition were tested with a pencil and paper test.
Students in both groups took physical education that addressed cognitive, psychomotor, and affective domains. The control group relied on books and weekly meetings for instruction, the traditional mode of physical education for independent study. The other group added the following technology components to enhance the instruction:
- Weekly e-mail reports to their instructorsUsing spreadsheets to track and their progress in the areas of BMI, weight, heart rate, and exercise goals
- Monthly online chats on fitness topics with other students to attempt to create community
- Use of heart rate monitors and electronic scales once a month to quantify progress
- Completing monthly webquest projects on topics in nutrition and fitness to enhance knowledge
- Students used information and data to create electronic fitness profiles
- Students did semester projects that explored lifetime fitness issues (outlining a personal plan for the next five year; researching options in the community for physical activity for different age groups, etc.)
During the study, students’ e-mail and chats were sampled to determine
attitudes toward activities and activities were adjusted based on data. At
the end of the semester, students were administered post-test versions of
the pre-study instruments. In addition, California physical fitness tests
for the two groups were compared.
Last modified on May 4, 2003