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Integrating Cooperative Games in Elementary Physical Education. Research Proposal Presentation by Susan Neumann. Introduction. Purpose of this study: To investigate the effects of integrating cooperative activities in elementary physical education programs. Support from other research:

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integrating cooperative games in elementary physical education

Integrating Cooperative Games in Elementary Physical Education

Research Proposal Presentation


Susan Neumann


Purpose of this study:

To investigate the effects of integrating cooperative activities in elementary physical education programs

  • Support from other research:
  • Through games and play, children have the opportunity to develop their personalities and socialize with others
  • However, children do not always exemplify positive behaviors when playing with their peers
common scenario lack of fun disinterest in cooperation tarnished physical activity skills
Common scenario:Lack of Fun Disinterest in cooperation tarnished physical activity skills


Teach cooperative activities in physical education classes

What’s special about physical education classes?

They present opportunities to help children acquire positive behaviors through movement

What is cooperative learning?
  • Students work together in small groups to solve a common problem
  • Students are responsible for the success of their group & individual learning
  • Focus is on the process used, not the outcome (McBride, 2004)
cooperative vs traditional
Direct instruction

Cooperative skills not taught

Simple regurgitation of skills

Focus on competition

Cooperativevs. Traditional
  • Student-centered
  • Cooperative skills taught
  • Open-ended ?s, reflection
  • Focus on problem solving
why cooperative learning
Why Cooperative Learning?

Studies have shown various benefits that can be achieved from the use of problem solving activities:

  • Communication skills
  • Positive social interaction
  • Critical thinking development
  • Reduced aggressive behavior
  • Increased self-esteem
communication skills
Communication Skills
  • Mutual understandings of others’ previous knowledge (Gillies & Ashman, 1998)
  • Construct new information based on previous knowledge
  • Without skills, some students would be lost during an activity and miss an opportunity to develop new life skills
  • Should be taught in a progressive manner, by starting with activities that require little or no talking, to activities that need a large amount of verbal stimulation for success (Halliday, 1999)
positive social interaction
Positive Social Interaction
  • One of the main emphases of physical education:
    • To promote socialization through movement interaction (Graham, Holt/Hale & Parker, 2004)
  • Behavior includes:
    • Seeing and helping others in time of need
    • Understanding the effect of personal behavior on others (Polvi & Telama, 2000)
  • By solving problems through coop. activities:
    • Students are engaged in social interactions with their peers through the activity, sharing equipment, and competition (Smith & Karp, 1997)
    • Students must learn to accept ideas from each member of their group and to compromise with others
social interaction studies
Social Interaction Studies
  • In Finland by Polvi and Telama:
    • 5th grade phys. ed. classes
    • Results:
      • Students cooperated more with their peers throughout the school year & also accumulated more friends
  • In Montreal by Dyson (2001):
    • 5th & 6th grade phys. ed. classes
    • Results:
      • Low-skilled students felt more accepted as a part of the group
      • Students worked together and encouraged each other more frequently
social interaction contd
Social Interaction (contd.)

3. In the Pacific Northwest by Smith and Karp:

  • One 3rd grade class
  • Results:
    • Cooperative activities helped to enhance social skills of students, but did not always assure social success
    • Researchers propose students should be introduced to social skills before they reach third grade (social status already established)
critical thinking
Critical Thinking
  • To implement:
  • Challenges must have multiple solutions
  • Students are required to actively become part of the process in trying to find the solution
  • Groups experiment by trial and error
  • Proper facilitation:
  • Teachers need to progressively integrate tasks (Buchanan, A., Martin, E., Childress, R., Howard, C., Williams, L., Bedsole, B., & Ferry, M., 2002)
  • Linking learning:
  • Students can apply newly found knowledge to life issues such as diversity, the environment, and socialization
critical thinking studies
Critical Thinking Studies
  • In Nebraska by Fullerton and Madjeski (1996):
    • Teaching program: Group Challenge Experience (GCE)
    • Results:
      • Discussing the complex social issues behind the events is the most important component of the cooperative lesson
      • Without helping students to bridge these connections, activities simply remain entertainment
  • In Texas by McBride and Bonnette (1995):
    • 71 at-risk boys (minorities, single-parent families, financially unstable)
    • Results:
      • There were significant increases in at-risk students’ critical thinking scores
      • Students were also able to generalize strategies to other contexts by the use of high-level transfer
reducing aggressive behavior
Reducing Aggressive Behavior
  • Through participation in physical activity, students have a chance to release negative energy and channel aggressive behavior into a more positive direction (Ramsey & Rank, 1997)
  • But frequently:

Lack of Hostile Participation

Sportsmanship Environment Unattractive, Anxiety Develops

  • Focus:
    • On cooperative, not competitive games
    • Students to work together instead of against each other toward a common goal
    • No defined winners and losers, only success
  • If cooperative activities are introduced early on to children, they can provide an alternative means to violence and aggressiveness (Ramsey & Rank)
behavior studies
Behavior Studies
  • In Nevada by Bay-Hintz, Peterson & Quilitich (1994):
    • Participants: 70 preschool children
    • Results:

Cooperative games: Coop. behaviors aggression

Competitive games: Coop. behaviors aggression

2. In Canada by Gibbons, Ebbeck and Weiss (1995):

    • Fair Play for Kids curriculum (problem-solving activities) applied in physical education classes and classroom
    • 452 elementary children
    • Results:
      • Fair play strategies positively affected behaviors of students
behavior studies contd
Behavior Studies (contd.)

3. In Arizona by Quinn (2002):

  • Coop. learning to reduce antisocial behaviors in 2nd grade boys
  • Results:
    • More engaged in learning, less likely to act out during cooperative units
    • Quinn admits that the boys were denied access to the playground to display aggressive behavior, leading to the fact that results could have differed had this setting been taken into effect.
self esteem

Success in confidence participation

an activity/skill increases as adult

  • Thus, confidence in physical abilities may lead to positive feelings of self-esteem (Graham, Holt/Hale & Parker).
  • In coop. activities, children can have the chance to develop self-confidence through the process of working with others and expanding problem solving skills
  • Finding solutions leads to competence and results in both physical and emotional self assurance (Beckmann & Wichmann).
self esteem studies
Self-Esteem Studies
  • In New Zealand by Donaldson and Ronan (2006):
    • Participants: 203 young adolescents
    • Results:
      • Greater participation in sports was related to enhanced emotional and behavioral well-being
      • In order to help students achieve this level of emotional well-being, physical educators need to focus less on competitive activities, more on cooperative games
  • In Canada by Ebbeck and Gibbons (1998):
    • Participants: 120 children
    • Team Building Through Physical Challenges (TBPC) curriculum.
    • Results:
      • TBPC had a positive influence on the self-concepts of physical education students
need for study
Need for Study?
  • Many of studies completed outside of U.S. or different parts of U.S.

Finland Arizona

Montreal Nevada

Canada Pacific Northwest

New Zealand Nebraska


  • Studies only focus on one benefit, do not show combined effects of cooperative activities
  • Some studies not done in physical education setting

To investigate the effects of integrating cooperative activities in elementary physical education programs

methods participants
Methods (Participants)

1 Elementary School in Southern California:

2 Randomly selectedfifth grade classes

2 physical education specialists

  • 1 fifth grade class:
  • One physical education specialist
  • Traditional physicaleducation lessons
  • 1 fifth grade class:
  • One physical education specialist
  • Cooperative physicaleducation lessons
methods procedures
Methods (Procedures)
  • Obtain informed consent and health clearances from all participants, follow appropriate human subjects procedures
  • Lesson plans for traditional physical education classes given to one teacher
  • Lesson plans for cooperative physical education classes given to another teacher
  • Both fifth grade classes meet with a physical education teacher for 30 minutes, 3 times a week for 12 weeks
methods data collection
Methods (Data Collection)
  • Physical education teachers and classroom teachers will be interviewed to rate students’ levels of communication, social interaction, critical thinking skills and behaviors before and after intervention
  • Students will be interviewed to determine their social interaction levels before and after intervention
  • Students complete self-report batteries before and after intervention (to determine levels of self-esteem)
  • Field observations take place during each physical education class

Students participating in cooperative activities as part of a physical education program will exhibit signs of increased communication, positive social interaction, critical thinking skills, reduced aggressive behavior, and higher self-esteem

projected outcomes
Projected Outcomes
  • The findings support the researcher’s hypothesis
  • Students involved in cooperative physical education:
  • Both physical education and classroom teachers reported increased signs of:
    • Communication
    • Positive social interaction
    • Critical thinking skills
    • Reduced aggressive behavior
    • Higher self-esteem
  • Students reported higher scores on self-report batteries
  • When interviewed at the conclusion of the intervention, students who normally felt left out in games reported more inclusion and participation with other students
potential risks
Potential Risks

Include/are not limited to:

  • Injury
  • Fatigue
  • Dehydration
  • Muscle soreness
  • Heart attack
  • Emotional distress
  • Social discomfort
  • Downstream negative effects (lawsuits, loss of teaching license, death)
steps to minimize risks
Steps to Minimize Risks

Include/are not limited to:

  • Highlighting safety procedures for each lesson
  • Quality physical education teachers trained in CPR/First Aid
  • Stretching/warm-up/cool down
  • Water breaks
  • Progression of skills (developmentally appropriate)
  • Health clearances for all participants
  • Maintaining positive learning environment
  • Along with:
    • Increased communication skills
    • Positive social interaction
    • Critical thinking development
    • Reduced aggressive behavior
    • Increased self-esteem
  • Other benefits associated with physical activity (weight loss, confidence, healthy heart, endurance)
  • Students could start to apply the concepts in other settings (at home, playing with friends, working in a classroom)
  • Potential to inspire children to be physically active for a lifetime
  • Promote a positive learning atmosphere by increasing cooperative behavior and reducing aggressive behavior
  • Spread knowledge about the effects of cooperative physical education to teachers, parents and the community
  • Fill a void in the research field
  • B.S. in Kinesiology (Pedagogy) from Pennsylvania State University
  • Instructional I K-12 Health & Physical Education Teaching Certificate
  • Volunteer teacher for Project Health Zone, a CSUN research project
  • Experience teaching a large variety of cooperative activities during student teaching at Garnet Valley Elementary School (Glen Mills, PA)
  • Lifeguard, CPR, AED & First Aid Certified

Bay-Hintz, A., Peterson, R., & Quilitch, H. (1994). Cooperative games: a way to modify aggressive and cooperative behaviors in young children. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 27(3), 435-446.

Beckmann, H., & Wichmann, K. (2005). The acquisition of motor skills – A problem-solving approach. The International Journal of Physical Education, 42(3),120-128.

Buchanan, A., Martin, E., Childress, R., Howard, C., Williams, L., Bedsole, B., & Ferry, M. (2002). Integrating elementary physical education and science: A cooperative problem-solving approach. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 73(2), 31-36.

Dyson, B. (2001). Cooperative learning in an elementary physical education program. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 20, 264-281.

Ebbeck, V. & Gibbons, S. (1998). The effect of a team building program on the self-conceptions of grade 6 and 7 physical education students. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 20, 300-310.

Fullerton, J., & Madjeski, H. (1996). Group initiative strategies for addressing social issues. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 67(5), 52-53.

Gibbons, S., Ebbeck, V., & Weiss, M. (1995). Fair play for kids: Effects on the moral development of children in physical education. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 66(3), 247-256.

Gillies, R. & Ashman, A. (1998). Behavior and interactions of children in cooperative groups in lower and middle elementary grades. Journal of Educational Psychology, 90(4), 746-757.

Graham, G., Holt/Hale, S., & Parker, M. (2004). Children Moving. (6th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Halliday, N. (1999). Developing self-esteem through challenge education experiences. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 70(6), 51-57.

McBride, R. (2004). If you structure it, they will learn…critical thinking in physical education classes. The Clearing House, 77(3), 114-117.

McBride, R. & Bonnette, R. (1995). Teacher and at-risk students’ cognitions during open-ended activities: Structuring the learning environment for critical thinking. Teaching & Teacher Education, 11(4), 373-388.

Polvi, S., & Telama, R. (2000). The use of cooperative learning as a social enhancer in physical education. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 44(1), 105-115.

Quinn, M. (2002). Changing antisocial behavior patterns in young boys: A structured cooperative learning approach. Education & Treatment of Children, 24(5), 380-396.

Ramsey, B., & Rank, B. (1997). Rethinking youth sports. Parks & Recreation, 32(12), 30-36.

Smith, B., & Karp, G. (1997, March). The effect of a cooperative learning unit on the social skill enhancement of third grade physical education students. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, IL.