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Physical Education Preservice Teachers’ Understanding of Critical Thinking Jiling Liu, Susan Wagner, Ping Xiang, & Ron E. McBride, Health & Kinesiology Department Texas A&M University.

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  1. Physical Education Preservice Teachers’ Understanding of Critical ThinkingJiling Liu, Susan Wagner, Ping Xiang, & Ron E. McBride, Health & Kinesiology DepartmentTexas A&M University “I believe it [CT] is reflective thinking focused on deciding what to believe and not to believe, and what to do and not to do.” “[CT is] the higher-order of questioning and thinking to be able to understand and evaluate yourself and your teaching. Background • FindingsFour themes emerged • Definition of CT • Factors contributing to CT development • Preservice teachers acquired CT knowledge from methods courses. • Contributing factors were identified in three categories, learning activity, planning activity, and teaching activity. • Application of CT in PE • Asking students higher-order questions was the most often used technique. Using different teaching styles and providing feedback were also utilized. • Challenges of Promoting CT in PE • Insufficient time and lack of CT disposition were two perceived barriers for preservice teachers to promote CT in PE. • Critical thinking (CT) is “reflective thinking that is used to make reasonable and defensive decisions” (McBride, 1992, p. 115). • Physical education preservice teachers need to “demonstrate the ability to think critically about physical activity issues” and facilitate student learning outcomes such as CT (NASPE, 2008). • CT is fundamental to effective teaching and should be integrated into physical education teacher education (PETE) programs (Elder, 2005; Saxton, Belanger, & Becker, 2012). • Teachers’ understanding of CT helps develop their pedagogical teaching skills and influences their future teaching practices (e.g., Minor, 2002; Phan, 2010). “I think our project for building the curriculum for the year really made us think critically, because we have to think about the different steps involved in planning the whole program. It took a lot of time and a lot of critical thinking to really get that done.” “we learned this in preparing our lesson plans, because we’re thinking of critical questions to ask our students, and just if the activities we’re choosing work or not,.” “So I think that [mentor teacher’s feedback] got me thinking critically about what part of the lesson went well and what didn’t and why they did or didn’t go well.” “One way that I apply critical thinking is during the closure and I go back over the skills learned with the students and ask them higher-level questions.” “Another way is through the teaching style, divergent teaching style where I pretty much set up the lesson and the students come to their own conclusions.” “We do this [applying CT] through we providing feedback to our students during the lessons that we teach in schools.” • Voluntary participants were 12 (4 females, 8 males, aged 21-40) preservice PE teachers recruited from a Physical Education Teacher Certificate Program at a major Texas university. • Data were collected through four 40-minutes focus group interviews. • Data were analyzed using constant comparison (Lincoln & Guba, 1985). • Trustworthiness was attained through prolonged exposure (Lincoln & Guba, 1985) and peer debriefing (Merriam, 2009). • The current study examined, (1) how preservice teachers understood and applied CT during their capstone methods course and field-based practices, and (2) what factors they perceived as contributing to their CT development. Method Purpose “Because in PE you’re trying to keep them active, it’s hard to balance the activity and the time for critical thinking.” “You think it’s a good question but the kids don’t really care about answering questions at the end of the class.” • Discussion/Conclusion • Results showed that the PE preservice teachers in this study had a clear understanding of CT in PE. • Their identification of the contributing factors to CT developmentconfirmed previous studies that CT skills can be taught and learned (e.g., Sternberg, 1990; Ennis, 1989). • They applied CT in PE using effective approaches, such has higher-order questioning (e.g., Barnett & Francis, 2011; Saxton, Belanger, & Becker, 2012). • Consistent with prior research (e.g., McBride, 1998), these preservice teachers recognized the challenges of promoting CT in PE. • The data reported in this study provided insights about how to effectively infuse CT into PETE programs to prepare students to become effective teachers.

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