North Spring Primary School

A HOLISTIC DESCRIPTION OF COMPETENCY IN PHYSICAL EDUCATION: THE DEVELOPMENTAL JOURNEY OF A STRUCTURAL CHANGE @ NSPS

A Holistic Description of Movement Competency 

There has been an increase in the interest in holistic description of physical competency. With reference to studies and the Physical Education Assessment Resource Guide (PE ARG), we found new meaning to movement competency. As mentioned by Ng & Button (2018), movement competency is the capacity of an individual to adapt movements based upon affordances and provide successful movement solutions that are effective and efficient based upon their action-capabilities. This implies that, ideally an assessment should not penalise an individual solely upon an ideal movement response. Instead, the design of a movement task must present affordances that are similar to real game or sporting situations. Discrete assessments that assess individual ability to reproduce movement without paying attention to context provides a limited view of movement competence. The PE syllabus highlights the need for effective, efficient and versatile individuals. Hence, a static skills-based assessment is inadequate to gauge one’s movement competency as students are often simply reproducing what was “taught to them”. In short, being able to perfectly reproduce a static movement pattern from repetitive practise, formed by a narrow range of constraints does not make one generally competent in movement (Ng & Button, 2018, p.4). 

Assessment in North Spring Primary School 

With the new understanding and knowledge, the PE department at North Spring Primary has decided to embark on a change to improve the assessment approach. 

The journey began with visioning what assessment should be like. 


Vision of Assessment in PE at North Spring Primary School 

 

The next few segments aim to highlight the few changes which were made to improve the assessment approach at North Spring Primary School. 

The process started at the end of 2019 and the department is still in the midst of refining the implementation. 

Providing feedback about effectiveness and adaptability 

While observing the efficiency (form of the movement pattern) remains important for us, we also want to observe students’ effectiveness and adaptability of the movement executed. 

Example: 


Components of movement pattern for an underhand roll (extracted from Physical Education Assessment Resource Guide, 2019, p.14) 

What it used to look like… 

In a typical assessment of underhand roll, students were assessed based on an ideal standard, largely to reproduce the movement pattern as shown in Image 1. The specific performance criteria (success criteria) was broken down to examine closely the form of the movement. It was also common to see students being assessed while performing a discrete task i.e., rolling the ball to a stationary partner. 

What it is like now… 

With reference to the ARG and literature reviews, the department came to an understanding that discrete assessments that assess individual ability to reproduce movement without paying attention to context provides a limited interpretation of movement competence. Besides, each individual is unique and may have slight variation when executing the same skill.

Therefore, we redefined the performance criteria such that our assessment provides a holistic description of their competency and not merely bench-marked against being able to reproduce a static movement. 

The image below is an example of how a teacher’s mark sheet would look like while computing the final competency for each child. 

Design of assessment task 

Assessment tasks are designed to be part of the daily teaching practices. In addition, to determine if the student is competent in a movement pattern/ skill, they should be given opportunities to demonstrate their ability to perform the movement over varied contexts. Essentially, students should demonstrate adaptability. Context could be varied by using different equipment, the size of targets and equipment, distance and position of targets as well as different ground surfaces. Tasks are also designed to be authentic and close to the ‘real game’ situation.  

What it used to look like… 

Learning Outcomes  Assessment task 
Level: Primary 1
Learning area: Games and Sports
Learning outcome: Roll using the underhand movement pattern, small-sized objects to a large target
Students roll the ball to a large target using underhand movement using a small-sized ball. 

Task set up:

  • Place a mark on a line to mark the starting position. Place a target (i.e. cone or box) 3 metres away.
  • Place at least 6 small-sized objects next to the starting position
  • Students are required to roll using underhand movement pattern to hit the target. 

 

What it looks like now… 

Learning Outcomes  Assessment tasks 
Level: Primary 1
Learning area: Games and Sports 
Learning outcome: Roll using the underhand movement pattern, using small-sized objects.
Task 1 (Efficiency): 

  • In pairs, starting from the first partner, roll the ball using underhand movement. The second student will have to run after the ball and stop it as early as possible.
Task 2 (Adaptability): 

  • 3 vs 1 game situation 
  • The attacking team passes the ball by rolling using underhand movement and keep possession of the ball for as long as possible. 
  • Defender to take on a passive role (‘warm’ defending) 
Task 3 (Effectiveness): 

  • 2 vs 1 game situation 
  • Students score a point by rolling the ball to hit a large target i.e. a cone.
  • Defender to take on a passive role (‘warm’ defending) 

On-going assessments 

Assessments are to be conducted throughout the unit and integrated into daily teaching practices. This is to allow teachers to gather information about the students’ performance and provide feedback to them, allowing them to refine their movement competency. Teachers also use this information to plan forward and address students’ learning gaps. 

What it used to look like… 

Students were graded towards the end of the unit based on only one assessment task for each learning outcome. This form of assessment cannot adequately represent the students’ movement competency in the skill we were testing for. 

What it looks like now… 


The framework for formative assessment (extracted from Physical Education Assessment Resource Guide, 2019, p.9)

Taking reference from the framework for formative assessment, teachers assess the students throughout the unit; keeping track of students’ learning progress and provide intervention whenever and wherever necessary.  For students who have reached proficiency (with adequate sampling), their results are used summatively to indicate their level of competence.  For the group of students who have not, teachers will identify the areas in need of improvement and aim to close the learning gaps. Thereafter, teachers verify the students’ level of competence again.  

As a department, we also discussed teaching strategies to help close learning gaps. Using the underhand roll movement as an example again, below are some examples of some activities that teachers use to close the learning gaps. 

Learning gaps Suggested activities
If students are not confident with handling a ball…  Exploration and getting comfortable with using a ball: 

  • Get the child to sit down and roll underarm.
  • Get the child to sit with legs straddled, then roll the ball towards the target with both hands.
If students are not able to demonstrate the underhand roll movement… 
  • Place a marker or footprint on the floor to indicate the child’s foot should be positioned.
  • Provide simplified teaching cues: “Step, swing, bend, and roll”.
  • Cues can be verbal or written on card. If it is the latter, pin up on the wall at your child’s eye level.
  • Place a hurdle in between players to encourage students to roll the ball.
If students are not rolling far enough or with enough force… 
  • Provide space and distance for the child to exert strength.
  • Challenge students to roll as far as he/she can.

Challenges

For the implementation of change to be successful, a common understanding of the definition of movement competency must first be established. The team must concur that assessment in PE goes beyond observing students based on ideal standards using discrete tasks. The PLC platform has provided the team opportunities to examine and discuss plans for changes as well as moving forward. Literature reviews and conversations with knowledgeable others helped strengthen our knowledge. In addition, teachers were also receptive and positive about the change and implementation. 

Most assessment tasks previously used had to be redesigned to ensure that it allows us to obtain a holistic description of students’ movement competency. With all members on board, we each took turns to propose our redesigned assessment tasks for the various learning outcomes. The department would also critically examine and refine the proposed assessment tasks before they are being used. This remains an on-going process for us, seeking to make improvement as we move along. 

Conclusion 

The department felt that to assess students’ movement competence, a critical component to consider is the students’ ability to demonstrate adaptability when performing the skill; not replicating the movement pattern as being taught. Assessments should then provide opportunities to validate and provide a holistic description of their movement competence. After all, the aim of the PE syllabus is to develop our students to be active and have sustained involvement in physical activities throughout their lifetime. Does one really have to perform a perfect form of an underhand roll before enjoying a game of bowling with a group of friends?  

Feedback and questions 

If you have any feedback or questions, please email huang_qian_qin@schools.gov.sg and we will try our best to get back to you.  

References

Longmuir, P. E., Boyer, C., Lloyd, M., Borghese, M. M., Knight, E., Saunders, T. J., Boiarskaia, E., Zhu, W., & Tremblay, M. S. (2017). Canadian agility and movement skill assessment (CAMSA): Validity, objectivity, and reliability evidence for children 8–12 years of age. Journal of Sport and Health Science, 6(2), 231-240.

Ng, J. L., & Button, C. (2018). Reconsidering the fundamental movement skills construct: Implications for assessment. Movement & Sport Sciences – Science & Motricité, 102, 19-29.

Pot, N., Hilvoorde, I. V., Afonso, J., Koekoek, J., & Almond, L. (2017). Meaningful movement behaviour involves more than the learning of fundamental movement skills. International Sports Studies, 39(2), 5-20.