Monday, December 6, 2010

Positive Approaches Through A Youth Physical Activity Program

WHAT: There has been an increase in violence by students occurring after school.  The principal wants to start an after-school physical activity program in order to reduce the violence that is currently occurring.  The main goals established are building character and promoting positive sporting behavior.  The program must be presented to the principal and include strategies, rationale and the big picture of the program before it can begin.  This particular program is targeted for middle school students.

SO WHAT: It is obvious that these middle school students have not developed the proper skills to handle situations and frustrations they may have appropriately.  There is a need for character development and also role modeling to allow students to understand acceptable behavior both inside and outside the classroom.  Bandura’s Social Learning Theory is a great example of how aggressive and violent acts may have increased within the school setting.  Bandura explains that aggressive acts are learned through observational learning, reinforcement, and modeling.  It is suggested that if individuals are able to show aggression in specific situations, they should be able to learn and adhere to nonaggressive/violent behaviors in given situations (Gill & Williams, 2008).  Another issue is changing the sporting behavior of the students; which is likely aggressive or violent at the school right now.  In discussion of antecedents in sport, Gill & Williams (2008) cite research by Stephens and Kavanagh (2003) that “aggression is more likely when people perceive their teammates to be supportive of aggression” (p. 232).  One concern of sport aggression is that it may continue off of the playing field (e.g. in school). 

NOW WHAT: Since both character development and positive sporting behavior need to be addressed in this after-school PA program, an intervention encompassing multiple models and learning experiences is required.  According to Fraser-Thomas, Cote, and Deakin (2005) “youth high in developmental assets demonstrate more resilience in difficult situations” (p.23).  This finding is important because aggression can often occur for youth faced with difficult situations where they do not know how to properly react.  One model proven effective is Hellison’s “personal-social responsibility model” as described by Gill & Williams (2008).  Hellison’s model focuses on sport lessons that apply to other life experiences, is integrated into a PA program, shifts responsibilities from the teacher to students, and respects decisions of the students.  Specifically for this program, physical activities will be solely taught by the instructor and no physical interactions will be required of students.  As the program progresses, students will be asked to assist the instructor and also suggest new activities within small groups, and eventually with the whole group.  When the activities merge into group settings, the instructor will supervise the play initially and suggest changes or unfair actions they see occurring among students.  Once the instructor has felt that students are in control of “fair play” and interact appropriately together, strict supervision will no longer be required.  Similar to an instructor, Fraser-Thomas, Cote, and Deakin (2005) found that coaches who taught reinforcement and technical instruction were more accepted by athletes and participants.  To promote positive sports behavior, t-shirts will be made for program participants to wear during intramural activities before and after school.  The t-shirt will have state “competitive, controlled, and compliant” to suggest that these students know how to play sports with passion, yet limit aggressive behavior while being respectful of rules and of opponents and others on and off the playing field. 

CONCLUSION:  The initial challenge facing this middle school group were violent behavior after school and not practicing positive sporting behaviors.  It was obvious that change was needed, and therefore an after-school physical activity program was created to foster character development and positive sporting behavior among participants.  Components of Hellison’s model were integrated into this after-school program to progressively teach responsibility and character to students’ while increasing their capabilities to make independent decisions.  Finally, the t-shirts worn during intramural play stating “competitive, controlled, and compliant” are in hopes of promoting a more positive sporting atmosphere among all students within the middle school inside and outside the school setting.   

Fraser-Thomas, J. L., Cote, J., & Deakin, J. (2005). Youth sport programs: An Avenue to foster positive youth development. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 10, 19-40.

Gill, D. L., & Williams, L. (2008). Psychological dynamics of sport and exercise (3rd Ed.).                       Champaign, IL:Human Kinetics.