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Strengths and Weaknesses of the Teaching Games for Understanding Model

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This essay explores the strengths and weaknesses of the teaching games for understanding model (TGfU), including how the model is student centred, and develops a tactical awareness, but also how there isn’t enough resources and guidance. Bunker and Thorpe (1982), created a model to teach games, where a modified game is played before the skill refinement takes place. Bunker and Thorpe’s (1982) model is made up of six stages (see Table 1.0). However, it was reconceptualised by, Griffin, Mitchell and Oslin (1997), into three stages, as it focused on the key lesson components. The three stages include; the modified game, questioning, and skill development, (Griffin, Mitchell and Oslin, 1997). This allows teachers to focus on the key aspects, to help develop their student’s tactical awareness and decision-making skills. The TGfU approach differ from the behaviourist approach as it makes students more aware of the tactical components of the game and not just how to be technically equipped.

Stages of the model Description Practical example
The game A modified version of a game. It meets the needs and levels of the learners. Within basketball, using 4 hoops on the floor in each corner of a third of a netball court. The teams must bounce the ball in their hoops to get a point, they work on diagonals. To start with students can’t move with the ball, just perform bounce passes. Progress into bouncing the ball.
Game appreciation Learners gain an understanding of the rules of the game. Students learn about a double dribble, and the spacing when marking another player.
Tactical awareness Working through the principles of the game, gaining a tactical awareness, by considering different tactics. Utilising space, to gain possession within the game of basketball. How to lose their opponent to create the space.
Making appropriate decisions Learners are asked what they did during the game, and how they did it, to make appropriate decisions. When you could move with the ball, how did this influence the game?

What types of movement did you use?

When would you apply this in a game?

Skill execution Looking closely at how to execute the skill or movement is performed in the context of the game. Two lines opposite each other, dribble to the right then pass the ball when in the middle. Repeating this to the left. The teacher will pick out the key coaching points of dribbling.
Performance Criteria lead according to the game, lesson or unit of work. The students play a game of basketball, but the focus is still on creating space and dribbling the ball.

Table 1.0 Stages of the teaching games for understanding model

One of the main strengths of the TGfU model is that it is student centred, (Butler, 1998). The students become responsible for making decisions, and develop their problem-solving skills, in order to the desired outcome (Butler, 1998). This is completed through a series of modified games and questioning by the teacher, (Griffin, Mitchell and Oslin, 1997). Consequently, it requires the teacher to have a vast knowledge of different sports to modify these games successfully, (Hooper, 2002). The teacher needs to know more than the discrete skills within the sport, and focus on the tactics of the game, and which skills the players need in order to achieve them, (Hooper, 2002). However, the TGfU model categories games, means there are transferrable skills within the categories, (Webb, Pearson & Forrest, 2006). By working with colleagues with different expertise’s, teachers can develop an understanding of the transferrable skills, making it easier to modify the games, (Hargreaves, 1994).

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The TGfU model allows students to improve decision making skills, (Grehaigne, Godbout and Boutheir, 2001). This is undertaken by the students having to think tactically about how they will be successful within the game and produce the correct action in order to achieve, (Weiner & Mayer 1986). The students will begin to make links between the tactics and which skills they need to use, creating an effective transfer of knowledge to the game, (Launder, 2001). Although, the TGfU model improves decision making skills, there needs to be a successfully modified game to facilitate this. Due to a lack of support, resources and guidance, this can become difficult for teachers to achieve, (Doutis and Ward, 1999).

Therefore, teachers will gravitate towards using the behaviourist model as it is deemed easier and within their comfort zone. However, attending workshops will provide guidance and support to the teachers, helping them to develop resources and gain confidence, (Butler, 1996). Also, allowing teachers to swap ideas and resources, so that it increases an understanding of the model, (Griffin & Butler, 2005)

Furthermore, another strength of the TGfU model is it gives students a tactical awareness of different games, (Rink, 2001). This is completed by teachers modifying a game to focus on one key tactical component, (Bunker & Thorpe, 1982). This allows students of all abilities to understand how the skills can be used to achieve these tactics, allowing improvement and development of performance, (Prawat, 1999). However, as teachers are successful using the behaviourist approach, to create successful games players, they are resistant to change, (Evans & Clark, 1988). Many teachers feel their teaching style is successful as it has worked in the past, so they aren’t willing to try another model to be more effective, (Evans & Clark, 1988). Consequently, the TGfU model isn’t being utilised within schools as much as it should be. However, if the model is integrated into lessons gradually, then there isn’t a dramatic change within the lessons, (Berkowitz, 1996). The gradual approach allows the teachers to use the two models side by side, allowing a direct comparison, highlighting the benefits of using the TGfU model, (Butler, 1998).

The TGfU model incorporates a games-based approach, which increases the motivation of students, (Light 2002). The games-based approach is reflected through the modified game at the beginning of the lesson, this encourages the students to be competitive, as they would be in the game, (Mauldon & Redfern, 1969). The competitive nature increases the motivation of the students, which will have a positive impact on their learning as they are engaged with the activity and are challenged, (Siedentop, 1994). Having said that, many teachers won’t use the TGfU model as there is no external pressures on them to do so, (O’SulIivan, Siedentop, and Tannehill, 1994). Due to no pressure on teachers to change the way they teach, many will stick to the style they feel comfortable teaching even if it’s may not be the most effective method, (Griffin & Butler, 2005). Even though, there is no external pressures on the teachers, many will want to deliver the best lesson they can for their students. Engaging with the TGfU model will facilitate this but reflecting on the lessons will help the teachers to progress, (Bullough & Baughman 1996). Reflecting on their lessons will allow them to fully understand how to successfully teach using the TGfU model, this will help to increase their confidence and knowledge, (Bullough & Baughman, 1996).

In conclusion, the TGfU model has many strengths and weaknesses. All the strengths have positive impacts on how the students are appropriately equipped to be successful games players, this includes; an increased tactical awareness and improved decision-making skills. However, the perceived weaknesses have an impact on the teachers, for example; a lack of resources, guidance and support, (Doutis and Ward 1999). Where there is a weakness, there is always a method to help overcome the problem, or make it easier for the teacher, including; attending workshops, working with colleagues and lesson reflection. Overall, the TGfU model is an effective way of teaching games and producing effective games players.

References

  • Berkowitz, R. (1996). A practitioner’s journey. From skill to tactics. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 67(4). 44-45
  • Bullough, B., & Baughman, K. (1996). Narrative reasoning and teacher development: A longitudinal study. Curriculum Inquiry, 26(4), 385-415.
  • Bunker, D., & Thorpe, R. (1982). A model for the teaching of games in secondary school. Bulletin of physical education, 18(1), 5-8.
  • Butler
  • Doutis, P., & Ward, P. (1999). Finish this!
  • Evans and Clark
  • Grehaigne, J. Godbout, P., & Bouthier, D. (2001). The teaching and learning of decision making within team sports. Quest, 53, 59-76.
  • Griffin, L., & Butler, J. (2005). Teaching games for understanding. Champaign, Ill.: Human Kinetics.
  • Griffin, L. Mitchell, S., & Oslin, J. (1997). Teaching sport concepts and skills: A tactical games approach. Champaign, Illinois: Human Kinetics.
  • Hargreaves, A. (1994). Changing teachers, changing times: Teacher’s work and culture in the postmodern age. New York: Teacher College Press.
  • Hopper, T. (2002). Teaching Games for Understanding: The Importance of Student Emphasis over Content Emphasis. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 73(7), 44-48.
  • Light, R. (2002). The social nature of games: Australian pre-service primary teachers’ experiences TGfU. European Physical Education Review, 8 (2), 291-310.
  • Launder, A. (2001). Play practice: The games approach to teaching and coaching sports. Champaign, Illinois: Human Kinetics.
  • Mauldon, E., & Redfern, H. (1969). Games teachings: A new approach for the primary school. London: MacDonald & Evans.
  • O’Sullivan, M. Siedentop, D., & Tannehill, D. (1994). Breaking out: Co-dependency of high school in physical education. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 13, 421-428.
  • Prawatt, R. (1999). Dewey, Pierce and the learning paradox. American Educational Research Journal, 36, 47-76.
  • Rink, J. (2001). Investigating the Assumptions of Pedagogy. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education20(2), 112-128.
  • Siedentop, D. (1994). Sport education: Quality PE through positive sport experiences. Champaign, Illinois: Human Kinetics.
  • Webb, Pearson & Forrest
  • Weinstein, C., & Mayer, R. (1986). The teaching of learning strategies. Handbook of research on teaching. 315-327.


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