Conceptual Teaching and Learning in Physical Education
Concept-based curricula are more effective than topically based curricula, for the world of today and
tomorrow, because they take learning to a higher level as students analyze, synthesize, and generalize
from facts to higher level knowledge.
Stirring The Head, Heart, and Soul: Redefining Curriculum and
In most subject areas in the school curriculum we have moved from the practice of teaching isolated
facts and skills to approaches that attempt to have the learner understand and integrate experiences, see
patterns and relationships and make connections. This approach, referred to as "Conceptual Teaching
and Learning," applies equally as well in physical education as it does in other subjects.
The goal of the physical education curriculum, in the context of a concept-based approach, implies a
shift from teaching in which a sport or activity (game, dance, etc.) is the organizing element for units
and lessons to an approach in which lessons and units are organized around a concept. A concept is a
generalization or main idea which is transferable to other situations.
is used in this document to refer to ideas that have transfer value. Ideas about physical
activity, movement skills and personal, social and cultural skills have transfer value when, after being
learned in one way, context or environment, they can be used in a variety of other ways, contexts and
Teachers who use a concept-based approach expect that after having taught the concept, Sending—more
specifically, the overarm throwing pattern—students will transfer what they have learned to other skills
and contexts where this movement pattern is used. For example, the badminton and tennis overhead
smash, the volleyball serve, the javelin throw.
Students who understand how to absorb force when landing on the feet are able to use that knowledge in
other situations requiring the absorption of force. For example, when performing other types of landings
(landings on the hands, landings while rotating) or when receiving an object (catching a ball, collecting a
soccer ball, collecting a puck using a hockey stick).
Students who have learned the concept of "zone defense" (defending an area as opposed to a player) can
then apply it in various sports (e.g., floor hockey, volleyball, basketball, football, soccer). If students
understand concepts such as overload and recovery, they will be able to design their own fitness
While all teaching methods have a place in concept-based education, the use of exploration, discovery