Observation Study On Physical Education On Children Physical Education Essay

This field observation study was conducted during a school PE lesson during the 30 minute period between 12:00-12:30pm. The lesson was an indoor dance lesson taken at a secondary school by a PE teacher. The participants of the dance lesson were year 7 (11-12 year old) girls.

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The CBAS (Coaching Behaviour Assessment System) developed by Smith, Smoll and Hunt (1977) was used to measure the coaches obvious behaviours during a session of training but it can also be used at competitive events. The CBAS measures 7 behaviours of two types; spontaneous (2) and reactive (5). Spontaneous behaviours (e.g. general encouragement) are initiated by the coach, whereas reactive behaviours (e.g. punishment) respond to specific behaviours from an athlete or team (Gould & Weinberg, 2007).


Percentage agreement

The percentage of agreement measures the agreement between two observers and their results for the same period of observation of the coach. As expected, varied results were found for the 7 different measures. An agreement of over 80% is perceived a high agreement between the two observers. For reinforcement, the agreement was 66.66%. For both mistake-contingent encouragement and mistake-contingent technical encouragement the agreement was 20%. The agreement for punishment was 0% but only one example of punishment was observed.

Table 1; Frequency of Behaviour Occurrences, Agreement Factors and Total Percentage of Observed Behaviours

Total Occurrences
Agreement Factor
% of Observed Behaviours



2/2 = 66.66%


Mistake-contingent encouragement


1/5 = 20%


Mistake-contingent technical instruction


1/5 = 20%




0/1 = 0%


Keeping control


19/23 = 82.61%


General technical instruction


52/55 = 94.55%


General encouragement


4/4 = 100%



100.00Keeping control had an agreement percentage of 82.61%, general technical instruction had 94.55% agreement and general encouragement had a 100% agreement.

Percentage of behaviours

The most observed behaviour was general technical instruction which was 63.22% of all the behaviours observed. The least observed was coach behaviour was punishment which was not observed (0%). Mistake-contingent encouragement and mistake-contingent technical instruction were both 1.15% of all behaviours. The other observed behaviours were 3.45% for reinforcement, 4.60% for general encouragement and 26.44% for keeping control.

Figure 1; Graph indicating the percentage of each behaviour in relation to the total number of behaviours observed during the 30 minute studyThe results show that the lesson was to instruct pupils on the techniques required as the most observed behaviour was general technical instruction (55 occurrences). The teacher also had to keep a lot of control over the group. The least frequent behaviour was punishment which was not seen during the 30 minute observation.


Inter-observer agreement

The two observers observed 87 and 88 behaviours respectively. The biggest difference for a group was the mistake- contingent encouragement and mistake-contingent technical instruction where the difference between observers was 4, resulting in a low agreement percentage of 20%.

Agreement above 80% is considered a high inter-observer agreement and this was evident for 3 categories; keeping control (82.61% agreement), general technical instruction (94.55%) and general encouragement (100%). Punishment showed a 0% agreement but only 1 incidence of punishment was observed collectively between two observers. Reinforcement however, had a medium agreement of 66.66%.

The low inter-observer agreements may be due to lack of understanding of the meaning of the behaviour, or taking too long to decide on one behaviour may have caused an observer to miss another behaviour soon after.

Instructor effectiveness

Reinforcement is any event following a behaviour which increases the probability of occurrence of the behaviour in the future (Donahue, Gillis & King, 1980). Allison and Ayllon (1980) discovered that a behavioural coaching method involving reinforcement was immediately effective in both generating and improving a correct performance in gymnastics. The coach may have been more effective in teaching if reinforcement was used more regularly as in the CBAS study of the dance lesson, only 3 examples of reinforcement were observed.

Punishment should be appropriate when a coach has the belief that no other method will deter athletes from a wrong behaviour or action. This method could also be used as it has the ability to sustain or generate order and stability within a group. Paolucci and Violato (2004) expressed concern that punishment as a discipline method could overpower a childaa‚¬a„?s ability to learn, and many theories suggest that punishment should not be used as an educational tool. Opponents of punishment suggest that the receiver may view the degrading behaviour from a coach as producing guilt or shame (Seifried, 2008).

A study by Chase (1998) revealed that encouragement from significant others (e.g. a coach or parent), was the most frequent source of self-efficacy for 10 to 12 year olds in a school PE class. VaezMousavi and Shojaei (2005) also found that spontaneous behaviours such as general encouragement and general technical instruction were more likely to result in better outcomes and more desired athletes behaviours.

Coaches should allow and expect error early on in learning a new skill to allow discovery of new movements (Hodges & Franks, 2002). In the current study it appears that the coach allowed for errors as most of the behaviours recorded in the current study were spontaneous (59/84) and were used to encourage the participants into making improvements. The high number of spontaneous could link to the progression and ability improvement observed during the lesson. Also, very little reactive behaviour was witnessed from the instructor in the lesson.

Other studies using the CBAS to assess behaviour of a coach instructing young athletes indicates that they take a positive approach to coaching. In these studies, two-thirds of all coaching behaviours observed fell into one of three categories; positive reinforcement, general technical instruction or general encouragement. (Gould & Weinberg, 2007)

The coaching style observed in this current study can be linked to Chelladuraiaa‚¬a„?s multidimensional model of leadership (1990). Of the five listed types of leadership behaviour the coach in the study took on an autocratic role for training and instruction as most observed behaviours were giving general technical instruction and keeping control.

The coach should no cases of punishment towards the group, and agreeing with Paolucci and Violato, this would have benefited the young group as punishment would have decreased the learning ability of the group. Also, only one count of encouragement and technical instruction was observed after a mistake, indicating that there was not much support offered to improve performance after a mistake from an individual, when a lot of learning can take place if the participant knows what to change in their performance, so increased counts of these components could ultimately improve participants results, their coach-athlete relationship and their opinion of the coach. Many instances of general technical instruction were observed, indicating that the coach was trying to engage the whole group in learning basics and gaining an understanding of the essentials of the routine and movements. The second most common behaviour was keeping control. The class was active and the participants were constantly moving around so the control needed to be maintained throughout the lesson in order to achieve the outcomes. General encouragement could have been higher to increase enthusiasm and motivation amongst the participants, as well as more reinforcement after a positive action.

A leader is more likely to be successful if their behaviour is appropriate for the situation and matches the preferences of the group members. This involves combining the 5 types of leadership behaviour outlined by Chelladurai, and the three factors that control a personaa‚¬a„?s ability to lead; situation characteristics, leader characteristics, and member characteristics. When these characteristics and behaviours are combined, the group members are expected to achieve their best performances and feel most satisfied.


This study has used 7 components of the Coaching Behaviour Assessment System (CBAS) to observe a coach during a dance lesson. The results indicate that coach had to give a lot of instruction and keep a lot of control during the class. This may be due to the low skill level of the group and the young age of the participants respectively. Other factors were observed only a few times, and these behaviours were instruction, encouragement or reinforcement to help the participants understand and develop the skills required for the dance routine. Punishment was the only behaviour to not be observed during the 30 minute observation period, and this may be to keep the participants interested and motivated to continue partaking in the dance activity in future physical education lessons, in agreement with Paolucci and Violato (2004).