Interpreting & Applying Student Performance Data in P.E.

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  • 0:04 Data
  • 0:44 Individual Performance
  • 2:30 Group Performance
  • 3:42 Testing
  • 4:22 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christopher Sailus

Chris has an M.A. in history and taught university and high school history.

In this lesson, we explore the concept of performance data in relation to a physical education course, the types of data which can be compiled, and the ways in which it should be used.


We live in a data-driven world. Whether it's the countless megabytes of data we access through our computers or phones every day, or the innumerable automated processes which depend on data in our cities and towns, data touches our lives each and every day. Data is important in most things, even in things we would not normally associate with data, such as in a physical education class.

However, if tracked well, data generated by student performances, simply known as performance data, can be analyzed, interpreted, and used to help enhance a student's development. In this lesson, we'll discuss a few strategies to develop that data and ways it should be used.

Individual Performance

Performance data can run the gamut in a physical education course. We'll go over a few different kinds, but let's examine individual data first. The most straightforward data can be gained through simple measurements on a student's strength and personal skills in basic calisthenics or exercises. For example, counting a student's ability to do push-ups, sit-ups, and chin-ups, or timing them running a mile, can be a great way to measure progress in a course.

At the beginning of a semester, counting how many repetitions a student can do in a minute, or before giving up, can give you some baseline data for a student's strength and stamina. At regularly timed intervals throughout the course, you can then measure the same student again on the same exercises to see how far he or she has progressed.

This data and measuring students by these standards is important, but it's not the only rubric with which students should be measured. Performance data cannot be scored in a vacuum. It must be considered as part of a holistic grading regimen, which also includes student effort, willingness to learn, participation, and any other factors the teacher might consider important to a child's physical development and, therefore, important to grade.

Most importantly, performance data should be used to ensure that students are improving. After all, a child who can do 100 push-ups is certainly stronger than a child who starts the semester only being able to do 10. However, if in the next few measurements, the first student can still only do 100 (or worse, 95 or less), he or she isn't actually improving. Think about it: if the second student manages to improve to 12, and then to 15 or 20 by the next measurement period, then the second student should probably be graded higher than the first. Clearly, that student has put in more effort at improving his or her physical capabilities.

Group Performance

Physical education, as any teacher or student will tell you, isn't just about running miles or doing sit-ups. It's also about teaching students the rules and skills of different sports and teaching them about teamwork and good communication along the way. Performance data can be gleaned from these activities as well.

Group performance data is a type of data that requires a bit more interpretation and a bit more observation. Sure, you can and should set up competitions and tournaments for your students to face off against one another and test their skills. However, because each student develops differently, you shouldn't simply give out grades to whoever wins your class tournament or class league.

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