Peer Relationships & Productive Learning in Physical Education

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In this lesson, we will discuss how peer relationships and a productive learning environment contribute to student success in the physical education classroom.

Physical Activity and Psychological Health

Which came first - the chicken or the egg? This age-old argument can be used to describe the relationship between peer relationships and physical activity. In additional to improved health, students who engage in regular physical activity have improved psychological health. It is also true that those with strong, positive relationships with their peers are more likely to engage in physical activity. Let's examine peer relationships and productive learning environments in the physical education classroom.

Peer Relationships

As students get older, peer relationships (friendships) become more important as a motivating factor for learning. Students who have positive peer influences are more likely to care about their education and apply effort. Further, students who participate in sports and physical activities receive more peer acceptance than those that do not, yet as students get older, they are less likely to engage in physical activity. One possible explanation for this contradiction may be that older students begin to feel less confident in their abilities and are afraid that others will judge them for their mistakes. To make the most of peer relationships as a vehicle for engaging students in physical education, the teacher needs to explicitly teach social skills and give students the opportunity to work with their peers on achieving their goals.

In addition to the encouragement and reinforcement that peer relationships can provide, Albert Bandura's social learning theory suggests that students learn vicariously through observation of others. Lev Vygotsky agreed that interactions with others are required for students to achieve their full potential. Students need opportunities to interact with one another within a structured learning environment to learn new skills.

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