The Impact of Online Professional Development on Physical Educators' Knowledge and Implementation of Peer Tutoring

Healy, Sean, Education - Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Block, Martin, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

Physical educators report challenges in including students with disabilities (Ammah & Hodge, 2006; Chandler & Greene, 1995; Hardin, 2005; Hodge, 1998; Kowalski & Rizzo, 1996; Linert, Sherrill, & Myers, 2001; Qi & Ha, 2012). The ability of traditional professional development (PD) to provide the teachers with the skills and knowledge they require to effectively educate students with disabilities is hindered by barriers, such as cost and availability. Online professional development (OPD) has the potential to overcome these barriers as it can be made available to teachers at their convenience, can provide just-in-time assistance, give schools access to experts and resources otherwise unavailable, and is more scalable than professional development that depend on local resources or non-online training (Dede, Jass Ketelhut, Whitehouse, Breit, & McCloskey, 2008). However, the effectiveness of OPD focused on inclusive physical education has yet to be examined.
The purpose of this randomized experimental design study was to determine the effectiveness of an OPD course to enable physical educators to implement a peer tutoring program in their classes. The study involved three elements: (a) teachers completed a pre-test, post-test and retention test that assessed their knowledge of peer tutoring to answer the question “does an OPD course provide physical educators with increased knowledge about peer tutoring?” (b) teachers were asked to self report on their ability to apply the course’s lesson to determine their perceived ability to implement peer tutoring. (c) teacher completed a Perceptions of Professional Development Survey (Buschang, 2012) to assess their perception of the online environment as a setting for professional development.
Results revealed (a) participation in an OPD course resulted in a significant increase in knowledge related to peer tutoring for physical educators who participated in the OPD course relative to physical educators who did not complete the OPD course; (b) participation in an OPD course resulted in 22% of participants (n = 8) implementing all preparation and training activities and 47% (n = 17) completed some activities, and (c) physical educators perceived the online environment as a positive setting for PD. Discussion involves an interpretation of findings and an analysis of issues relating to OPD including application of PD lessons to the class, dropout, and social interactions within the online environment.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
physical education, peer tutoring, online professional development, inclusion
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