You are on page 1of 36

Article

Teaching games and sport


for understanding:
Exploring and
reconsidering its relevance
in physical education

European Physical Education Review


2014, Vol. 20(1) 3671
The Author(s) 2013
Reprints and permission:
sagepub.co.uk/journalsPermissions.nav
DOI: 10.1177/1356336X13496001
epe.sagepub.com

Steven Stolz
La Trobe University, Australia

Shane Pill
Flinders University, Australia

Abstract
Over 30 years ago the original teaching games for understanding (TGfU) proposition was published
in a special edition of the Bulletin of Physical Education (Bunker and Thorpe, 1982). In that time
TGfU has attracted significant attention from a theoretical and pedagogical perspective as an
improved approach to games and sport teaching in physical education (PE). It has been particularly
championed as a superior alternative to what Kirk (2010) and Metzler (2011) described as a
traditional method. Recently, however, one of the TGfU authors suggested that the TGfU premise
needs to be revisited in order to explore and rethink its relevance so that pedagogy in PE again
becomes a central and practical issue for PE (Almond, 2010), as it has not been as well accepted by
PE teachers as it has by academics. In order to review and revisit TGfU and consider its relevance
to games and sport teaching in PE this paper outlines two areas of the TGfU proposition: (1) the
basis for the conceptualisation of TGfU; (2) advocacy of TGfU as nuanced versions. The empiricalscientific research surrounding TGfU and student learning in PE contexts is reviewed and analysed.
This comprehensive review has not been undertaken before. The data-driven research will facilitate a consideration as to how TGfU practically assists the physical educator improve games and
sport teaching. The review of the research literature highlighted the inconclusive nature of the
TGfU proposition and brought to attention the disparity between researcher as theory generator
and teacher practitioner as theory applier. If TGfU is to have improved relevance for teachers of PE
more of an emphasis needs to be placed on the normative characteristics of pedagogy that drive
this practice within curricula.

Corresponding author:
Steven Stolz, Faculty of Education, La Trobe University, PO Box 199 Bendigo 3552, Victoria, Australia.
Email: S.Stolz@latrobe.edu.au

36
Downloaded from epe.sagepub.com by guest on January 19, 2015

Stolz and Pill

37

Keywords
Teaching games for understanding (TGfU), teaching, physical education (PE), research

Introduction
This paper aims to revisit Bunker and Thorpes (1982) teaching of games for understanding (TGfU)
approach in physical education (PE). Since its inception as a model, the TGfU approach has been the
subject of significant attention from theoretical, research, advocacy and practical perspectives. The
review of the literature highlights how the TGfU model has been the catalyst for a global movement
involving games teaching that has spawned a diverse array of derivations around the world. Although
Bunker and Thorpe intended to challenge the status quo of what has now become known as a
traditional (Hoffman, 1971; Kirk, 2010; Metzler, 2011) approach to teaching games and sport in
PE, a closer look at the literature will show competing discourses vying for dominance in the PE
games literature (see for example, Metzler, 2011). For instance, recent research would suggest that
curriculum and pedagogical elements associated with Game Sense (den Duyn, 1996, 1997), which is
an Australian version of TGfU, are not considered by teachers as unique to a TGfU framework, or of
themselves defining of a TGfU approach because they are simply good pedagogical practice for sport
related game teaching (Pill, 2011a). This is a theme picked up by Hopper et al. (2009), who noted that
TGfU was not initially presented as a new innovation, rather an organisation and application of pedagogy that had not previously been made coherent.
For the purposes of this paper we will be concerned with the critical discussion of two issues: first,
we provide a brief historical overview of the conceptual approach commonly known as TGfU in
order to highlight how this model has spawned major iterations that may appear to be different, but
on closer inspection are defined by subtle rather than distinctive differences, some of which clarify
aspects of the original TGfU proposition; and second, in order to verify these claims we adopt a
similar methodology to Wallhead and OSullivan (2005) in which a total of 76 publications pertaining to the TGfU model were collected and segregated into two categories: theoretical (n 40)
and data-based empirical-scientific studies (n 36). The review of the non-empirical-scientific literature demonstrated the global dissemination and nuanced interpretations of TGfU since its original
description in the themed edition of the Bulletin of Physical Education in 1982. The contradictory
nature of the empirical-scientific literature, especially the attempt to capture TGfU as good pedagogical practice, is revealed in the empirical-scientific literature summarised later in Table 2. The
empirical-scientific data is inconclusive as to whether TGfU enhances games teaching and learning.
This is unlike the theoretical literature, which advocates and explains TGfU as an improvement upon
traditional (Kirk, 2010; Metzler, 2011) and in many cases still normative technical (Kirk, 2010) and
linear (Chow, et al., 2007) pedagogical practice. The assumptions of the theoretical literature about
TGfU pedagogy and comparisons with a traditional PE method (Metzler, 2011) will be explained in
the literature review following this introduction. It is anticipated that this paper will generate further
discussion and research surrounding games and sport pedagogy and learning in PE, which the results
of this research reveal are far from resolved.

Literature review
TGfU: a brief historical overview
A paradigm shift from the drill as the dominant approach to sport-related games teaching began
in the 1960s that influenced the later pedagogical elements of TGfU. Wade (1967) proposed a
37
Downloaded from epe.sagepub.com by guest on January 19, 2015

38

European Physical Education Review 20(1)

Table 1. Ellis (1983) game categories.


Territory Games

- Goal (Football)
Line (Rugby)
- Opposed (Lawn Bowls)
Unopposed (Golf)
- Net (Volleyball)
Shared (Squash)
- Fan (Softball)
Oval (Cricket)

Target Games
Court Games
Field

small-sided games framework for the combined purpose of teaching technical and tactical attack
and defence skills of football (soccer). The small-sided games framework Wade proposed involved
the minimum possible number of players for a competitive small-sided game. Small-sided modified games became a central feature of the TGfU model. Also in the late 1960s, Mosston (1968)
described the Spectrum of Teaching Styles. The Spectrum of Teaching Styles instructional strategies guided PE teachers towards the purposeful choice of pedagogical action to meet specific
teaching objectives (Mosston, 1981). The guided discovery style explained by Mosston is not
unlike the TGfU emphasis on teacher questioning to both prompt examination of a target game
concept and focus game understanding.
Mauldon and Redfern (1969) suggested that physical educators should not call a person educated
who has simply mastered a skill and presented a new approach for games teaching. Mauldon and
Redferns new approach (1969) contained three elements: (1) game categories to group games of
similar nature so that teaching for conceptual and skill transfer between similar games could occur; (2)
game analysis by players so that players were prompted to develop game appreciation and understanding; and (3) structured situations for player experimentation and problem solving. They proposed
that all games contained one or more of three elements: (1) sending an object away; (2) gaining
possession of an object; and (3) travelling with an object. These elements were used to group games
into three categories: (a) net games; b) batting games; and (c) running games. The purpose of the game
classification was to assist the process of game analysis for player development of game appreciation,
and to assist teaching for skill and knowledge transfer between games. These features are also present
as emphasised pedagogical themes in the description of TGfU (Bunker and Thorpe, 1982).
Game classification was later refined to four categories and eight sub-categories by Ellis (1983)
(Table 1).
Despite these developments in games and sport teaching, games teaching in secondary PE
continued to be structured as sport-as-techniques in highly structured lessons (Kirk, 2010). The
decontextualised nature of learning skills as motor patterns isolated from the movementinformation coupling of the game meant that students experiences of sport were not authentic (Savelsbergh et al., 2003). Some suggested that a large percentage of students completed the
compulsory years of schooling and participation in PE achieving very little success, and knowing
very little about games and sport (Bunker and Thorpe 1982, Siedentop 1994).

TGfU: an approach for improved games teaching?


In 1982, TGfU proposed that the games teaching emphasis be placed on understanding the logic of
play imposed by the rules of the game, and that appreciation of the tactical structure of play be
38
Downloaded from epe.sagepub.com by guest on January 19, 2015

Stolz and Pill

39

learnt before highly structured technique teaching was proposed (Bunker and Thorpe, 1982). It
emerged as a counter to the perceived shortcomings for student learning inherent in the highly
structured sport-as-techniques (Kirk, 2010) traditional PE method (Metzler, 2011) in secondary
PE. The model now known as TGfU continued the evolution of the small-sided games approach
(Werner et al., 1996) while outlining a sequential cycle of teaching based on the premise that game
understanding and decision making was not dependent on the prior development of sport specific
movement techniques.
Just as Mauldon and Redferns (1969) approach challenged the curriculum and pedagogical
practice of PE, TGfU challenged traditional PE method of progression as an additive process by
proposing that children could learn to play modified versions of games ahead of mastering the
mature skills (Kirk, 2010: 85). The six-step TGfU cycle of teaching assumed that students learn
best if they understand what to do before they understand how to do it (Griffin et al., 2005: 215). As
already indicated, the TGfU model combined features of earlier departures from the PE method.
However, it was the clear articulation of guiding pedagogical principles (Bunker and Thorpe,
1982) and theoretical support from the perspective of cognitive educational psychology (Pigott,
1982) that was perhaps significant to the models subsequent academic acceptance.
The distinctiveness of the TGfU model is sometimes suggested as belonging with its guiding
pedagogical principles (Thorpe et al., 1984). These are as follows (Thorpe et al., 1986: 164167):
1. Sampling: The use of modified games and sport as a way to experience adult versions of
games;
2. Exaggeration: Changing game structures, such as rules, equipment and play space, to promote,
exaggerate, control or eliminate certain game behaviours to enable teaching through the game;
3. Representation: Small-sided modified games structured to suit the age and/or experience of
the players; and
4. Questioning: Prompting student thinking and problem solving by questions so that knowledge of what to do, when to do it and why to do it develops and leads to the question of how
to perform movement in the context of play.
However, these pedagogical elements were already advocated as advances in games teaching.
What TGfU approach accomplished was the organisation of the pedagogy into a coherent proposition (Thorpe et al., 1986).
Since Bunker and Thorpes (1982) original description and explanation of the TGfU approach
and further elaboration (Bunker and Thorpe, 1983; Thorpe et al., 1986), it has been advocated as
nuanced interpretations. This growth reflected similar concerns to overcome problems of: (1)
isolated (from the game) direct teaching of skill drills and defining of skills as techniques; (2)
perceptions that student motivation in games teaching is low; and (3) the absence of relevance of
PE to the achievement of educational outcomes (Lopez et al., 2009). The next section of the paper
briefly summarises the advocacy of TGfU occurring through the major interpretations of TGfU
occurring in the PE literature.

Developing TGfU globally: the major iterations


Tactical Games. The Tactical Games approach (Griffin et al., 1997; Mitchell et al., 2003, 2006)
simplified the six-step teaching and learning cycle of TGfU into a three-step cycle to make it easier
for teachers to understand the learning process (Figure 1). The Tactical Games model also
39
Downloaded from epe.sagepub.com by guest on January 19, 2015

40

European Physical Education Review 20(1)

Game Form
(Representation, Exaggeration)

Tactical Awareness

Skill Execution

What to do?

How to do it?

Figure 1. Tactical Games approach.

introduced a structured progression through levels of sport skill learning to provide a complete
package for teaching (Mitchell et al., 2006: 5) for middle and secondary school PE that was missing from the TGfU literature. The benefit of such an approach for teachers was that they did not
have to be as reliant on developing sport-specific domain knowledge across a broad range of different sports. Questions to guide the development of game understanding and skill practices during
lessons were focussed through an overarching tactical problem.
As Figure 1 illustrates, the Tactical Games approach did not change the tactical-before-technical
linear teaching cycle of the original TGfU proposition. However, a substantial addition to the pedagogy of TGfU was the description of an assessment tool that accounted for on-the-ball and off-theball game play, known as the Games Performance Assessment Instrument (GPAI). The GPAI
enabled codification of tactical decision making, off-the-ball movement to read and respond, and
on-the-ball reaction and then recovery to a position for further game involvement (Hopper, 2003).
Seven components of game performance were defined in the GPAI to provide flexibility and adaptability of the instrument across TGfU game categories (Mitchell et al., 2006).
Game Sense. The term Game Sense was used by Thorpe and West in 1969 as a description of
game intelligence and as a games teaching performance measure. However, Game Sense is more
commonly recognised as emerging from the field of sport coaching in Australia. In 1993,
Charlesworth described Game Sense as the objective of player development at the elite sport
level. He described Designer Games (Charlesworth, 1993, 1994) as the structure to achieve the
combining of specific technical, tactical and fitness training in a game practice that simulates
game conditions to develop player game sense. The idea of Game Sense developed into a sport
teaching approach during a series of visits by Rod Thorpe to Australia in the mid 1990s to work
with the Australian Sports Commission (Thorpe, 2012). A player-centred model (Schembri,
2005) to develop the tactical and technical foundations of sport through a game-centred training
structure was described (den Duyn, 1996, 1997; Thorpe, 1997). Thorpe (2006) has described the
Game Sense model as incorporating more than the original TGfU model (Kidman, 2005: 233),
and so the Game Sense model may be justifiably seen as a further refinement of TGfU for sport
skill teaching.
The central focus of the Game Sense approach is the development of thinking players (den
Duyn, 1997). This objective for sport teaching is pursued via the coupling of movement technique to game context as skilled performance; or, as den Duyn (1997) described, Technique
40
Downloaded from epe.sagepub.com by guest on January 19, 2015

Stolz and Pill

41

Technique

Game Context

Skill

Figure 2. Game Sense (den Duyn, 1997).

Game Categories

Invasion

Court

Field

Territory

1. Game

2. Game Appreciation

1. Learner

3. Tactical Awareness

6. Performance

4. Making Appropriate
Decisions

What to do?

5. Skill Execution

How to do it?

Figure 3. The teaching games for understanding (TGfU) approach.

Game Context Skill (Figure 2). The original Game Sense description did not elaborate the
teaching of game appreciation and understanding before a focus on the refinement of skill
execution, but discussed the development of technical and tactical game components as being
taught together. This was a fine distinction but a departure from the six-step TGfU tacticalbefore-technical cycle of learning where game appreciation occurs before technique development (Figure 3).
Similar to the TGfU (and Tactical Games) model, small-sided games and the use of questioning
to develop tactical game understanding were central to the pedagogy of a Game Sense approach.
Also similar to the Tactical Games model, a thematic curriculum for the teaching of sport skill
foundations based on the TGfU game categories emerged, elaborated via the Game Sense Cards
(Australian Sports Commission, 1999a) and then the Active After Schools Playing for Life kit
41
Downloaded from epe.sagepub.com by guest on January 19, 2015

42

European Physical Education Review 20(1)

(Australian Sports Commission, 2005). The Game Sense cards were similar to the Playsport minigames instructional cards designed by Rod Thorpe (Thorpe, 2006).
Similar to TGfUs initial articulation, Game Sense did not initially distinguish between smallsided games for fundamental sport skill learning and small-sided game play for more complex tactical and technical skill learning. It was later refined into a three-stage curriculum model aligned to
the continuum of achievement evident in Australian Health and PE curriculum frameworks, and
the general direction of Cote et al.s (2003) developmental model of sport participation as Play
with Purpose (Pill, 2007).
Play Practice. Game Sense also forms part of the Play Practice approach (Launder, 2001). The Play
Practice approach, however, explains Game Sense as one of several elements required for successful game involvement. Similar to Charlesworths (1993, 1994) description of Designer Games,
Play Practice positions Game Sense as a sport-teaching/coaching objective. Like Designer Games,
Play Practices could be seen as activities that sit within a Game Sense approach, alongside skill
drills and other instructional strategies, used to teach individual and group situational skills and
decision making in time-outs between small-sided game play and match simulation via Designer
Games.
The Play Practice pedagogy of shaping the play to suit the experience of players, focussing the play
on learning sport skills, and enhancing play by directing attention to any elements of play requiring
improvement (Launder, 2001) are conceptually similar to the TGfU pedagogy of teaching through the
game and directing learning by sampling, exaggerating and representation of game structures. Like
TGfU, Tactical Games and Game Sense models, Play Practice pedagogy encouraged teachers to adopt
a broad range of instructional strategies to achieve task objectives; however, there is no obvious
emphasis on the development of thinking players by guided discovery using questioning as a central
pedagogical tool as there is in the TGfU, Game Sense and Tactical Games models.
Invasion games competency model. In the invasion games competency model (IGCM) players
progress through a sequential series of basic game forms (modified games) growing in complexity
as they master the objectives of each game form. A game situation is the starting point for lessons,
and the introductory game is designed to relate the tactical and technical elements of the situation
to the players. Similar to other versions of TGfU, when using the IGCM teachers are encouraged to
monitor the play for tactical problems and intervene to stop the game where appropriate to question
players, thereby encouraging players to think about the aim of the game. Once players recognise
the need for new skills or skill refinement, practice occurs (Tallir et al., 2004, 2005).
Tactical decision learning model. The tactical decision learning model (T-DLM) focusses on student
exploration of the various possibilities of game play and on the construction of adequate movement
responses in small-sided invasion games (Grehaigne et al., 2005a). After experiencing the game,
teams propose action plans (game plans) which are then tried out in play and progressively refined
as players develop more sophisticated understanding of the relationship between the action plan
and the game rules (Grehaigne and Godbout, 1995). Once stabilisation of game understanding
appears to have taken place, the teacher increases the complexity of the game, and eventually introduces another team sport to initiate generalisation of game understanding across sports (Grehaigne
et al., 2005b). Similar to the Tactical Games approach emphasis on data collection, observational
assessment and the collection of qualitative and quantitative feedback are central to the T-DLM.
This data collection may occur through the tracking of player movement using descriptive drawing
42
Downloaded from epe.sagepub.com by guest on January 19, 2015

Stolz and Pill

43

and statistical measures such as the Team Sport Assessment Instrument. This instrument contains
assessment criteria to account for players specific behaviours during game play (Grehaigne and
Godbout 1997, 1998; Grehaigne et al.2005a).
TGfU is also familiar in Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Macau, Japan and Korea (Liu, 2010), and
in Singapore it is known as the Games Concept Approach (Light and Tan, 2006).

Theoretical framework used to organise the literature review


Adopting a similar methodology to Wallhead and OSullivan (2005), initial articles and papers
were sourced by a key word search in Google Scholar utilising TGfU, teaching games for
understanding, tactical games and game sense and physical education. From the initial searches
additional articles, papers and books were sourced through citations and references.
The review of literature revealed four sub-categories of TGfU publication. The first type of publication consisted of theories of sport teaching and learning. The publications discussed the tenets of a
model of sport or games teaching and the pedagogical content knowledge (Shulman, 1987). Issues
addressed within this type of literature include the cycle of learning (Bunker and Thorpe, 1982; Griffin et al., 1997; Mitchell et al., 2006), pedagogical strategies (Bell, 2003; den Duyn, 1997; Grehaigne
et al., 2005a; Griffin et al., 1997; Launder, 2001; Mitchell et al., 2006, Pill, 2007, 2011b; Piltz, 2003),
and the application of TGfU to sport skill-teaching pedagogy (Breed and Spittle, 2011; Charlesworth,
1993; den Duyn, 1997; Grehaigne et al., 2005b; Griffin et al., 1997; Hopper, 1998; Launder, 2001;
Mitchell et al., 2006; Schembri 2005). This literature also included examples of how to implement
teaching games and sport for understanding in school and coaching contexts.
The second category of publication included advocacy for teaching games and sport for
understanding for a better practice of sport teaching and coaching. The publications elaborated on
the assumptions and assertions of efficacy of the descriptions of the TGfU models being implemented around the world (Chow et al., 2007; Kirk et al., 2000; Launder and Piltz, 2006; Pigott,
1982; Pill, 2010; Piltz, 2002; Renshaw et al., 2010; Thorpe, 1997) and the personal experience of
the authors with the model (Butler and McCahan, 2005; Kirk et al., 2000; Light et al., 2005). This
type of publication asserted enhanced student learning and games teaching resulting from the
adoption of the pedagogical and content tenets of a TGfU-style curriculum based on theories of
skill learning or the authors experience of games teaching.
The third category of publication included the perspective of the practitioner. It included the
data driven studies evaluating the limits, constraints and possibilities of teaching games and sport
for understanding on various dimensions of sport learning, the achievement of curriculum outcomes and design and implementation of curriculum. It would not be appropriate to make statements regarding the advantages of models without reviewing the empirical-scientific literature
(Chandler and Mitchell, 1990; Lopez et al., 2009). The results of the literature review are contained
in Table 2 and discussed in detail later in the paper.
The fourth category of publication dealt with the implementation of teaching games and sport
for understanding into the coursework and tertiary education experiences directed at pre-service
teacher pedagogical content knowledge (Forrest et al., 2006; Howarth and Walkuski, 2003;
Howarth, 2005; Light, 2003; Light and Georgakis, 2005; Pill, 2009; Sweeney et al., 2003). The
narrative of this research is that pre-service teachers are attracted to the model but find the pedagogical content knowledge required to implement the theoretical model into practice troublesome,
which as a result limits feelings of efficacy with the model. The intention in this paper is not to
43
Downloaded from epe.sagepub.com by guest on January 19, 2015

44

Downloaded from epe.sagepub.com by guest on January 19, 2015

Data source

Findings

TGfU

Butler, 1996

Teachers are
interviewed about
attractions and
drawbacks of the
tactical approach

Ten teachers working


across Years 311,
ranging in teaching
experience from 7
30 years, teaching
activities of choice

(continued)

Positive outcomes
Quantitative data provided by
- More teacher questions at a higher cognitive level
Cheffers adaption of Flanders
- The focus of the lesson changed from executing
Interaction Analysis System,
skills to understanding tactics
Individual Ration Gestalt, Teachers
- The teachers focus changed from a concern with
Performance Criteria
control to student learning
Questionnaire, and an analysis of
Concerns
teacher questioning (coding of
- Students need to learn skills before they can play a
video of teaching).
game
Qualitative data provided by
- Strategies need to be learnt under the guidance of
individual participant interviews
the teacher
- The execution of skills is more easily evaluated than
the concepts of TGfU
- The technical model offers greater control over
students
- The teachers role is to transmit knowledge
- TGfU is only suitable for older students, or the
emotionally mature and highly motivated
- Cognitive focus comes at the expense of the
physical
Turner, 1996 Examining the validity of 24 Year 6 and 24 Year 7 HenryFriedel Field Hocket Test pre
 No significant differences in skill development
between TGfU and technique groups on the skill test
test and post test, 30-item multiple
students assigned to
the TGfU approach
choice knowledge test, and a
four teaching groups
by comparing it with
 TGfU improved significantly more than technique
coding of game decisions (control,
group for declarative knowledge
of 12 students
the technique
decision making, execution) during
undertook a field
approach
 TGfU group improved significantly more than
game play and participant
hockey unit
technique group in control and decision making in
interviews
game play
 The interview data indicated game-related activities
provided the most enjoyment

Participants and setting

TGfU

Focus

Author/s

Study

Table 2. General overview of literature review.

45

Downloaded from epe.sagepub.com by guest on January 19, 2015

Data source

TGfU

Badminton knowledge, skill and game


French et al., The effects of a 3-week 48 Year 9 students
play (videotaping), and use of
randomly selected
1996
skill, tactical or comknowledge during performance
from a cohort of
bined tactical and skill
were quantitatively analysed
approx 90 students,
instruction on
with 12 students
performance
assigned to three
treatment groups and
a control group
French et al., The effects of a 6-week 52 students from three Quantitative analysis of skill and
knowledge tests, observation of
Year 9 badminton
1996
skill, tactical or comgame play and planning interviews
classes assigned to
bined tactical and skill
during game play
three treatment
instruction on
groups and a control
performance
group

Participants and setting

TGfU

Focus

Author/s

Study

Table 2 (continued)

(continued)

 The skill and tactical group exhibited better


performance than other groups on important
measures of game play
 The skill group performed decision components of
performance as well as the tactical group
 The combination group exhibited poorer
performance on cognitive (game decisions) and skill
components of performance than the skill or tactical
groups
 Cognitive representations of badminton skill
developed differently in each group; the tactical group
responded with general tactical statements whereas
the skill and combination groups used more specific
statements about shot selection and execution

 The tactical group accessed more action concepts


during the game than the skill or combination groups

Findings

46

Downloaded from epe.sagepub.com by guest on January 19, 2015

Turner and
Martinek,
1999

Alison and
Thorpe,
1997

TGfU

TGfU

Author/s

Study

Table 2 (continued)

Comparison of TGfU
with a technique
approach and a
control group

40 year 9 boys and 56 Quantitative analysis of students pre


and post-intervention tests using
year 8 girls from one
AAPHERD basketball skill tests
secondary school
and the HenryFriedel Field
Hockey test, knowledge and
understanding test. A student
affective domain questionnaire and
teachers post-lesson questionnaires were analysed qualitatively
Quantitative analysis of pre and post
71 middle years
tests of hockey knowledge, skill
students being taught
and game performance
field hockey by a PE
specialist

Compare effectiveness
of skill and TGfU
approaches

Data source

Participants and setting

Focus

(continued)

 While there were no significant differences for


dribbling or shooting decision making, students
receiving TGfU instruction made better passing
decisions
 Although the TGfU group scored higher than the
technique group for procedural knowledge, the
differences were not significantly different
 Students in the TGfU group exhibited significantly
better control and passing execution during post-test
game play
 On most measures of game play the skill group did
not perform better than the control group
 There were no significant differences between the
groups on the accuracy component of the field skill
tests

 TGfU groups improved skill development more


than skill-based groups
 Both students and teachers felt students were more
involved in planning and evaluation during TGfU lessons
 Teachers felt they had more opportunity to
observe and assess during TGfU lessons

Findings

47

Downloaded from epe.sagepub.com by guest on January 19, 2015

Qualitative analysis of three critical


incident vignettes

Nine students from two Qualitative analysis of open ended


Turner et al., The meaning middle
interviews
Year 6 and one Year
2001
school students
7 class divided into
constructed for the
three teaching
concept of skilfulness
groups were
in the game of field
purposefully sampled
hockey taught within
the games for
understanding
instructional context

Describe what happens Year 8 PE class doing a


basketball unit
when a TGfU
approach was
implemented in Year
8 PE

TGfU

Data source

Kirk et al.,
2000

Participants and setting

TGfU

Focus

Author/s

Study

Table 2 (continued)

(continued)

 The extent to which players were able to perceive


cues for action in the physical environment was a key
factor limiting task performance
 Recognising appropriate cues at least in part
triggers remembering those strategies
 It is important players develop declarative and
procedural knowledge and technical competence
 Tasks need to connect with students emerging
understanding of the strategies and tactics
 Students taught from the TGfU perspective develop
declarative knowledge of strategies early in the
learning process, but that this knowledge is not
necessarily transformed into procedural knowledge,
even when the technical demands of the task are
simplified
 The constructed meaning of skilfulness centred
around tactical understanding and decision
making . . . how skills are used tactically in the game
to achieve the purpose of the game
 Students consistently referred to vision as a key skill
element
 Students defined personal success in terms of game
play performance

Findings

48

Downloaded from epe.sagepub.com by guest on January 19, 2015

Data source

Findings

TGfU

TGfU

TGfU

(continued)

Harvey, 2003 Examine whether TGfU 16 participants aged 16 Players performance in a modified
 Student game performance and game involvement
were reported as improved. It was suggested that the
game situation was quantitatively
18 involved in a
could be utilised to
TGfU approach has the potential to improve
analysed from video before, during
soccer development
improve specific
involvement and performance in team sport by
and after the intervention
squad
aspects of game
increasing decision making capacities in order to
involvement and
execute more effective skills and less ineffective
performance in
soccer
Cruz, 2004
Investigate teachers and 5 secondary PE teachers Post-team handball unit teaching
 Teachers held positive views on the TGfU approach
and their students
interviews and end-of-unit student
students perceptions
 Students indicated they had learnt more about
questionnaire
tactics and rules of the game
towards the
implementation of
TGfU
Four college students
Qualitative analysis of transcribed
Henninger
Examine novice
 Novices bring domain-specific knowledge into PE
enrolled in an
talk-aloud and written protocol
classes and sport settings but have difficulty using that
et al.,
volleyball players
elective volleyball
responses
knowledge to generate tactical plans to use in game
2006
domain-specific
class
play
knowledge and how
it is used to make
 Teachers and coaches must create learning envirtactical decisions
onments that allow students/athletes to develop their
tactical decision making within game play contexts
144 Year 6 PE students Quantitative analysis of self-reported
Harvey et al., Assess changes in
 There are positive associations between students
self-reported perception of their involvement in PE
(four classes)
questionnaires assessing the affec2009
student perceptions
classes utilising TGfU
tive domain
of involvement in a
unit of soccer using
 Significant increases in learning and effort
the TGfU approach
 TGfU can effectively engage students regardless of
skill level

Participants and setting

TGfU

Focus

Author/s

Study

Table 2 (continued)

49

Downloaded from epe.sagepub.com by guest on January 19, 2015

Data source

TGfU

TGfU

34 soccer players from a Quantitative analysis of a preHarvey et al., Assess a practiceobservation and baseline assesshigh school soccer
2010
referenced approach
ment followed by an 8-week
programme
for TGfU evaluation,
intervention phase with three
test game perforassessments using video capture of
mance using the
game performance
GPAI, assess how
align of practice contributed to game
performance
Intrinsic motivation inventory was
Jones et al., Examine the impact of 194 Year 9 students
administered pre and post
from three schools
2010
TGfU vs. a
intervention
were assigned to one
Traditional skillsof the treatment
based approach on
conditions
intrinsic motivation
Investigate the effects a 52 secondary students Student focus group interviews, pre
Gray and
and the two teachers
and post-intervention game video
tactical teaching
Sproule,
analysis, student questionnaire
approach had on
2011
game knowledge,
game playing
performance and
pupil perception of
decision-making
ability

Participants and setting

TGfU

Focus

Author/s

Study

Table 2 (continued)

(continued)

 No significant difference between groups post


intervention in terms of on-the-ball skills
 Skill-based group believed decision-making ability
had deteriorated, game-based group believed on-theball and off-the-ball decision making had improved
 The game performance data demonstrated that the
game-based group made significantly more good
decisions on and off the ball

 Affective experiences can be significantly enhanced


through TGfU
 TGfU a meaningful and valued games pedagogy,
especially for girls

 Support for the notion that a practice-referenced


approach as a viable framework for assessing learning
with TGfU in the context to which it applied
 Game-situated teaching and learning (aligned practiced) led to faster responses and quicker reactions
within the game environment off the ball and thus an
improvement in the numbers of appropriate game
responses

Findings

50

Downloaded from epe.sagepub.com by guest on January 19, 2015

Balakrishnan
et al.,
2011

Jones and
Farrow,
1999

Game Sense

Broek et al.,
2011

TGfU

TGfU

Author/s

Study

Table 2 (continued)
Participants and setting

Data source

Investigate the decision- 122 university students


doing a volleyball
making process of
practical course
three instructional
divided into six
groups (teachertraining groups
centred, studentcentred with tactical
questioning and student centred without
tactical questioning)
in volleyball

Quantitative analysis of the tactical


awareness scores with testing
phases (pre-test, post test, retention test) within instructional
group (teacher-centred, studentcentred with tactical questioning
and student-centred without tactical questioning) and gender (male
and female) as factors. Students
were assessed using a volleyballspecific Tactical Awareness Test
Four Year 5 PE classes in All groups tested for initial game
Investigate whether
performance using a GPAI as a pre
one school: two
tactical learning
test score. After the instruction
classes randomly
outcomes can be
period the GPAI was readminisassigned as control
improved with the
tered as a post test
groups and two
TGfU approach
classes as the
experimental groups
Transfer of knowledge Two classes of year 8, Quantitative study. Students were
tested on decision making and
one group the
between games in the
decision making speed in badmincontrol and the other
same category
ton during game play. The control
the experimental
group undertook a rugby unit
group
while the experimental group
undertook a volleyball unit. All
students were reassessed on
decision making and decision
making speed in badminton.

Focus

(continued)

 Students in the experimental group had better


decision-making skills and decision-making speed than
the control group
 There was no appreciable difference in skill level
between the two groups
 Tactical understanding of the experimental group
was significantly better than the control group

 Significant mean difference between TGfU approach


and traditional skill approach groups
 TGfU approach improved primary PE students
learning outcome

 The tactical knowledge of the student-centred


instructional group with tactical questioning
improved significantly more than the two other
instructional groups

Findings

51

Downloaded from epe.sagepub.com by guest on January 19, 2015

Data source

Findings

Game Sense

Game Sense

Brooker
et al.,
2000

Implementing Game
Sense as a new
approach to games
teaching

Two PE teachers and a


co-educational Year
8 class doing a basketball unit

Qualitative study. Video of each of


the five lessons and an audio
transcript, informal interviews
with selected students during
lessons, and teacher reflective
journals

(continued)

 Limited understanding of the conceptual aspects of a


sport is a constraint upon teacher confidence in the
enactment of a Game Sense approach
 Where Game Sense is an unfamiliar approach
teachers may initially feel de-skilled and need to
revisit planning skills
 Student perceptions about the value of playing a
modified game vs. playing the real game influence the
successful introduction of a Game Sense approach
Six participants
Qualitative analysis of participant
Strengths of a Game Sense approach
Light, 2004
Examines practicing
interviews
- Developing off-the-ball play
coaches experience
- Training that replicates game conditions that results
with Game Sense in a
in transfer from training to the game
range of sports
- Creating independent decision makers
played from
- Player motivation
introductory to elite
Challenges of a Game Sense approach
level
- Change in the coach-player relationship
- The aesthetics of training changes such that training
doesnt look right as it is less ordered
- Time constraints as it was perceived that a GS
approach takes longer to get results
Austin et al., Fundamental movement One pre-service gener- Action research implemented over a
 Students improved in skill level for the FMS of the
kick
6-week period with pre and post
2004
skills
alist primary school
assessment of FMS proficiency
(K-6) pre-service
 The Game Sense approach provided an effective
method of gaining and maintaining student interest in
using checklists from the Get
teacher and a Year 3
the participation and performance of the kick in the
Skilled: Get Active package, stuco-educational class
context of soccer
dent self and peer checklists and
of 28 students
information sheets, and teacher
observation sheets

Participants and setting

Game Sense

Focus

Author/s

Study

Table 2 (continued)

52

Downloaded from epe.sagepub.com by guest on January 19, 2015

Pill, 2011a

Mitchell
et al.,
1995

Berkowitz,
1996

Tactical Games
approach

Tactical Games
approach

Chen and
Light,
2006

Game Sense

Game Sense

Author/s

Study

Table 2 (continued)

Pre and post tests of knowledge and


Relative effectiveness of One class of Year 6
game performance, and an
taught by a tactical
tactical and skillassessment of motivation by the
approach, another
based approaches
Intrinsic Motivation Inventory
Year 6 class Taught
by the same teacher
but using a skill-based
approach
Reflective writing
A teachers personal
Practitioner reflection
reflection on
on the change from
changing teaching
skill-based teaching
approach
to tactical-based
teaching

64 teachers

Qualitative Case Study, 9 weeks one


lesson/week. Interpretative
analysis of all-class questionnaires,
one-on-one interviews with eight
students, observation and student
drawings
Qualitative analysis of web survey

Year 6 students coeducational class of


30 students

Game sense pedagogy


capacity to promote
more positive
attitudes toward
sport

Teacher engagement
with TGfU Game
Sense in Australia

Data source

Participants and setting

Focus

(continued)

 The teacher believed a TGA enabled her to achieve


more and that student game play improvement and
game understanding during play was more apparent
than when the teacher had used a skill-based
approach

 Game sense thought to be most applicable to senior


years (Year 11 and 12) PE
 Small-sided games and questioning as pedagogy not
seen as distinctive to a Game Sense approach
 Game Sense game categories did not feature in
curriculum planning
 Game Sense yet to be fully understood and
implemented
 Students in the tactical group had higher
percentages of game involvement
 No significant differences between the tactical and
technical groups for most skill execution measures
and decision making

 Significant change for the better in the eight less


sporty students attitudes toward cricket and softball
 Significant improvement in social relations within
the class and in the students game play

Findings

53

Downloaded from epe.sagepub.com by guest on January 19, 2015

Data source

Tactical Games
approach

Tactical Games
approach

Tactical Games
Approach

Mitchell and
Oslin,
1999

Pre and post intervention video tapTo address the question 21 students randomly
selected from Year 9
ping of badminton singles play.
of whether tactical
Badminton instruction was folunderstanding
lowed by pickle ball instruction.
transfers across
Decision making during game play
games in the net
was assessed using a GPAI
games category
Tactic vs. skill teaching 182 beginning university Quantitative analysis. AAHPERD
Harrison
(1969) volleyball skill test, coding
instruction
volleyball students in
et al.,
video of game trials, self-efficacy
six classes divided
2004
scales, knowledge test.
into high, medium
and low-skilled ability
groups
Quantitative analysis of pre and post
Martin, 2004 To determine whether 36 randomly selected
Year 6 students
assessment of decision making
tactical
from video of ultimate frisbee
understanding
game play using GPAI. Two
transfers across
structured questionnaires
games in the invasion
provided to 10 randomly selected
games category
students during the team handball
unit, and all students were
videotaped in team handball game
play.
Investigate the effects of 218 students aged 10 Pre and post intervention measures
Wallhead
of student enjoyment and per16 from 11 schools
a TGA on students
and
ceived effort, competence and
(13 classes)
motivational
Deglan,
learning were obtained
response
2004

Participants and setting

Tactical Games
approach

Focus

Author/s

Study

Table 2 (continued)

(continued)

 The pedagogy of the TGA seemed to foster nonthreatening level of challenge to students such that
the students enjoyed the experience of mastering the
tactical dimensions of the game and are motivated to
engage within games-based activities

 Both skill teaching and tactical instruction produced


improvement on skill tests, self-efficacy, knowledge
and game play
 Students can improve significantly with either skill
teaching or a tactical model as long as the teacher
creates a positive learning environment
 Tactical understanding improved during the
ultimate Frisbee unit and was sustained into the team
handball unit

 Tactical understanding improved during badminton


instruction and this improvement was sustained
during pickleball

Findings

54

Downloaded from epe.sagepub.com by guest on January 19, 2015

Data source

Bohler, 2009 Investigating the Tactical Two middle school Year Qualitative analysis of structured
student pre and post unit
Games model
6 PE teachers and
interviews, descriptive field notes,
their combined
video and audio taped
classes undertaking a
performances, student think aloud
volleyball unit
reports during games, and a
situational knowledge quiz

Tactical Games
approach

Examine the effects of Four students from each The dependent variable supporting
movement was coded from
of three middle
technique-focussed
observation of video of
school PE classes
and tactic-focussed
instructional and match games
were observed. Two
instructional condiclasses with a
tions on the learning
tactical-focussed
of a tactic
intervention and a
third class acting as
the control
Qualitative analysis of pre and post
Determine the levels of Six selected students
tests of tactical skill and cognitive
from a Year 4 class,
tactical motor and
understanding, end-of-lesson free
two students within
cognitive learning
writes, students interviews and
each skill level high,
researcher journal
middle, low

Participants and setting

Townsend
et al.,
2009

Lee and
Ward,
2009

Tactical Games
approach

Focus

Tactical Games
approach

Author/s

Study

Table 2 (continued)

(continued)

 Students cognitively understand tactics before they


could successfully execute them
 Students enjoyed a tactical approach because they
played games and practised with team-mates, but did
not enjoy the time spent listening during questioning
periods
 Students as young as Year 4 can succeed in a tactical
approach, but teachers must attend to pertinent
questioning techniques
 A tactical game model may contribute to student
tactical understanding and may enhance student
decision making and game performance
 Unit length is a constraint on student development
of deeper and more sophisticated knowledge
structures

 Substantive improvement of supporting behaviours


during tactic-focussed instruction than during
technique-focussed instruction of supporting movement for low-skilled females and males, and for
average-skilled females

Findings

55

Downloaded from epe.sagepub.com by guest on January 19, 2015

304 upper primary


Qualitative analysis of a 6-item open
Evaluate whether
students
inventory
children perceive
GCA as adding value
to their PE
experience
Quantitative analysis of pre test and
Analyse the effects of a 10 male participants
then post test of the experimental
with an average age
tactical training
group after a 7-month training
of 21 and an average
programme on
programme
accumulated
passing decision
experience of 8 years
making during real
games
Decision making and memory tests
Examine the impact of 97 primary school
were administered five times, pre
the IGCM and a
children from four
and post instruction, and three
traditional approach
classes of two
times during the instruction weeks
to teaching basketball
primary schools.
Classes were
randomly assigned to
either IGCM or
traditional teaching
conditions

Fry et al.,
2010

Alarcon
et al.,
2009

Tallir et al.,
2003

Games
Competency
Approach

Tactical
Decision
Making

Invasion Games
Competency
Model

Quantitative analysis of video


recorded performances

Six university students


rated low to
moderate soccer
playing ability

Transfer of learning
from play practices
to game play in
soccer

Holt et al.,
2006

Data source

Participants and setting

Play Practice

Focus

Author/s

Study

Table 2 (continued)

 When players performed above 70% appropriate


responses in practice performance, games improved.
The rationale for preceding 3v2 practice with a 2v1
was not supported by the findings
 With regard to lower ability participants, if the
underlying skills were not initially present in the
performers repertoire, then play practice was not
sufficient to improve performance in practice, or to
make the skills effective in games (p. 114).
 Majority of students reported heightened interest
and engagement with learning
 Some children were not ready to increase their
understanding and engagement in problem solving
and decision-making tasks that develop game sense
 Between the pre test and the post test the number
of times that there were two simultaneous team
actions (movements on both sides of the player with
the ball) in support of the player with the ball that
favoured the pass increased (5% to 73.6% of
occasions)
 The more efficient acquisition of decision-making
knowledge in the ICGM condition
 Better retention scores of the pupils in the traditional condition

Findings

56

European Physical Education Review 20(1)

focus on this area of research as it is a separate line of inquiry to the perspective of the practitioner
pursued in this paper.
The historical overview earlier in this paper engaged with the first categories of papers. The
discussion to follow will include an analysis of this history of TGfU and substantially engage with the
results of the third type of publication, the data driven research. It is always difficult to determine
when to stop searching and how many articles to include in a review (Wallhead and OSullivan,
2005). Two parameters defined the boundaries of the search and subsequently the analysis and substantive discussion later in this paper: Firstly, the issue of how many publications to consider for the
review. The peer-reviewed data-based articles were limited to teacher and sport coaches enactment
of TGfU pedagogy and students experiences of this enactment. Non-empirical articles that did not
introduce new questions or directions for TGfU were not included in the review. Secondly, the
review did not consider research of pre-service teachers experiences of learning to teach using a
TGfU approach as it was felt that although related, this is a separate area of inquiry to the one pursued
in this paper.
Data driven research. Table 2 summarises the empirical-scientific research as it applies to TGfU and
its variations for the teaching of games and sport. It shows a variety of research practices are
engaged in the exploration of the assertions for TGfU pedagogy and student learning outcomes.
The information contained in Table 2 will be considered in the discussion.

Results and discussion


Proliferation of TGfU
The proliferation of the TGfU and its subsequent iterations suggests that practitioners and
researchers across various countries see potential in the approach for enhanced student learning
and engagement in games and sport teaching. This suggests its potential as a pedagogical model
through which to achieve the game skill development, both tactical and motor development,
content standards of curricula. In Australia, the potential of Game Sense as a sport pedagogy is
recognised in the Play for Life philosophy and pedagogy of the Australian Sports Commission
(Schembri, 2005) and within coach education (Australian Sports Commission, 1999).
While most of theoretical descriptions and pedagogical descriptions of the TGfU interpretations reviewed remained grounded in the demonstration of game play behaviours, central to
the reason for being of all TGfU versions is positioning game understanding as a valued part of
skill learning. Also central is the notion that game skill is best developed in circumstances that
most closely represent the situations in which the skills will be used (Thorpe and Bunker, 2010).
Game Sense provided something of a hook for PE teachers to hang on to as the vision of the
outcome of teaching for understanding, but the nature of understanding remains theoretically
blurred within TGfU and its subsequent iterations. This omission was initially addressed by theorising TGfU as a form of social constructivism, commonly referred to in the literature as situated
learning (Dyson et al., 2004; Griffin et al., 2005; Kirk et al., 2000; Kirk and MacPhail, 2002;
Penney, 2003). However, constructivism is a collective term for two types of constructivist
learning theory social constructivism and cognitive constructivism. The construction of understanding, as a product of cognition, is in many ways unique to the individual who experiences the
world. Cognitive constructivism, with its emphasis on mental models or schemas created and
refined by experience (Eggen and Kauchak, 2006), would also seem applicable to the whole notion
56
Downloaded from epe.sagepub.com by guest on January 19, 2015

Stolz and Pill

57

of understanding as defined in TGfU literature. This aspect of understanding is highlighted by


Wiggins (1998).
According to Wiggins (1998), teaching for understanding is substantially about a shift in the
paradigm of instruction from memorising and practising to one of thinking and acting flexibly with
deep conceptual and procedural knowledge in new and novel situations. The various TGfU
approaches certainly advocate for this type of shift. What none of the nuanced versions of TGfU
address substantially, and what is largely absent from the data driven research (Table 2) is what is
generally acknowledged as the goal of understanding; that is, deep engagement with knowledge,
and the individual intellectual models that are subsequently refined to enable more flexible and
adaptive behaviour (Perkins, 1993a, 1993b; Perkins and Blythe, 1994; Wiske, 1998). As Richard
and Wallian (2005) noted, Constructivism asks for students to engage in activities that require
higher level of thinking and reflective processes. Ultimately, students must demonstrate their
understanding by applying the new knowledge in new situations (p. 21). While the data-driven
TGfU research initially focussed on a tactical vs. technical theme, and later a practitionerreferenced methodology (see for example Table 2), what is missing is research focussed on student
demonstration of higher level of thinking and the application of new knowledge in new situations.
Research consideration of the nature of TGfU game appreciation and understanding as expressions of cognitive flexibility and creativity is required to substantiate claims made about TGfU for
games and sport learning. Further, research into the nature of levels of understanding, recognising
that understanding develops by degrees through the acquisition of a sequence of progressively more
complex and encompassing concepts (Newton, 2000), may assist a more concrete conceptualisation
of TGfU in practice. This is especially so for clarifying the nature of game understanding and
appreciation, central to the distinctiveness of TGfU and its nuanced variations.
From the historical account of TGfUs global development it can be seen that differences
between each approach are frequently so subtle that demarcation of these distinctions may not
serve any practical pedagogical purpose. What can be suggested from a meta-analysis of the theoretical writing covered in the literature review is that each interpretation of TGfU has added to the
original proposition in areas that were conceptually or theoretical absent or under represented. For
example, the Tactical Games approach (Mitchell et al., 2006) explains how to differentiate teaching for understanding at different levels of sport development, something missing from the original
TGfU proposition (Bunker and Thorpe, 1982). The Tactical Games approach also introduced the
GPAI as a tool to assess game sense as both on-the-ball and off-the-ball behaviour, addressing the
area of holistic game play assessment.
The Game Sense approach has developed into a differentiated expression of games teaching,
from fundamental sport skill development through to situational game play and play practices
focussed on specific game outcomes. Game Sense has also provided an attempted explanation of
what game understanding means. From a sport pedagogy perspective, the Game Sense proposition
is not tactical before technical, but tactical and technical accentuated in a game-centred learning
context that should typify sport games pedagogy. The emergence of a dynamic motor skill theory,
where games are viewed as complex adaptive systems defined by constraints (Davids et al., 2005;
Renshaw et al., 2010) within which game behaviours arise, suggests that representative situations
that link information with movement are best for skill learning, which is synonymous with den
Duyns (1997) explanation of Game Sense as a sport pedagogy (refer to Figure 2). Perhaps, therefore, there is some substance to Almonds (2010) suggestion that Game Sense is an important
dimension of a revised TGfU and Thorpes explanation that Game Sense goes further than the original TGfU, and does not hide the philosophy of TGfU behind a simple description of lesson
57
Downloaded from epe.sagepub.com by guest on January 19, 2015

58

European Physical Education Review 20(1)

structure (Thorpe, 2006). However, as with other nuanced interpretations of TGfU, the challenge
remains to demonstrate the efficacy of Game Sense as sport games pedagogy (Table 2).
Dynamic systems theory constraints-led practice contains similar propositions to Game Sense.
It has been identified as non-linear pedagogy to distinguish it from an information-processing
model of skill learning and linear progressive part pedagogy. The idea of a non-linear pedagogy
has been linked to TGfU, providing the theoretical skill acquisition muscle missing in TGfU theoretical literature (Chow et al., 2007; Davids et al., 2005; Renshaw et al., 2010). However, as Figure 3 illustrates, TGfU is cyclical in nature; however, it remains linear in that it is represented as a
progressive 1-to-6 six-step cycle. Similarly, the Tactical Games approach is represented as a cycle,
simplifying the six-step TGfU cycle (Figure 3) to a 1-to-3 three-step cycle (Mitchell et al., 2006)
(Figure 1). Bunker and Thorpe (1986) even stressed that the sequential aspects of the TGfU model
are critical (1986: 10). This is unlike the definition of Game Sense (Figure 2), which links knowing
what to do with the ability to put that knowledge into action as skilled performance, and therefore
appears more synonymous with the iterative nature of the dynamics of non-linear pedagogy.
The data reviewed in Table 2 illustrate that the concepts of game literacy (Mandigo and Holt,
2004) and game intelligence (McCormick, 2009; Wein 2001) are useful to explain the aims of a
TGfU approach and to further define Game Sense. Some of these key characteristic descriptors in
Game Sense and game intelligence claim to develop student game performance are as follows:







knowledge and understanding of how to read patterns of play


possession of technical and tactical skills
ability to set up appropriate, creative, flexible and adaptive responses when necessary
understand game rules and its impacts on game play
know how to create structural and tactical similarities and differences between games
experience positive motivational states in games through developed confidence in coordination and control of movement responses
 opportunity to reflect on the application of specialised skills in games and suggest strategies
for improvement
Whether the TGfU nuances across the iterations described in the earlier historical overview are
substantial enough to make a significant difference to the way teachers approach games and sport
teaching is debatable, and it may simply be a case of same mountain different path (Mitchell,
2005). What is evidenced, however, is that there emerged competing gamesport for understanding
discourses in the literature, each vying for dominance and seeking research validation (Table 2),
but essentially promoting the same curriculum substance. This pegging of the ground for academic work may be sensible from a research context; however, whether the nuanced boundaries
hinder or help the distribution of TGfU pedagogy to PE teachers for enhanced student games and
sport learning requires investigation. Almond (2010) alluded to this in his summation that TGfU
has not been as readily accepted by teachers as it has by academics.
Teachers may not see TGfU pedagogy as distinctive, and the pedagogy is simply part of the
repertoire of necessary pedagogical practice (Pill, 2011a). The review of the theoretical literature
also revealed small-sided games, game modifications to shape and focus learning, the use of questions to develop game appreciation and understanding of a target concept, and game categories are
not of themselves unique to a TGfU approach. For example, described earlier in the paper was
Mosstons 1960s explanation of the application of instructional strategies to achieve specific learning objectives in his spectrum of teaching approaches (Mosston and Ashworth, 2002). Also noted
58
Downloaded from epe.sagepub.com by guest on January 19, 2015

Stolz and Pill

59

earlier, games frameworks with similar pedagogical intentions to TGfU had been espoused but did
not capture attention and subsequent interest in the way that TGfU did (Findlay, 1982; Mauldon
and Redfern. 1969). If there is uniqueness to TGfU it may be one of emphasis and the associated
discourse, which reframes games and sport teaching from a behaviourist teacher-centred framework defined by a focus on direct teaching to a constructivist learner-centre framework defined
by the foregrounding of cognition in the development of playing competency (Light and Fawns,
2003). However, as Rink (2010: 38) suggested, TGfU doesnt have a monopoly on constructivism. TGfUs reframing of motor skill-to-game teaching (or sport-as-techniques) (Kirk,
2010) through closed-to-open progressive part pedagogy to game-appreciation-to-motor skill
teaching appears to be the pedagogical distinctiveness of the original TGfU proposition.
From a pedagogical perspective, the distinctiveness of TGfU and many of its nuanced interpretations may only substantially lie in this flipped classroom. The term flipped is used to give
effect to the essential difference between a traditional PE method (Metzler, 2011) and TGfU
approach. Where the traditional PE method progressed by drill and emphasis on direct teaching to a
game, a TGfU approach starts with the game as its organisational and instructional centre (Metzler,
2011). A TGfU lesson progresses from the game to other instructional strategies to further develop
aspects of play, and then these enhancements are anticipated in the next engagement with game
play. TGfU iterations can then be understood as a shift in praxis from traditional linear motor
learning theories to an understanding that reflects complexity and systems theory (Davids et al.,
2005, Renshaw et al., 2010).

Proceed with caution: divergent approaches and contradictory conclusions


Kirk and MacPhail (2002), in discussing TGfU research, make the point that from around the 1980s
onwards TGfU began to be scrutinized empirically by researchers in the form of comparing TGfU
either with a technique or tactical approach (See for example Table 2: Mitchell and Oslin, 1999;
Mitchell et al., 1995; Turner and Martinek, 1999). Rink et al. (1996a) noted from their review of six
studies (Gabriele and Maxwell, 1995; Griffin et al., 1995; McPherson, 1991, 1992; McPherson and
French, 1991; Mitchell et al., 1995; Turner and Martinek, 1992, 1995) done in the area of pedagogical research appear to be conflicting in parts due to the differences in research design. They
argued that part of the reason for the inconclusive support for TGfU over either technique or tactical
approaches to teaching was primarily due to the difficulties in comparing different sports chosen for
the research, the age of the participants, the length of time, the type of teaching paradigm or model
adopted in the research, the variables chosen to measure and how they were measured (Rink et al,
1996a). Studies from Table 2 that have a specific empirical-scientific focus (like Alarcon et al., 2009;
Broek et al., 2011; French, et al., 1996; Harrison et al., 2004; Harvey, 2003; Harvey et al., 2009,
2010; Holt et al., 2006; Jones and Farrow, 1999; Martin, 2004; Turner and Martinek, 1999) would
appear to reinforce Rink et al.s (1996a) earlier claims surrounding conflicting findings due to
research design. It appears little has changed in TGfU research since Rink et al. (1996a) made those
claims. For instance, Turner and Martinek (1999) compare TGfU with a technique approach and a
control group and found that there was no significant difference between these groups. More telling
was the claim by one study (Holt et al., 2006) that unless there was an underlying skill level proficiency then the Play Practice approach (Launder, 2001) was not sufficient to improve game performance. The meta-analysis of the data driven research (Table 2) illustrates the contradictory nature of
the claims on behalf of a TGfU approach.
59
Downloaded from epe.sagepub.com by guest on January 19, 2015

60

European Physical Education Review 20(1)

One thing that seems to be consistent in each study is the differences surrounding what learning is
being measured. The range of instruments used in each study, from pre and post skill tests, observations
of game play, decision-making capacity (and so on) emphasise that individual performance in game
situations is a central feature in their notions of learning that each research is trying to capture.
It is important to note that it is difficult to synthesis all of the studies summarised in Table 2
because of the variation in design. The change in research emphasis over time from tactical vs.
technical teaching to practitioner referenced research is also telling. The difficulty of synthesis of
early TGfU research suggested was noted by Rink et al. (1996a). This research early in the life of
TGfU concluded that research investigating the merits of TGfU and other similar approaches to
teaching games and sport in PE was prone to ambiguity because the variables analysed were multiple and not standardised, leading to contradictory results that were unreliable. More telling was
Rink et al.,s (1996b) controversial claim that it was possible for students to pick up tactics without
direct instruction or teaching within the traditional or skill-based approach, which contradicts the
TGfU idea that skills can be acquired through indirect (Hopper and Kruisselbrink, 2001; Mcfadyen
and Bailey, 2002; Rink, 2010) teaching methods. Since Rinks claims, Game Sense (1997), Play
Practice (2001) and the Tactical Game Approach (1997) emerged as well articulated variations of
the pedagogical intention to teach games or sport for understanding. However, as the data summarised in Table 2 indicate, the challenge of meta-analysis of TGfU research remains due to the
methodological variation in TGfU research.
Rink controversially claimed that there does not seem to be any affective advantage to any of the
approaches when effective teachers are used (Rink et al., 1996b: 493). Also telling is the claim made
by Rink (2001) that most of the research surrounding teaching and learning in PE seems to be framed
around establishing direct links between what a teacher does and question begging assumptions
about how students learn. Hence why Rink (2010: 40 ff) cautions us that simplistic and linear
models cannot capture and explain complex, situational and sometimes chaotic nature of movement settings due to the influence of constraints on student performance that include all physical,
environmental and task characteristics. Certainly the second and third constraints are arguably the
most important to PE practitioners due to the direct control they can exercise over these. Much of the
initial data driven research (see for example Table 2) uses different study designs in order to determine which task constraints can empower learning, such as comparing tactical and/or technique
approaches against control groups. There was some evidence that students from a tactical teaching
focus group had enhanced game understanding compared with control and skill focussed groups, but
as the data in Table 2 showed the results are not consistent across all studies.
The alleged failure of the traditional and/or the need for the TGfU approach may arguably have
more to do with the poor quality of games and sport teaching employed in PE (Alexander and
Luckman, 2001; Locke, 1992; Siedentop, 1994) and school PE that is irrelevant or boring for
adolescents (Ennis, 1999; McKenzie et al., 1994; Rikard and Banville, 2006; Smith and Parr, 2007;
Tinning and Fitzclarence, 1992). Decisions about which approach to adopt are possibly more likely
to be philosophical (Green, 1998, 2000, 2002; McMorris, 1998) and not a choice based on empiricalscientific evidence, especially where that is inconclusive and the method narrative confused by competing nuanced interpretations of essentially the same curriculum and pedagogical emphasis.
The data driven TGfU research (Table 2) indicates that teachers struggle with TGfU pedagogical intentions and the pedagogical content knowledge required of a TGfU approach. The limits of
teachers conceptual understanding of sport constrains teachers enactment of TGfU and confidence
with the approach (Brooker et al., 2000), and for most of the teachers involved in the research, the
TGfU variation used was new or unfamiliar to them. A TGfU approach requires considerable
60
Downloaded from epe.sagepub.com by guest on January 19, 2015

Stolz and Pill

61

pedagogical skill . . . and teaching with this method is more of a challenge (Turner, 2005:73). PE
teachers are generally more experienced with a sport-as-techniques (Kirk, 2010) approach, and
after three decades of TGfU research the TGfU movement (Butler and Griffin, 2010: 4) can only
claim that teachers value certain aspects of the public theories defined in the textbooks and formal
teacher preparation curricula and develop unique interpretations of the models representative of
their students needs, their personal beliefs about sport and games, and their teaching contexts
(Butler and Griffin, 2010: 9). The problem as we see it has more to do with the notion that good
pedagogical practice in PE may seem like the kind of activities that may be the product of
empirical-scientific generalisations to which much of this research aspires; however, much of this
work is simply unable to capture the constantly changing nuances of real-life teaching engagement. We do not deny that practitioners may have something to learn from empirical-scientific or
pedagogical research, but the question as we see it is has more to do with determining whether this
type of research does, or ever could, present us with a picture of pedagogy in PE which is complete
such that there could no longer be any meaningful question outside this picture. The question posed
is not asked out of hostility towards empirical-scientific research. Far from it; in fact, it is the nature
of pedagogy itself which forces us to ask this question.
If teachers and researchers can take little of pedagogical value from the scientific-empirical
research (Table 2) the general advice would seem to suggest a flexible approach to teaching in games
and sport in PE, which could vary from TGfU and other approaches as long as the approach adopted is
conducive to achieving the nominated learning objective, rather than a single overriding approach or
style (Capel, 2000). Indeed, Bunker and Thorpe (1982) did not rule in or out a style or instructional
strategy in achieving the objective of game competency. The overriding ideal of practice being game
centred directs teacher objectives to teach for understanding and student engagement, as the game
first intention works with student motivation in PE: that is, to play (Bunker and Thorpe, 1982). The
historical literature review demonstrated that TGfU instinctively makes sense as simply good pedagogy (Hopper et al., 2009) to many academics. However, if TGfU is to be pedestaled as a preferred
pedagogy for performance, participation and enjoyment (Light, 2013) then re-articulation of the
cycle of learning (Figure 1) to be non-linear, reflective of dynamic constraints-led practice, and a more
meaningful representation of what it means to understand games and sport is necessary. To this end,
PE pedagogues and sport skill acquisition researchers should be working more closely together to find
the common ground in ideas and their expression.

From linear to non-linear theories of games teaching in PE


It has been argued elsewhere (Rink, 2010; Stolz and Pill, 2012) that a problem with the traditional
approach to teaching games and sport in PE is an overemphasis on the psychomotor domain to the
detriment of the cognitive and affective domains of learning. The TGfU approach is an attempt to
rebalance the disproportionate emphasis on the psychomotor domain because it focusses on
developing thinking players (den Duyn, 1997) who can apply their learning in a variety of
situations. For instance, the problem with teaching a volleyball forearm pass in isolation is that it
does not automatically equate with the contextual application of the pass to set up an attack or a
successful solution to a game problem that arises in complex environments in which movement
patterns are executed. In fact, the traditional approach teaches it out of context (Kirk, 2010;
OConnor, 2006; Rovegno, 1995), and herein lies most of the nuanced differences that exist
between the traditional and TGfU approaches.
61
Downloaded from epe.sagepub.com by guest on January 19, 2015

62

European Physical Education Review 20(1)

There is much more to playing games and sports than learning a motor skill in isolation (Chow
et al., 2007; Davids et al., 2005; Renshaw et al., 2010). The idea that one must learn and master a
skill first in simple environments before playing a game in some type of linear fashion is problematic because it decontextualises the skill into something that, for the learner, may have no
connection with sporting or game environments, and in essence teaches these movements outside
of any real meaning. A TGfU approach is more purposefully directed toward educating the learner
within the context in which the technique is performed, whereas the traditional approach is more
interested in the performance or execution of technique.
The research findings summarised in Table 2 illustrate that it is problematic to make definitive
statements about the efficacy of a TGfU approach because the rhetorical generalisations of the type
found in the literature in the earlier historical overview of TGfU can be of little or no use to practitioners. They simply have no relevance to the natural setting of each practitioner (Brooker et al.,
2000). This point has been made quite strongly by Elliott (1989), who argued that pedagogical and
teacher expertise is context specific, and so the generalities of educational research which ignore
contextual features thereby have little or no use to practitioners. This was further reinforced by
Nuthall (2004), who argued that reducing the teachinglearning process to generalisations leaves
little to no relevance to the professional knowledge of the practitioner. For instance, what may work
in one class or with one particular student does not mean that it will necessarily equate to it working
in other contexts, different curriculum content, different kinds of students and so on.
In the context of games teaching in PE, it is not too hard to see how views of learning may be
misconstrued in terms of an acquisition of a skill or based on some behavioural analysis of a
movement event. The problem as we see it is that pedagogy is often linked to a basically scientific
conception of learning and thereby presumed available to empirical-scientific testing of the effectiveness of models of pedagogical practice. One of the core issues with this is that such research strives to
be universal for all practitioners, and in doing so gives rise to abstraction or generalisation that can
have little or no application to the reality of what goes on within classroom practice. Hence why a
shift from a scientific-technical perception of research in action as technical vs. tactical in the 1990s
begins to be repositioned to practitioner referenced research in the 2000s, in what Brooker et al.,
(2000) described as research occurring in the naturalistic setting of the PE teaching context.

Some future considerations and concluding comments


According to Carr (1986, 2003), if a child can be encouraged in the right direction to explore their
natural innate curiosity and interest with respect to the world then the student will learn irrespective
what teaching strategy or method is adopted. This means that the pedagogical emphasis first needs
to be on bringing the learner to see the value and significance of what is being offered to them to
learn. Questions surrounding direct or indirect teaching strategies, whether to start with teaching
technique followed by tactical decision making (or vice versa) later and so on, must always remain
subservient to bringing the learner to see the value and significance of what is being offered to
them to learn. TGfUs central emphasis on appreciating the game may be its most relevant proposition for learner engagement, which can be addressed through a naturalistic setting (Brooker
et al., 2000) and situated learning (Kirk and Macdonald, 1998; Kirk and MacPhail, 2002), and
peripheral participation within communities of practice (Kirk and Kinchin, 2003), which are
more authentic and meaningful experiences for students, as well as building on students prior
knowledge (Dodds et al., 2001) that has the potential to transform games and sport in PE.
62
Downloaded from epe.sagepub.com by guest on January 19, 2015

Stolz and Pill

63

Competing descriptions of TGfU within the PE literature and its applications are problematic to the
physical educator within the school environment because teacher practitioners do not necessarily see
or want to see the same boundaries between pedagogical models as researchers do as theory generators. Subsequently, if TGfU is to have any relevance for teacher practitioners of PE, more emphasis
needs to be placed on the normative characteristics of pedagogy that drives this practice of teaching for
understanding within curricula. Future research should continue a practice-referenced approach (Kirk,
2005), but extend past the end of single units of work to include longitudinal data collection aimed at
the objective of achieving student understanding, or perhaps the objective as game sense.
The literature review and discussion leads to four conclusions. First, there is an implied division
between researcher as theory generator and teacher practitioner as theory applier. Second, competing
descriptions of TGfU in PE literature complicate understanding of the approach and its practical
implementation. Third, the application of TGfU and its nuanced versions, such as the Tactical Games
approach (Mitchell et al., 2006), are problematic to the teacher practitioner within school contexts
because theory guides the means in which to achieve the ends. Unless there is a clear explanation of the
nature of the ends themselves there is no theory applier, no organiser to regulate the pedagogical practice.
Fourth, perhaps this is where the original description of Game Sense as observable game intelligence
leads the TGfU discourse for an answer to the nature of the end purpose, or objective of teaching for
understanding Game Sense (Charlesworth, 1993; den Duyn, 1997; Thorpe and West, 1969).
The argument that the scientific conception of learning that is available to empirical-scientific
testing of the effectiveness of various pedagogical methods is problematic and ill conceived, and
seems to originate in the notion that since PE activities are overt then they are also measurable (Metzler, 1986), has also been tested in this paper. The shift from empirical-scientific research to
practitioner-referenced research is in tune with what Bishop (1992) described as the pedagogue tradition concerned with exploring classroom practicalities, the curriculum and teachers responses to
the curriculum as it naturally occurs. This is because good educational practice evades conventional
empirical-scientific research and cannot capture the complex nature of teacher deliberations in a
codified way. For instance, there are some true educational generalisations in pedagogy, such as
never face the board when talking to the class; however, these do not need statistical support to
confirm or disprove such a statement. The research paradigm difficulty has more to do with the normative characteristics of education and teaching practice and the incompatible nature of the
empirical-scientific approach which attempts to make causal connections and predictions. Consequently, some educational questions are simply irresolvable by empirical-scientific means, may not
be normatively resolvable and are a matter for philosophical argument (Carr, 2001).
The empirical-scientific research as it applies to TGfU and its variations for the teaching of games and
sport reviewed for this paper indicated that the central tenet of TGfU teaching for understanding
remains unresolved. Investigating the development and demonstration of performance of understanding
as the active use of knowledge (Perkins, 1992) is suggested. The implications and student outcomes of a
PE, sport and games curriculum that is thought demanding, taking students beyond what they already
know by building up performances of understanding through generative knowledge (Perkins, 1992,
1993a, 1993b), should be a future pedagogical research agenda so that pedagogy in PE again becomes
a central practical issue of a sport and games teaching in PE for understanding. This is suggested to bridge
the disparity between researcher as theory generator and teacher practitioner as theory applier.
Acknowledgements
We would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions to improve
this paper.
63
Downloaded from epe.sagepub.com by guest on January 19, 2015

64

European Physical Education Review 20(1)

References
Alarcon F, Cardenas D, Miranda MT, et al. (2009) Effect of a training program on the improvement of basketball players decision making. Revista de Psicologia del Deporte 18: 403407.
Alexander K and Luckman J (2001) Australian teachers perceptions and uses of the sport education curriculum model. European Physical Education Review 7: 243267.
Alison S and Thorpe R (1997) Comparison of the effectiveness of two approaches to teaching games within
PE. A skills approach verses a games for understanding approach. British Journal of Physical Education
28(3): 913.
Almond L (2010) Forward: Revisiting the TGfU brand. In: Butler J and Griffin L (eds) More Teaching Games
for Understanding: Moving Globally. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, pp. vii-x.
Austin B, Haynes J and Miller J (2004) Using a game sense approach for improving fundamental motor skills.
Paper presented at: The Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE) Conference,
Melbourne, Victoria.
Australian Sports Commission (1999a) Game Sense cards. Canberra, ACT: Australian Sports Commission.
Australian Sports Commission (1999) National Coaching Accreditation Scheme: Level 2 Coaching Principles. Canberra, ACT: Australian Sports Commission.
Australian Sports Commission (2005) Active After Schools Community Playing for Life Coaches Kit.
Canberra, ACT: Australian Sports Commission.
Balakrishnan M, Rengasamy S and Aman MS (2011) Teaching game for understanding in physical education:
A theoretical framework and implication. ATIKAN 1(2): 201214.
Bell T (2003) The PlaySmart programme: Thinking through physical education. Paper presented at: The
Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE) Conference, Auckland, New Zealand.
Berkowitz R (1996) A practitioners journey: From skill to tactics. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation
and Dance 67(4): 4445.
Bishop A (1992) International perspectives on research in mathematics education. In: Grouws D (ed) Handbook of Research on Mathematics Teaching and Learning. New York, NY: MacMillan Publishing
Company, pp. 710723
Bohler H (2009) Sixth-grade students, tactical understanding and decision making in a TGM volleyball unit.
In: Hopper T, Butler J and Story B (eds) TGfU . . . Simple Good Pedagogy: Understanding a Complex
Challenge. Canada: Physical and Heath Education, pp. 8799.
Breed R and Spittle M (2011) Developing Game Sense through Tactical Learning: A Resource for Teachers
and Coaches. Port Melbourne, Victoria: Cambridge University Press.
Broek G, Boen F, Claessens M, et al. (2011) Comparison of three instructional approaches to enhance tactical
knowledge in volleyball among university students. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education 30:
375392.
Brooker R, Kirk D, Braiuka S, et al. (2000) Implementing a game sense approach to teaching junior high
school basketball in naturalistic setting. European Physical Education Review 6(1): 726.
Bunker D and Thorpe R (1982) A model for the teaching of games in secondary schools. Bulletin of Physical
Education 18(1): 58.
Bunker D and Thorpe R (1983) Games teaching revisited. Bulletin of Physical Education, Themed Edition 19(1).
Bunker D and Thorpe R (1986) The curriculum model. In: Thorpe R, Bunker D and Almond L (eds) Rethinking Games Teaching. Loughborough, UK: Loughborough University of Technology, pp. 710.
Butler J (1996) Teacher responses to teaching games for understanding. Journal of Physical Education,
Recreation and Dance 67(9): 1720.
Butler J and Griffin L (2010) Introduction. In: Griffin L and Butler J (eds) Teaching Games for Understanding: Theory Research and Practice. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, pp. 314.
Butler J and McCahan B (2005) Teaching games for understanding as a curriculum model. In: Griffin L and
Butler J (eds) Teaching Games for Understanding: Theory Research and Practice. Champaign, IL: Human
Kinetics, pp. 3354.

64
Downloaded from epe.sagepub.com by guest on January 19, 2015

Stolz and Pill

65

Capel S (2000) Approaches to teaching games. In: Capel S and Piotrowski S (eds) Issues in Physical Education. London: Routledge Falmer, pp. 8198.
Carr D (1986) Education, professionalism and theories of teaching. Journal of Philosophy of Education 20(1):
113121.
Carr D (2001) Educational philosophy, theory and research: A psychiatric autobiography. Journal of Philosophy of Education 35(3): 461476.
Carr D (2003) Making Sense of Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy and Theory of Education and
Teaching. London: Routledge.
Chandler T and Mitchell S (1990) Reflections on models of games education. Journal of Physical Education,
Recreation and Dance 61(6): 1921.
Charlesworth R (1993) Discussion topic: Designer games. Paper presented at: The Hockey Level 3 National
Coaching Accreditation Scheme (NCAS) Conference, Canberra, ACT: Australia.
Charlesworth R (1994) Designer games. Sport Coach 17(4): 3033.
Chen S and Light R (2006) I thought Id hate cricket but I love it! Year 6 students responses to Game Sense
pedagogy. Change: Transformations in Education 9(1): 4958.
Chow JY, Davids K, Button C, et al. (2007) The role of non linear pedagogy in physical education. Review of
Educational Research 77(3): 251278.
Cote J, Baker J and Abernethy B (2003) From play to practice: A developmental framework for the acquisition of expertise in team sports. In: Starkes J and Ericsson KA (eds) Expert Performance in Sports:
Advances in Research on Sport Expertise. Champaign. IL: Human Kinetics, pp. 89110.
Cruz A (2004) Teachers and students perception of teaching game for understanding approach in physical
education lessons. Journal of Physical Education and Recreation 10(2): 5766.
Davids K, Araujo D and Shuttleworth R (2005) Applications of dynamical systems theory to football. Available
at: http://74.125.155.132/scholar?qcache:WOWBpGpV5coJ:scholar.google.com/&hlen&as_sdt2000
(accessed 19 November 2011).
den Duyn N (1996) Why it makes sense to play games. Sports Coach (Spring): 69.
den Duyn N (1997) Game Sense Developing Thinking Players Workbook. Canberra, ACT: Australian Sports
Commission.
Dodds P, Griffin L and Placek J (2001) Chapter 2. A selected review of the literature on development of
learners domain-specific knowledge. Journal of teaching in Physical Education [Monograph] 20:
301313.
Dyson B, Griffin L and Hastie P (2004) Sport education, tactical games, and cooperative learning: Theoretical
and pedagogical considerations. Quest 56: 226240.
Eggen P and Kauchak D (2006) Strategies and Models for Teachers: Teaching Content and Thinking Skills.
Boston, MA: Pearson Education.
Elliott J (1989) Educational theory and the professional learning of teachers: An overview. Cambridge
Journal of Education 19(1): 81101.
Ellis M (1983) Similarities and differences in games: A system for classification. Paper presented at: The
Internal Association for Physical Education in Higher Education Conference, Rome, Italy.
Ennis C (1999) Creating a culturally relevant curriculum for disengaged girls. Sport, Education and Society
4(1): 3149.
Findlay S (1982) Games teaching The movement Analysis Approach. Artarmon: Physical Education Publication Cooperative.
Forrest GJ, Pearson PJ and Webb PI (2006) Teaching Games for Understanding (TGfU); a model for pre
service teachers. Fusion Down-under: 1st International Council for Health, Physical Education and
Recreation (ICHPER). Available at: http://ro.uow.edu.au/edupapers/328/ (accessed 19 November
2011).
French KE, Werner PH and Rink JE (1996) The effects of a 3-week unit of tactical, skill, or combined tactical
and skill instruction on badminton performance of ninth-grade students. Journal of Teaching in Physical
Education 15: 418438.

65
Downloaded from epe.sagepub.com by guest on January 19, 2015

66

European Physical Education Review 20(1)

French K, Werner P, Taylor K, et al. (1996) The effects of a 6 week unit of tactical, skill, or combined tactical
and skill instruction on badminton performance of ninth-grade students. Journal of Teaching in Physical
Education 15: 439463.
Fry J, Tan C, McNeil M, et al. (2010) Childrens perspectives on conceptual games teaching: A value adding
experience. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy 15(2): 139158.
Gabriele T and Maxwell T (1995) Direct versus indirect methods of squash instruction. Research Quarterly
for Exercise and Sport 66: A63.
Gray S and Sproule J (2011) Developing pupils performance in team invasion games. Physical Education
and Sport Pedagogy 16(1): 1532
Green K (1998) Philosophies, ideologies and the practice of physical education. Sport, Education and Society
3(2): 125143.
Green K (2000) Exploring the everyday philosophies of physical education teachers from a sociological perspective. Sport, Education and Society 9(2): 109129.
Green K (2002) Physical education teachers in their figurations: A sociological analysis of everyday philosophies. Sport, Education and Society 7(1): 6583.
Grehaigne J and Godbout P (1995) Tactical knowledge in team sports from a constructivist and cognitivist
perspective. Quest 47; 490505.
Grehaigne J and Godbout P (1997) Performance assessment in team sports. Journal of Teaching in Physical
Education 16: 500516.
Grehaigne J and Godbout P (1998) Formative assessment in team sports in a tactical approach context.
Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance 69(1): 4651.
Grehaigne JF, Richard JF and Griffin L (2005a) Teaching and Learning Team Sports and Games. New York,
NY: RoutledgeFalmer.
Grehaigne JF, Wallian N and Godbout P (2005b) Tactical-decision learning model and students practices.
Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy 10(3): 255269.
Griffin L, Brooker R and Patton K (2005) Working toward legitimacy: Two decades of teaching games for
understanding. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy 10(3): 213223.
Griffin L, Mitchell S and Oslin J (1997) Teaching Sport Concepts and Skills: A Tactical Games Approach.
Champaign IL: Human Kinetics.
Griffin L, Oslin J and Mitchell S (1995) An analysis of two instructional approaches to teaching net games.
Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport 66: A64.
Harrison J, Blakemore C, Richards R, et al. (2004) The effects of two instructional models tactical and skill
teaching on skill development and game play, knowledge, self-efficacy, and student perceptions in volleyball. The Physical Educator 61(4): 186199.
Harvey S (2003) Teaching games for understanding: A study of U19 college soccer players improvement in
game performance using the game performance assessment instrument. Paper presented at: The Sport and
Physical Education for Understanding Conference, University of Melbourne, Melbourne.
Harvey S, Cushion C, Wegis H, et al. (2010) Teaching games for understanding in American high-school soccer: A quantitative data analysis using the game performance assessment instrument. Physical Education
and Sport Pedagogy 15(1): 2954.
Harvey S, Wegis HM, Beets MW, et al. (2009) Changes in student perceptions of their involvement in a
multi-week TGfU unit of soccer: A pilot study. In: Hopper T, Butler J and Story B (eds)
TGfU . . . Simple good Pedagogy: Understanding a Complex Challenge. Canada: Physical and Heath
Education, pp. 101113.
Henninger M, Pagnano K, Patton K, et al. (2006) Novice volleyball players knowledge of games, strategies,
tactics and decision making in the context of game play. Journal of Physical Education New Zealand
39(1): 3446.
Hoffman SJ (1971) Traditional methodology: Prospects for change. Quest 23(1): 5157.
Holt J, Ward P and Wallhead T (2006) The transfer of learning from play practices to game play in young
adult soccer players. Physical Educations and Sport Pedagogy 11(2): 101118.

66
Downloaded from epe.sagepub.com by guest on January 19, 2015

Stolz and Pill

67

Hopper T (2003) Four Rs for tactical awareness: Applying game performance assessment in net/wall games.
Journal of Teaching Elementary Physical Education 4(2): 1621.
Hopper T (1998) Teaching games for understanding using progressive principles of play. CAPHERD/
ACSEPLD 64(3): 47.
Hopper T and Kruisselbrink D (2001) Teaching games for understanding: What does it look like and how does
it influence student skill acquisition and game performance? Available at http://web.uvic.ca/*thopper/
articles/JTPE/TGFU.htm (accessed 31 January 2013).
Hopper T, Butler J and Storey B (2009) TGfU . . . Simply Good Pedagogy: Understanding a Complex Challenge. PHE Canada.
Howarth K (2005) Introducing the teaching games for understanding model in teacher education programs.
In: Griffin L and Butler J (eds) Teaching Games for Understanding: Theory, Research and Practice.
Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, pp. 91106.
Howarth K and Walkuski J (2003) Teaching tactical concepts with preservice teachers. In: Butler J, Griffin L,
Lombardo B and Nastasi R (eds) Teaching Games For Understanding in Physical Education and Sport.
Reston, VA: NASPE, pp. 127138.
Jones C and Farrow D (1999) The transfer of strategic knowledge: A test of the games classification model.
Bulletin of Physical Education 9: 4145.
Jones R, Marshall S and Peters D (2010) Can we play games now? The intrinsic benefits of TGfU. European
Journal of Physical and Health Education 42(2): 5763.
Kidman L (2005) Athlete Centred Coaching. Christchurch, NZ: Innovative Communications.
Kirk D (2005) Future prospects or teaching games for understanding. In: Butler J and Griffin L (eds) Teaching
Games for Understanding: Theory, Research and Practice. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, pp. 213227.
Kirk D (2010) Physical Education Futures. Routledge: England.
Kirk D and Kinchin G (2003) Situated learning as a theoretical framework for sport education. European
Physical Education Review 9(3): 221235.
Kirk D and Macdonald D (1998) Situated learning in physical education. Journal of Teaching in Physical
Education 17: 376387.
Kirk D and MacPhail A (2002) Teaching game for understanding and situated learning: rethinking the
Bunker-Thorpe Model. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education 21: 177192.
Kirk D, Brooker R and Braiuka S (2000) Teaching games for understanding: A situated perspective on student learning. Paper presented at: The Annual meeting of the American Educational Research, Association, New Orleans.
Launder A (2001) Play Practice: The Games Approach to Teaching and Coaching Sport. Adelaide: Human
Kinetics.
Launder A and Piltz W (2006) Beyond Understanding to Skilful Play in Games, through Play Practice.
Journal of PE New Zealand 39(1): 4757.
Lee M-A and Ward P (2009) Generalization of tactics in tag rugby from practice to games in middle school
physical education. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy 14(2): 189207.
Light R (2003) Preservice primary teachers responses to TGfU in an Australian University: No room for heroes. In: Butler J, Griffin L, Lombardo B and Nastasi R (eds) Teaching Games for Understanding in physical education and sport. Oxon Hill: AAHPERD Publications, pp. 6777.
Light R (2013) Game sense: Pedagogy for performance, participation and enjoyment. London & New York:
Routledge.
Light R (2004) Coaches experiences of Game Sense: Opportunities and challenges. Physical Education and
Sport Pedagogy 9(2): 115131.
Light R and Georgakis S (2005) Can Game Sense make a difference? Australian pre-service primary school
teachers responses to Game Sense pedagogy in two teacher education programs. Paper presented at: The
Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE) Conference. Available at: http://www.aare.edu.
au/05pap/geo05240.pdf (accessed 10 May 2012).
Light R and Fawns R (2003) Knowing the game: Integrating speech and action through TGfU. Quest 55(2):
161176.

67
Downloaded from epe.sagepub.com by guest on January 19, 2015

68

European Physical Education Review 20(1)

Light R and Tan S (2006) Culture, embodied understandings and primary school teachers development of
TGfU in Singapore and Australia. European Physical Education Review 12(1): 100117.
Light R, Butler J and Patton KT (2005) A personal journey: TGfU teacher development in Australia and the
USA. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy 10(3): 241254.
Liu JK (2010) Asian-Pacific perspectives on analyzing TGfU. In: Butler J and Griffin L (eds) More Teaching
Games for Understanding: Moving Globally. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, pp. 1530.
Locke L (1992) Changing secondary school physical education. Quest 44: 361372.
Lopez LMG, Jordan ORC, Penney D, et al. (2009) The role of transfer in games teaching: Implications for the
development of the sports curriculum. European Physical Education Review 15(1): 4763.
Mandigo J and Holt N (2004) Reading the game: Introducing the notion of games literacy. Physical and
Health Education 70: 410.
Martin R (2004) An investigation of tactical transfer in invasion/territorial games. Research Quarterly for
Exercise and Sport 75(1: March Supplement): A73A74.
Mauldon E and Redfern H (1969) Games Teaching: A New Approach for the Primary School. London: MacDonald and Evans.
McCormick B (2009) Developing Basketball Intelligence. Lulu Marketplace.
Mcfadyen T and Bailey R (2002) Teaching Physical Education 11-18. New York, NY: Continuum.
Mckenzie T, Alcaraz J and Sallis J (1994) Assessing childrens liking for activity units in an elementary
school physical education curriculum. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education 13: 206215.
McMorris T (1998) Teaching Games for Understanding: Its contribution to the knowledge of skills acquisition from a motor learning perspective. European Journal of Physical Education 3: 6574.
McPherson S (1991) Changes in knowledge content and structure in adult beginner tennis: a longitudinal
study. Paper presented at: The annual meeting of the North American Society for the Psychology of Sport
and Physical Activity, Asilomar, California.
McPherson S (1992) Instructional infleucnes on longtitudinal development of beginners knowledge respresentation between points in tennis. Paper presented at: The Annual Meeting of the North American Society
for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
McPherson S and French K (1991) Changes in cognitive strategy and motor skill in tennis. Journal of Sport
and Exercise Psychology 13: 2641.
Metzler M (1986) Using systematic analysis to promote teaching skills in physical education. Journal of
Teacher Education 37(4): 2933.
Metzler M (2011) Instructional Models for Physical Education. Scottsdale, AZ: Holocomb Hathaway.
Mitchell S (2005) Different paths up the same mountain: Global perspectives on Teaching Games for Understanding. Keynote address presented at: The 3rd International Teaching Games for Understanding Conference, Hong Kong Institute of Education, Hong Kong.
Mitchell S and Oslin J (1999) An investigation of tactical transfer in net games. European Journal of Physical
Education 4: 162172.
Mitchell S, Griffin L and Oslin J (2006) Teaching sport concepts and skills: A tactical games approach.
Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Mitchell S, Oslin J and Griffin L (1995) An analysis of two instructional approaches to teaching games.
Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport 66(1: March Supplement): A65A66.
Mitchell S, Oslin J and Griffin L (2003) Sport Foundations for Elementary Physical Education. A Tactical
Games Approach. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Mosston M (1968) Problem solving A problem for physical educators. Paper presented at: The Annual
Meeting of New York City Association of Physical Education Teachers. Available at: http://www.
spectrumofteachingstyles.org/pdfs/literature/Mosston_1968_Problem_Solving.pdf (accessed 10 May
2012).
Mosston M (1981) Teaching Physical Education. Columbus, OH: Merrill.
Mosston M and Ashworth S (2002) Teaching Physical Education. San Francisco, CA: Pearson Education.
Newton D (2000) Teaching for Understanding: What it is and how to do it. London: Routledge Falmer.

68
Downloaded from epe.sagepub.com by guest on January 19, 2015

Stolz and Pill

69

Nuthall G (2004) Relating classroom teaching to student learning: A critical analysis of why research has
failed to bridge the theory-practice gap. Harvard Educational Review 74(3): 273306.
OConnor J (2006) Making sense of teaching skills, games and sports. In: Tinning R, McCuaig L and Hunter
L (eds) Teaching Health and Physical Education in Australian Schools. Sydney: Pearson Education Australia, pp. 192199.
Penny D (2003) Sport education and situated learning: Problematizing the potential. European Physical Education Review 9(3): 301308.
Perkins DN (1992) Smart Schools: From Training Memories to Educating Minds. New York, NY: The Free
Press.
Perkins DN (1993a) Teaching for understanding. American Educator 17(3): 2835.
Perkins DN (1993b) Teaching and learning for understanding. NJEA Review 67(2): 1018.
Perkins DN and Blythe T (1994) Putting understanding up front. Educational Leadership, 51(5): 47.
Pigott B (1982) A psychological basis for new trends in games teaching. Bulletin of Physical Education 18(1):
1722.
Pill S (2007) Play with Purpose. Adelaide: ACHPER Australia.
Pill S (2009) Preparing middle and secondary school pre service teachers to teach physical education through
a focus on Tactical Games pedagogy. Curriculum Perspectives 29(3): 2432.
Pill S (2010) Using tactical games. Sports Coach 31(1).
Pill S (2011a) Teacher engagement with teaching games for understanding-game sense in physical education.
Journal of Physical Education and Sport 11(2): 115123.
Pill S (2011b) Seizing the moment: Can game sense further inform sport teaching in Australian physical education? PHENex Journal 3(1): 115.
Piltz W (2002) Developing competent and confident players using a Play Practice methodology. Available
at: http://www.ausport.gov.au/fulltext/2002/achper/Piltz.pdf (accessed 10 May 2012).
Piltz W (2003) Teaching and Coaching Using a Play Practice Approach. In: Butler J, Griffin L, Lombardo B
and Nastasi R (eds) Teaching Games for Understanding in Physical Education and Sport. Oxon Hill:
AAHPERD Publications, 189200.
Renshaw I, Chow J, Davids K, et al. (2010) A constraints-led perspective to understanding skill acquisition
and game play: A basis for integration of motor learning theory and physical education praxis? Physical
Education & Sport Pedagogy 15(2): 117137.
Richard J-F and Wallian N (2005) Emphasizing student engagement in the construction of game performance.
In: Griffin L and Butler J (eds) Teaching Games for Understanding: Theory, Research and Practice.
Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, pp. 1932.
Rikard RE and Banville D (2006) High school attitudes about physical education. Sport, Education and Society 11(4): 385400.
Rink J (2001) Investigating the assumptions of pedagogy. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education 20:
112128.
Rink J (2010) TGfU celebrations and cautions. In: Butler J and Griffin L (eds) More Teaching Games for
Understanding: Moving Globally. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, pp. 3348.
Rink J, French KE and Graham K (1996b) Implications for practice and research. Journal of Teaching in
Physical Education 15: 490502.
Rink J, French KE and Tjeerdsma B (1996a) Foundations for the learning and instruction of sport and games.
Journal of Teaching in Physical Education 15: 399417.
Rovegno I (1995) Theoretical perspectives on knowledge and learning and a student teachers pedagogical
content knowledge of dividing and sequencing subject matter. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education
14: 284304.
Savelsbergh G, Davids K, van der Kamp J, et al. (2003) Development of Movement Co-ordination in Children: Applications in the Fields of Ergonomics, Health Sciences and Sport. New York, NY: Routledge.
Schembri G (2005) Active After School Communities: Playing for Life Coachs Guide. Canberra, ACT:
Australian Sports Commission.

69
Downloaded from epe.sagepub.com by guest on January 19, 2015

70

European Physical Education Review 20(1)

Shulman L (1987) Knowledge and teaching: Foundations of the new reform. Harvard Educational Review 57:
122.
Siedentop D (1994) Sport Education: Quality PE through Positive Sport Experiences. Champaign, IL:
Human Kinetics.
Smith A and Parr M (2007) Young peoples views on the nature and purposes of physical education: A sociological analysis. Sport, Education and Society, 12(1): 3758.
Stolz SA and Pill S (2012) Making sense of game sense. Active & Healthy Magazine 19(1): 58.
Sweeney M, Everitt A and Carifio J (2003) Teaching games for understanding: A paradigm shift for undergraduate students. In: Butler J, Griffin L, Lombardo B and Nastasi R (eds) Teaching Games for Understanding in Physical Education and Sport. Oxon Hill: AAHPERD Publishers, pp. 113122.
Tallir IB, Musch E, Valcke M, et al. (2005) Effects of two instructional approaches for basketball on decisionmaking and recognition ability. International Journal of Sport Psychology 36: 107126.
Tallir I, Musch E, Lenoir M, et al. (2003) Assessment of play in basketball. Paper presented at: The 2nd International Conference: Teaching Sport and Physical Education for Understanding, Melbourne, University
of Melbourne.
Tallir IB, Musch E, Lenoir M, et al. (2004) Assessment of game play in basketball. Paper presented at: The
2nd International Conference: Teaching Sport and Physical Education, Melbourne, University of
Melbourne.
Thorpe J and West C (1969) A test of game sense in badminton. Perceptual and Motor Skills 28: 159169.
Thorpe R (1997) We love the games, but when do we teach technique? Sports Coach 20(2): 45.
Thorpe R (2006) Rod Thorpe on teaching games for understanding. In: Kidman L (ed), Athlete-Centred
Coaching: Developing and Inspiring People. Christchurch, NZ: Innovative Print Communications Ltd,
pp. 229244.
Thorpe R (2012) Winston Churchill Memorial Trust. Available at: http://www.wcmt.org.uk/fellows-today/
rod-thorpe.html (accessed 30 July 2012).
Thorpe R and Bunker D (2010) Preface. In: Butler J and Griffin L (eds) More Teaching Games for Understanding: Moving Globally. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, pp. vii-xv.
Thorpe R, Bunker D and Almond L (1986) Rethinking Games Teaching. Loughborough, UK: Loughborough
University of Technology.
Thorpe R, Bunker D and Almond L (1984) Chapter 21: A change in focus for the teaching of games. In:
Pieron M and Graham G (eds) Sport Pedagogy. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, pp. 163169.
Tinning R and Fitzclarence L (1992) Postmodern youth culture and the crisis in Australian secondary school
physical education. Quest 44: 287303.
Townsend M, Jenkins J and Wallhead T (2009) Teacher progress and fourth-graders learning in the tactical
approach. Paper presented at: The AAHPERD National Convention and Exposition, Tampa, Florida.
Turner A (1996) Teachers perceptions of technical and tactical models of instruction. Research Quarterly for
Exercise and Sport (March Supplement): A90.
Turner A (2005) Teaching and learning games at the secondary level. In: Butler J and Griffin L (eds)
More Teaching Games for Understanding: Moving Globally. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, pp.
7190.
Turner A and Martinek T (1992) A comparative analysis of two models for teaching games: Technique
approach and game-centred (tactical focus) approach. International Journal of Physical Education 29:
1531.
Turner A and Martinek T (1995) An investigation into teaching games for understanding: effects on skill,
knowledge and game play. Paper presented at: The AERA Annual Meeting, San Francisco, California.
Turner A and Martinek T (1999) An investigation into teaching games for understanding: Effects on skill,
knowledge and game play. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport 70(3): 286296.
Turner A, Allison P and Pissanos B (2001) Constructing a concept of skillfulness in invasion games within a
games for understanding context. European Journal of Physical Education 6(1): 3854.
Wade A (1967) The F.A. Guide to Training and Coaching. London: Heinemann.

70
Downloaded from epe.sagepub.com by guest on January 19, 2015

Stolz and Pill

71

Wallhead T and Deglan D (2004) Effect of a tactical games approach on student motivation in physical education. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport 75(1: March Supplement): A83A84.
Wallhead T and OSullivan M (2005) Sport education: Physical education for the new millennium. Physical
Education and Sport Pedagogy 10(2): 181210.
Wein H (2001) Developing Youth Soccer Players: Coach Better with the Soccer Development Model. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Werner P, Thorpe R and Bunker D (1996) Teaching games for understanding: Evolution of a model. Journal
of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance 67(1): 2833.
Wiggins G (1998) Educative Assessment: Designing Assessments to Inform and Improve Student Performance. San Francisco, Ca: Jossey-Bass.
Wiske MS (1998) Teaching for Understanding. San Francisco, Ca: Jossey-Bass.

Author biographies
Steven Stolz is a Lecturer in the Faculty of Education at La Trobe University, Australia.
Shane Pill is a Senior Lecturer in Physical Education Studies at Flinders University, Australia.

71
Downloaded from epe.sagepub.com by guest on January 19, 2015