Statement of Research Interests - Dr Tim Hopper 2004

My research has focused on physical education teacher education, in particular conceptual approaches to teaching PE such as movement education and Teaching Games for Understanding (TGfU).   In addition, I have developed research projects examining teacher identity and teacher knowledge, with an interest in pedagogy and the content of school curriculum.  Theoretically I draw on social constructivist principles, in particular situated learning with a preferred research method of action research as informed by autobiographical, qualitative and quantitative data sources.

My research interests divide into three main areas: (1) Socialization in physical education teacher education, (2) School Integrated Teacher Education, and (3) Teaching games for understanding.

(1)   Socialization in PE teacher education has been a recurring focus of research from my dissertation research at the University of Alberta.  Drawing on two internal research grants from the University of Victoria I have pursued this line of inquiry using the repertory grid technique from personal construct psychology.  This research program examines the relationship between PE pre-service teachers experience of being coached and taught and their constructions of effective teaching in PE.  In particular, this research investigates how reflective approaches in teacher education programs can be developed to help pre-service teachers understand their own development as effective teachers of physical education for every child, not just the sport elite.

(2)   School Integrated Teacher Education (SITE) refers to the systematic incorporation of school experiences into the teaching and learning of core concepts within University courses.  I have pursued this line of inquiry through a SSHRC funded project entitled Contextualizing Learning to Teach:  Integrating campus with filed experiences, in which I am co-applicant with Dr Kathy Sanford.   In addition, this project is also supported by a “Learning and Teaching” grant from the University of Victoria.  This research program has examined the influence of pre-service teachers learning course content in relation to shared experiences in a school where children are taught using concepts taught in a university course.  Essentially, this research examines how SITE courses develop within a university program; how they influence teacher education within a course and the type of impact they have upon a school culture.  This line of inquiry has given me great satisfaction because it afforded me the opportunity to teach children PE in school settings with my student teachers observing, participating then gradually over time, taking over as the teacher.

(3)   Teaching games for understand (TGfU) represents a fascination with game play and teaching others how to gain the satisfaction of a well played game.  TGfU has been an area of interest I have pursued to connect the situated learning of game play with the understanding of tactical play and skill development.  I have experimented with how to breakdown tactical understanding and connect this to skill progression across all PE games.  Recently, I have been focused on making assessment in games lessons an integral part of learning how to play a game with students developing the ability to see and interpret game play cues.  My research in this area has focused on experimentation in instructional lessons with examples used to write theoretical and practitioner papers on this approach.

Finally, a new area of inquiry, developing from the SITE school partnerships, is global education and its impact on school and university education.   I have recently successfully co-ordinated an exchange of artwork between Elementary schools in Victoria and a school in Kabul, Afghanistan and schools in Suleimaniyah, Northern Iraq.  This project grew out of a frustration with the present international political climate and a desire to connect with educators struggling in difficult conditions in these war-torn countries.  This project has amazed me.  Based on the theme “The World We Want” children from Canada, Iraq and Afghanistan created artwork expressing their visions.  The artwork fashioned insights into the culture of children: the warmth, the pain, the desire to belong, the struggles, the joy, the hopes and the dreams.  This project has inspired me to collaborate with a team of researchers and teachers to apply for a CIDA Global Classroom Initiative grant.  If successful, this grant will promote the development of curriculum materials drawing on the artwork, exchanges of electronic cultural artefacts (music, games, dances) and build an ongoing network between these schools across cultural and international borders.