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HKR faculty member gets award for doctoral thesis

By Michelle Osmond

Dr. Tim Fletcher has been awarded the Canadian Association for Teacher Education (CATE) Recognition Award for Theses and Dissertations in Teacher Education. The assistant professor in the School of Human Kinetics and Recreation recently joined Memorial as a physical education professor.

The awards promote teacher education research and scholarship in pre-service education, in-service education and professional development. Every year CATE recognizes students who wrote doctoral dissertations and master's theses in teacher education.

Dr. Fletcher's dissertation was titled Learning to Teach Health and Physical Education: The Experiences of Elementary Student Teachers. He studied people who were learning to become elementary classroom teachers, i.e., those who teach multiple subjects including math, language arts, social studies, etc. Dr. Fletcher noticed that, in their teacher certification programs, they receive minimal instruction in physical education and few opportunities to observe strong physical education teaching in schools.

"In most places, except Newfoundland and Labrador funny enough, they are also expected to teach physical education. What makes this problematic is that many of these teachers look back upon their own experiences of physical education negatively from the time they were school students," explained Dr. Fletcher. "I was interested in learning how their prior experiences of physical education influenced their thoughts about teaching physical education, and the extent to which their physical education teacher education course could lead to a change in their views."

Dr. Fletcher says the strongest finding from his research was that many of the teachers did change the view that they needed to be athletic to teach physical education. He found that many came around to the idea that they should be open to non-traditional forms of physical education such as dance, yoga, personal fitness and co-operative games and be keen to teach students about the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle.

An article on Dr. Fletcher's finding is in press for the journal Physical Education & Sport Pedagogy to be published later this year. He will be presented with the award at the Canadian Society for the Study of Education annual conference in May.