Teachers' behavior during primary school physical education lessons in Hong Kong

Chung LI

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Physical Education (PE) in primary schools in Hong Kong has not been satisfactorily run as it claims. Most PE lessons are found to be ineffective in meeting the desirable needs of the pupils nowadays. It seems that PE lessons have been conducted as ‘organized recess’ which are mostly ‘recreational’ rather than ‘educational’ oriented. Their goals are to keep the pupils ‘busy’, ‘happy’ and ‘good’ rather than ‘skilled’, ‘fit’ and ‘satisfied’ (Placek 1983). No wonder PE is the only cultural subject that has been excluded from the ‘Secondary School Places Allocation System’. Has the PE curriculum been effectively implemented? Is it the responsibility of the PE teachers to make the lessons more meaningful to the pupils? How does the teachers’ behavior during lessons affect the quality of PE in primary schools? The present study employed the descriptive-analytic methodology to comment or what primary school PE teachers did and how they spent their time during PE lessons. Thirteen PE teachers with an average teaching experience of seven years were involved in the study. One of the lessons from each teacher was studied, which was done through direct observation while video-taping was adopted fro cross referencing. Information concerning ‘time’ spent on management and instruction of the teachers, and left for pupils to practice their skill was collected by means of duration recording, whereas the actual teaching behaviors of the teachers were done through event recording. Pupils’ activity level was monitored by means of the heart rate meters (Polar PE 3000). Correlation analysis was employed to examine the relationship between various context variables and the time spent on each areas of the teachers. Results showed that pupils were generally allotted relatively low percentage of time for skill practice. Teachers’ managerial and instructional behaviors occupied nearly two thirds of the lesson time. Relatively high percentage of time was spent on travelling at the beginning and the end of the class. Equipment and behavior management dominated most of the managerial behavior of the teachers. Most of the teachers relied much on verbal explanation as their instructional means. Exercise intensity of the pupils in terms of exercise heart rate during PE lessons was low. The value concerning the direct contribution of physical activities during PE lessons to ‘health’ was questioned. Most teachers adopted a three-segment lesson format – introductory activities, skill practices and group activities. Stretching and running exercises were most commonly adopted for warming up in the introductory part and the importance of the calming down activities at the end of the lessons were usually neglected. Lessons were rather independently implemented as little evidence concerning the review and transfer of learning between lessons were guided by the teachers. The context variables such as the teachers’ experience, types of the lessons and class level etc. were found having little impact on how teachers and pupils spent their time during the lessons, although the time spent on practicing was slightly more in senior forms and in the ball game lessons. As for short term measures, this study suggested to strengthen the awareness of the PE teachers concerning the time element and improvement of the teachers’ instructional and managerial skills through pre and in service teacher education programmes. Thus, pupils could have more opportunities and time for practice during PE lessons. A long term overall evaluation of the PE provision for primary schools concerning the teacher to pupils ratio, school administration and number of PE periods per week should be initiated so that a better and qualitative physical educational provision for primary school pupils could be offered.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1995


teachers' behavior
physical education
primary school
Hong Kong
primary school pupil
school administration
education curriculum


Li, C. (1995, November). Teachers' behavior during primary school physical education lessons in Hong Kong. Paper presented at the Hong Kong Educational Research Association 12th Annual Conference: Rethinking Education: Reflective Practice, Professionalism and Postmodernization, The Hong Kong Institute of Education, China.