It’s about this time of year when AS students should be turning their attention to that dreaded question 7. This time of year because of both revision, and in my centre at least, it’s when we deliver that material. We do so because of the very nature of the content, which easily lends itself to a practical delivery that can incorporate lots of revision of other material. The other reasons that it will hopefully remain within the student’s memory. It is after all, the only area of the specification where we pretty much know what is going to examined (well nearly!).
The Applied Exercise Physiology content is easily delivered in practical lessons. My centre begins studying this area with a visit to the sports hall for a session involving a warm-up. We guide the students through the warm-up, emphasising the essential methodology involved and the benefits of warming-up to the performer. We also provide summarised notes; essentially, this is the edited mark scheme from a past paper question. The warm-up is the start to a practical lesson which is concerned with training methods. Each AS group is divided into 6 groups/pairs, depending on numbers, and each group is told to research a particular training method and be prepared to deliver an exemplar version of that training method to the rest of the class, as well as providing suitable summarised notes for the whole group. We use a carousel approach, one group of students teaching the other students the main ideas behind each training method, and then the group move on to the next method. You can deliver all the information that might be required for the examination question for warm-ups and training methods in one session in this way.
Although we have no exemplar question concerning training methods, we have made an educated guess as to how such a topic might be examined. We don’t envisage that a question would involve describing a single training method. It would be much more likely, in our opinion, that a typical question would be something like ‘explain how different training methods could be used to improve a performer’s strength/power/stamina’. Then the mark scheme would involves definition of the fitness component and a couple of points about the basic principles involved in improving power for example, such as making the movements fairly intense, but very rapid. Following from this assumption comes the realisation that for each training method it is likely that only three of four key points need to be known, and this is what we emphasise to the students; demonstrate the method and highlight the main principles. We also use this carousel and summative approach when delivering the fitness testing area.
This delivery method also provides many opportunities for revision questions, either asked verbally/ad hoc during the practical session, or by providing worksheets that have to be answered during and/or following the session. Movement analysis fits in really well to this process, but the same ideas can be used for cardiac, vascular and pulmonary physiology. We tend to make the questions more simplistic than those found in past papers, but just as demanding, emphasising the key points. For example we might ask the main cause of cardio-vascular drift, or the main relationship involved in Starlings Law, or naming the nerve that send impulses to increase breathing rate, or naming the rings of smooth muscle that assist vasoconstriction. We also end the lesson with the detailed practicalities and the benefits of a cool-down, again aiming to provide knowledge of the ten points that have previously occurred as a mark scheme.
We follow the training methods lesson with one that concerns fitness testing. We issue the testing protocols for different fitness tests to the students and get pairs/groups to run each test. We ensure that the materials provided contain emphasised detail of the types of question that might come up in an examination, such as what was previously required for the May 2013 exam. In that question the students needed to know 5 detailed points about tests for power and agility, so we require the same number of key points for all other tests. We can still include revision questions similar to those espoused above. We then have a review lesson which details the concepts of validity and reliability, maximal and sub-maximal testing, and benefits of, and ethical aspects of fitness testing.
A third lesson concerns itself with a review of the training methods and fitness testing sessions but also introduces the ideas (SPORT and FITT) behind training principles. Again we use past paper mark scheme to delineate the anticipated depth of knowledge required if a question arises based on this topic. While reviewing training principles we will also be showing students how to measure intensity and provided summarised past paper mark schemes as notes. We finish this third practical lesson with demonstrations about the different forms of stretching. Again we require our students to research and explain the different forms of stretching as well as providing summarise notes for the rest of the class. Revision questions are again also asked and handed out. It needs to be remembered that question 7 is marked through a banded mark scheme, where the eventual mark awarded depends on the number of correct responses made from the mark scheme. That mark scheme will invariably have about 10 creditable points for the training and fitness aspect and ten points for the skill development aspect. So we tend to try to anticipate potential questions and provide suitable sets of 10 responses for each area.
The skill development area also lends itself to the same structure, with the students researching and delivering a specific aspect of the specification on a carousel-type lesson. We can usually manage to deliver four teaching styles, the various aspects of whole/part methods of presenting practice in one lesson and then different types of massed and distributed practice and the four methods of guidance in another. Once again we require the students to research the methods involved and provide notes in the form of ten summative points. Once again there is a predominance of revision questions and handouts being supplied. But for this area, the questions tend to be more geared towards the skill acquisition area of the specification. We tend to save detail of how feedback affects learning for a classroom-based lesson.
One of the major benefits of this approach is the fact that much of this area depends on having a detailed knowledge of information processing and skill classification which students can only have near the end of the course. It is also good in that it involves considerable kinaesthetic learning, which is the preferred method for many of our students. It also gets the students researching and summarising topics that can be quite ‘dry’ to deliver in a classroom. Finally, it gets the students revising relatively early, but in a ‘fun’ way.