The purpose for this study was to investigate the strategies adopted by Physical Education (PE) teachers to manage students’ diversity in Mixed Ability Classes (MAC) and also to examine the factors that influence teachers’ choice of teaching strategies for MAC during instruction as well as the challenges teachers encounter in teaching MAC. Descriptive survey design was adopted for the study. The entire population of 135 trained PE teachers was purposively sampled for the study. Descriptive statistics (mean and standard deviation) and inferential statistics (multiple regressions) were used in analyzing and discussing the result. The findings of the study revealed that whole class teaching strategies (M=2.98, SD=0.63) is the most frequently used teaching strategy by Senior High School (SHS) PE teachers in Central Region. Station teaching (M=2.54, SD = 1.04) was the rarely used teaching strategy by SHS PE teachers in Central Region. The findings also revealed that the amount of space available to a teacher influences their decision to use group/cooperative (S.E. =1.009, B= 1.95, < 0.05). The use of station teaching is influenced by the amount of teaching time available to them (S.E=0.953, B=1.13, P ˃ 0.05). It is concluded, the predominant use of whole class teaching coupled with the challenges PE teachers in Central Region encounter in their MAC will limit their ability to cater for the needs of students. It is recommended that the Ministry of Education (MoE) in conjunction with other stakeholders should provide and supply adequate facilities and equipment for the teaching of PE.

Any group of students are likely to demonstrate considerable variation in their learning characteristics and behaviors. When the group includes students with learning deficiencies or other learning disorders, the amount of variation in learning is significantly increased. The diverse learning characteristics displayed by students in today’s schools make it necessary for teachers to implement a wide variety of activities in their classes (Bender, 2012). This study explores how Physical Education (PE) teachers in the Central Region of Ghana manage students’ diversity in a Mixed Ability Classroom (MAC).

This chapter is the introductory section of the study which presents the general background to the study, statement of the problem, purpose of the study, research questions, and significance of the study, delimitation and limitations, definition of terms and organization of the study.

Background to the Study
When a teacher tries to teach something to the entire class at the same time, chances are, one-third of the kids already know it; one-third will get it; and the remaining one-third will not. So two-thirds of the children are wasting their time (Katz, 1988). This is particularly true because students enter classes with vastly different and varied skill sets, levels of confidence and interests. Any group of students is likely to demonstrate considerable variation in their learning characteristics and behaviours (Gentry, Sallie, & Sanders, 2013).

Diversity is apparent in PE class and is a challenge to engage all of these students in the PE class (Kiley, 2011; Hess, 2001). The diverse learning characteristics displayed by students in today’s schools make it necessary for teachers to implement a wide variety of activities in their classes (Bender, 2012). With the advent of inclusive education, the handicapped students are more frequently taught in the regular education setting, as well as the gifted and talented ones. This creates a more heterogeneous grouping of students. Even the best trained and most willing teachers have difficulty meeting the diverse needs of their heterogeneous classes, let alone the special requirements of students with moderate to severe disabilities (Tomlinson, 2004).

To be able to meet the needs of all students in the MAC, teachers must use different instructional strategies or teaching methods, resources/materials and appropriate grouping techniques that suit the level of the students and the content being taught. Through the use of differentiated instructional strategies, educators can meet the needs of all students and help them meet and exceed the established standards (Levy, 2008). Though most teachers and administrators are not familiar with the term differentiated instruction, the foundations from which it evolved are known by them. It evolved on the foundation that all students differ in one way or the other therefore content, process, and product must be adjusted to support individual needs so that each student can become an active member of a learning community (Tomlinson, 1999). This objective can be accomplished by choosing appropriate teaching methods to match each individual student’s learning needs (Adami, 2004).

Teaching and learning usually involve instruction (Delvin, Kift, & Nelson, 2012). Instruction may be teacher centered, student centered or dialogue oriented (Ebert, Ebert & Bentley, 2011). Teacher centered instruction is one way where the teacher decides what students must know thus the teacher conveys the knowledge to the students as they listen/imitate. In student centered instruction, the students are assisted to manage their thoughts, experiences and make meanings out of them. The dialogue approach allows exchange of ideas between the teacher and the students.

Instruction may be direct or indirect. Direct instruction has the teacher giving instruction with little or no input from the students, as in a lecture. It is often used when presenting new information. Indirect instruction has both the teacher and students as active participants of the instructional process. It is best used when the process of arriving at a conclusion or product is as important as the conclusion or product itself (Boleware, 2016).

Issues such as the developmental level of the students, the instructional venue (indoors, outdoors, individual desks, tables and chairs for group work, etc.), and the subject matter to be presented must be considered when choosing an instructional strategy. Instructional/teaching strategy is a frame work that arranges instructional environment for group teaching (Rink 1998). Generally speaking, there are a number of strategies from which a teacher might choose but teachers must use a variety of these strategies during instruction. As has previously been the case, students make up a diverse population with varying backgrounds, knowledge and learning styles, hence, what works well for one

will not necessarily work well for another. Therefore, the teacher may well determine that a combination of techniques would be most appropriate since varying instruction makes a teacher more likely to reach all her students (Ebert, Ebert & Bentley, 2011). Classroom teaching is a blend of whole-class, group and individual instruction (Hall, 2002).

A MAC can only be effectively taught if the teacher accepts that every lesson cannot be whole class teaching with lessons controlled from the front (Bremner, 2008). Students in mixed ability groups can maximize learning when given personalized opportunities by working in pairs or small groups during instruction (Dudley & Osváth, 2016). Pair work and group work also offer greater variety within activities, allowing individual students to work together with a number of different classmates in the same lesson and, over the course of a term. The debate on how students of different academic abilities should be organized and taught is probably as old as the introduction of formal schooling in communities (Mafa, 2003). This debate has divided the world of educational research into two distinct camps: one camp in favour of mixed ability grouping and the other one for grouping students according to academic ability. Mixed ability grouping affords all students equal educational opportunities regardless of their differences in intellectual abilities, special educational needs, gender, race and social class (Green, 2002; Mann, 2002).

Ability grouping is based on the pedagogical principle that the teacher has the advantage of focusing instruction at the level of all the students in the particular group (Ansalone, 2000). It is assumed that teachers can increase the pace and raise instruction level for high achievers whereas low level students can enjoy individual attention. Achievement is considered to increase as teachers adjust the pace of instruction to students’ needs (Mulkey et al., 2005). Ability grouping may decrease the self-esteem and aspirations of low ability children and therefore decelerate their academic progress (Welner & Mickelson, 2000; Ansalone, 2001; Wheelock, 2005).

On the other hand, teachers also face numerous challenges in their quest to meet the needs of all students in a mixed ability classroom. This is supported by Corley (2005) when he stated that, the greatest challenge of adopting instruction in a MAC relates to time: the planning time that teachers need to assess learners’ needs, interests, and readiness levels; to determine key concepts and organizing questions; and to design appropriate activities for each learner. Other challenges which have been listed by other researchers (Corley, 2005; VanTassel-Baska & Stambaugh, 2005) include: lack of classroom management skills necessary to support mixed ability teaching, lack of content knowledge necessary to extend and differentiate the typical curriculum content areas, lack of materials/resources that would facilitate teaching, lack of support or encouragement by the school leadership, lack of relevant pedagogical knowledge and teaching skills to teach mixed ability class.

Statement of the Problem
A typical Ghanaian Senior High School (SHS) classroom can be likened to a mixed ability educational set-up. Students comprise advanced, moderate and slow learners. To meet the needs of all these children, several adaptations need to be made to facilitate the understanding of all so as not to disadvantage any ability group. Different instructional strategies must be adopted so as to meet the needs of all ability groups. Teachers find it difficult to teach adaptively or modify teaching approaches to meet the diverse learners’ needs in a regular classroom (Kuyini, 2013; Westwood, 2004). This implies that a category of learners are likely to be excluded from actively participating in the learning process.

A study by Kuyini and Desai (2008) revealed that teachers make limited or no instructional adaptation to support children with disabilities found in the regular classroom. Agbenyega and Deku (2011) also found that the pedagogical practices of teachers in the regular classroom in Ghana are prescriptive, inflexible, mechanistic, and do not value variety of learning styles of pupils. Again, a study by Kuyini and Mangope (2011) also revealed that most street children in Accra dropout of school because teaching and learning do not suit their learning needs. Studies have shown that teachers are not able to meet the varied educational needs of students hence the achievement of the students educational goals suffer.

PE is a subject area where attention needs to be given to students of different abilities especially in MACs. This is because the physical development of every student is very important to the total development of that student in other to meet the educational domains. Most importantly the health development of individual. Since the students are of mixed ability and the concept of individual differences cannot be over emphasized, the PE teacher must find a way in other to satisfy each pupil in his or her classroom.

It is along these line that the researcher would want to find out the strategies PE teachers in Central Region are adopting in other to satisfy individuals with mixed abilities found in their classroom.

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Item Type: Ghanaian Topic  |  Size: 121 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.


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