Health, Exercise, and Sports Sciences ETDs


Edward Rhudy

Publication Date



This study compared the effectiveness of the small-group method and command method of teaching a physical education activity course, including a comparison of the behaviors of students in small-group classes and command classes.

The study was conducted utilizing 79 male and female subjects enrolled in four beginning swimming classes at The University of New Mexico during the Spring semester of 1974.

The study employed both empirical and descriptive research methodologies. The empirical study consisted of measuring changes in seven dependent variables: (1) attitude toward the physical activity, (2) attitude toward the instructor of the course, (3) self-esteem, (4) personal- self, (5) physical-self, (6) social-self, and (7) skill acquisition.

The instrument used to measure personal-self, physical-self, social-self, and self-esteem was the Tennessee Self Concept Scale, as developed by Fitts. It was administered following a pretest/posttest procedure. The instrument used to measure students' attitudes toward the physical activity and the instructor of the course was the "Students' Reaction to Instruction and Courses, 2nd Edition," as developed by Hoyt and Owens. It was administered following a posttest only procedure. Skill acquisition was measured by the individual instructor of each course and the researcher. The swimming skills measured were the front crawl, the back crawl, elementary backstroke, sidestroke, and breaststroke.

The seven hypotheses were tested using two analyses of variance and four analyses of covariance. The design of each test was a 4 x 1 with the type I error rate set at .05.

No significant differences were found with any of the statistical tests. It was found that students' attitudes toward beginning swimming and the instructor of the course were the same regardless of whether students were in classes where the small-group method or the command method of teaching was used. It was also found that students' self-esteem, personal-self, physical-self, and social-self remained unchanged regardless of whether they were in classes where the small-group method or the command method of teaching was used.

Results also indicated that students' self-concept, which included the personal-self, physical-self, social-self, and self-esteem, was not subject to manipulation by different methods of teaching.

The descriptive research consisted of approximately 10 observations of each class. The purposes of these observations were to insure that the instructors followed the assigned method of teaching, to develop small-group instructional strategies, and to compare the behaviors of students in the small-group and command classes. Results indicated that it was necessary for an instructor to understand, accept, and be comfortable with the premises embodied in the rationale for small-group methods of teaching, that there are no major differences between using small-group methods in a "content" course and a physical education activity course, and that, although class time must be allowed for students to become acquainted, it was not necessary for students to study group dynamics for small-group methods of teaching to be used effectively.

The results of this study indicate that a teacher can manipulate the classroom climate so as to produce certain behaviors from students, and the method of teaching used in a physical education activity class does not necessarily affect several measures of self-concept. However, the student behaviors in response to the two teaching methods do differ along predicted dimensions.

Document Type




Degree Name

Physical Education, Sports and Exercise Science

Level of Degree


Department Name

Health, Exercise, and Sports Sciences

First Committee Member (Chair)

Lawrence B. Rosenfeld

Second Committee Member

Armond H. Seidler

Third Committee Member

Kenneth Lersten

Fourth Committee Member

John Gustafson