Barriers and facilitators to using digital technologies in the Cooperative Learning model in physical education

Hannah Bodsworth, Victoria Goodyear

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: The influence of technology on children’s everyday lives is significant in today’s society, with children described as digital natives and/or the iGeneration. There are also a range of digital technologies available for use in education and a number of pedagogical approaches reported to support technology integration and pupil learning in physical education contexts. The use of technology by practitioners at present, however, is far from omnipresent. Consequently, the mechanisms that can support practitioners to use digital technologies to help pupils learn optimally in physical education requires further attention.
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore the barriers and facilitators to purposeful technology integration when using the Cooperative Learning model in physical education.
Research Design: Data are presented from an action research project that focussed on how a teacher-researcher used iPads (tablet personal computers) within the Cooperative Learning model to support pupil learning. An athletics (track and field) unit was taught to two separate classes (37 pupils in total) using the key features of the Cooperative Learning model. The teacher-researcher used action research as a professional learning mechanism to refine her practice through gathering data from focus groups interviews with pupils, teacher-researcher reflections and a colleague’s observations.
Data Analysis: Data analysis was ongoing throughout the athletics units as part of the action research design. Following the unit data were analysed through inductive analysis and constant comparison and the authors engaged in a peer examination process.
Findings: Unfamiliarity with technology and poor group cooperation were identified as initial barriers to pupil learning when integrating technology. Action research, however, and the process of reflection and collaborative inquiry acted as key facilitators for the teacher-researcher to learn how to use digital technology to support learning.
Conclusion: Findings challenge existing literature which position the ‘digital natives’ or iGeneration of today’s society as competent and able to use digital technologies to learn in formal educational contexts. Moreover, this study shows that selecting a well-defined pedagogical approach that has been previously reported to support technology use, such as Cooperative Learning, will not automatically result in positive learning experiences for pupils. If practitioners are to purposefully integrate digital technologies into physical education and ensure technology can help students to learn optimally, practitioners should engage with a reflexive process of learning, such as action research, to refine and develop their practices.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalPhysical Education and Sport Pedagogy
Early online date1 Mar 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Mar 2017


  • pedagogy
  • technology
  • iPads
  • Cooperative Learning


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