Teaching: Test for Knowledge Not Technique

Pat Aitken

With the limited time you have to teach sports skills, students will not develop a true mastery during classes. So are skill tests really a fair way to determine PE grades?

An alternate method of testing is to determine students' understanding of the sports skills they've been trying to learn. You can accomplish this by testing their knowledge of the performance cues they should know in order to perform these skills correctly.

For example, take the front roll in gymnastics. Rather than have students perform front rolls in front of the entire class, find out whether they understand the main components or performance cues necessary to perform the skill.

A sample question might be: “You have a friend who isn't sure how to do a front roll.  Write down five things that would help your friend do the front roll better.”

Correct answers might include five of the cues you have taught the class. For example:

  1. Hands down, thumbs in.
  2. Seat to the sky.
  3. Look through your legs.
  4. Roll in a ball.
  5. Back on your feet. 
1. Robert Pangrazi, Dynamic Physical Education Curriculum Guide: Lesson Plans for Implementation, 17th Edition. Benjamin Cummings, 2012.
2. Peter H. Werner, Teaching Children Gymnastics: Becoming a Master Teacher, Human Kinetics Publishers, 1994.

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