BLOG: Need a map to navigate the AC:HPE? Try the Spectrum!

BLOG: Need a map to navigate the AC:HPE? Try the Spectrum!

16th Feb 17

by Brendan SueSee, University of Southern Queensland


The Australian Curriculum for Health and Physical Education (HPE) has been a long time in the making and while some may suggest that it is not perfect, educators and curriculum writers have achieved something which is commendable. In saying that, it does present some challenges for educators to meet its aims. Two of the five aims suggest that the Australian Curriculum in HPE aims to develop knowledge and understanding to enable students to:

  • develop and use personal, behavioural, social and cognitive skills and strategies to promote a sense of personal identity and wellbeing and to build and manage respectful relationships;
  • acquire, apply and evaluate movement skills, concepts and strategies to respond confidently, competently and creatively in a variety of physical activity contexts and settings (ACARA, 2016, p. 4).

While no one is arguing that these are not worthwhile aims, how teachers are to achieve them is not thoroughly outlined. Pedagogically few suggestions are offered except to use “include a critical inquiry approach” (ACARA, 2016, p. 6), that teaching should be “inclusive and relevant” (p. 11) and that “peer teaching” (p. 67) may be used to teach about diversity. In the spirit of the cliché “better to light a candle than to complain about the dark”, I will offer some teaching styles from Mosston & Ashworth’s Spectrum of Teaching Styles (2008 – a free online version is available to be downloaded here) to help HPE teachers meet the descriptors and elaborations from the ACARA document.

For example, a content descriptor requires students to “Participate positively in groups and teams by encouraging others and negotiating roles and responsibilities (ACPMP067)” (ACARA, 2016, p. 40). One elaboration from this descriptor suggests students need to do this by:

  • using reflective listening when working in small groups on movement tasks or challenges (ACARA, 2016, p. 40);
  • exploring and performing the duties and responsibilities of different roles for a range of physical activities (ACARA, 2016, p. 40).

A teaching style from the Spectrum that would help meet both of these elaborations would be the Reciprocal Style – C. In the Reciprocal Style you would see students working in a partner relationship with each partner engaged in different roles (different decisions and expectations). One partner (the doer) practices the task, while the other partner (the observer) uses a teacher-prepared criteria (checklist) to offer immediate and ongoing feedback about the performance to the doer. When the first set of tasks is finished, the students switch roles and continue to the second set of tasks. The teacher interacts with the observer to affirm the use of the criteria and the accuracy of the feedback comments and/or to redirect the observer’s focus to specific performance details on the criteria.

Let’s have a look at what this may look like with Reciprocal Style - C.

Lesson 1 - teach a skill/tactic.

Lesson 2 - revise the skill/tactic from previous lesson. Tell students we will be using a new teaching style today (Style C). Explain the roles (doer, observer and teacher). Hand out criteria sheet (example below for drop punt) and go through it. Explain how to give feedback appropriately, how to listen to someone giving feedback, how to negotiate if you do not understand/agree with the feedback etc. Pair students up and allow the practicing to begin. Observer provides feedback to doer as they kick. At completion doer and observer switch roles. Teacher circulates around talking ONLY to the observer about how well the doer is/is not performing the task in comparison to the criteria sheet. At the completion of the episode open-ended questioning (provided below) could be used to discuss how the different roles and responsibilities were dealt with along with the physical performance.


Criteria Sheet for a Drop Punt Always Sometimes Never
Stand with feet together, holding the ball with two hands on the side of the ball. Fingers facing forward.       
Look at target and step towards target with non-kicking foot.       
Bend kicking leg at the knee.        
Keep head over the ball.        
Drop the ball onto your foot and extend leg.       
Contact ball at laces and point toe at target.        


Possible Questions to meet the content descriptor of "exploring and performing the duties and responsibilities of different roles for a range of physical activities" (ACARA, 2016, p. 40) could be:

  • What were the roles you played in this activity?
  • How did you make it positive? How would you make it negative?
  • Why is the role of the doer important? In a team, who is like the doer?
  • How does the role of the doer promote enjoyment/safety/positive outcomes?
  • What might happen if the doer spoke inappropriately?
  • Did anyone ever disagree with the feedback? How did you resolve this conflict?
  • What might be a way to resolve the conflict in future?
  • What may be some ways to begin sentences to do this?
  • Was listening important to succeeding in this activity? Why?
  • How do we show we are listening? What may happen if we don’t do this?

When questions are asked in this way (requiring students to reflect on their encounter) after the learning experience, some would suggest that the teaching style has the hallmarks of Guided Discovery Style – F (some may not but that’s for another blog!). Others (Mosston & Ashworth, 2008) would suggest that it is Practice Style – B (guided practice). Irrelevant of which style it is, a learning experience has been provided using teaching styles that allow students to meet the descriptor and elaborations. And after all, isn’t that one thing that being a HPE teacher is about?


The Australian Curriculum Health and Physical Education (2016). Version 8.3, accessed at
Mosston, M., & Ashworth, S. (2008). Teaching physical education: First online edition. Spectrum Institute for Teaching and Learning. (United States). [E-Book Download]


About the Author
Brendan SueSee is a lecturer at the University of Southern Queensland, Australia. His research interests have been focused on teaching styles, syllabus documents and assessment. Brendan has been a secondary PE teacher for 21 years and taught at Cavendish Road High School in Brisbane for the majority of that time. He taught P-10 HPE, P-10 Geography and History, Senior Physical Education and Senior Health Education.  He completed his doctoral studies at QUT and has tutored part time there and also at USQ. His doctoral research involved collecting self-reported teaching styles (as defined by Mosston & Ashworth’s Spectrum) used by teachers of senior physical education, and coding the observed teaching styles of nine teachers over three lessons. He then compared this to the teaching styles which the 2004 Senior Physical Education Syllabus suggested should be used. He can be contacted at

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