Linda Griffin, professor in the teacher education and school improvement program in the College of Education, is the recipient of this year’s Len Almond Award, which recognizes distinguished scholars in the field of sports pedagogy. The award is sponsored by the Teaching Games for Understanding Special Interest Group (TGfU SIG), which is part of the International Organization for Physical Education in Higher Education.
Griffin delivered the inaugural Len Almond Award lecture titled “Appreciation Matters: Sharing Recognition and Valuing Something Good” at TGfU’s 40th anniversary conference held virtually earlier this year. Griffin is an expert in games-centered approaches to teaching and learning sport-related games, and she applies those best practices to teaching her fall semester undergraduate courses with the goal of helping students understand the connections between contemporary sport, society and culture.
“By nature, games reflect our society,” says Griffin, who serves as chair of the Department of Student Development. “Since games are social, we have found dynamic and public social issues (i.e., discrimination and inequality) often emerge during gameplay and among students’ interaction. Through practical strategies, game scenarios and play situations, you can design games that inspire collaboration, respect, and acceptance among all students.”
Sports pedagogy research can take many shapes and forms, Griffin says, including macro-level analyses of teams, communities, and national cultures, as well as micro-level analyses of individual athlete development.
“The pedagogies chosen are a powerful way to influence athletes’ development and sense of themselves as they develop and evolve,” Griffin says.
In classes such as EDUC 190D: Learning Through Play, Games, and Sport, Griffin’s students are tasked with not only inventing an original sports-based game, but with drawing on pedagogical thinking to teach their peers the rules.
“Students appreciate taking ownership in their game and the process,” Griffin says.
Griffin said motivating students to engage thoughtfully with assignments like this requires a combination of approaches, including determining students’ prior knowledge; prioritizing small group work; being flexible; trusting students and the processes that develop in class; assigning short videos and readings to frame class discussions; and creating time during class to accomplish work on class projects.
More details about Griffin’s teaching approaches can be found on the College of Education website.