Dealing with the diverse needs of practitioners in complex social-ecological settings by Prof. Mustafa Levent Ince

Professor Mustafa Levent Ince is a Professor of Physical Education and Sport at the Middle East Technical University in Turkey and is one of the four keynote speakers at the AIESEP World Congress hosted by the University of Edinburgh in 25th-28th July 2018. In this blog, he gives us a brief insight into the complexity of learning in social-ecological settings.

Dealing with the diverse needs of practitioners in complex social-ecological settings

During my professional career, my practitioner research interests have revolved around one personal grand challenge: how can I better support the learning of my students?  Along this career journey, I have worked with three main groups of learners; a) students/athletes (middle-high school students, university students, youth athletes), b) physical education (PE) teachers/coaches (prospective PE  teachers, PE teachers, PE teacher educators, youth sports coaches), and c) postgraduate students/researchers. My study setting with those learners has been quite chaotic due to the influence of high social-economic, cultural, and physical variations. This has been further complicated by the presence of conflicting educational and sports policies in a developing country context.

As my knowledge of subject matter has expanded by studying research, doing research, and observing in the field, I recognized that effectively meeting the learning needs of those groups requires critical knowledge of both educational settings and how to make educational decisions in practice. More specifically, this involves: 1) identifying the learner subsets and their specific needs, 2) having a comprehensive view of  the educational setting by considering the impact of social, physical, and policy settings over the learner and their learning, 3) connecting PE stakeholders (in my case, above mentioned learner groups and local policy makers) with the same ideals/aims to support each other meaningfully, 4) creating, sustaining, and supporting institutional, local, and global professional learning communities, 5) being future-oriented in educational decisions, and 6) being data-driven in the practice.  In my keynote presentation at the AIESEP World Congress in Edinburgh 2018, I will explore each of these issues in-depth. In this blog, I will briefly summarise my position on two of them: identifying the needs of learners and viewing the educational setting from a social-ecological perspective.

Identifying learner subsets and their needs

Learner subsets are usually categorized in the literature by gender, age, prior knowledge and skill levels, learning styles, and motivation. However, unique learners may have other specific subset characteristics that are not well defined, and we may need to analyze them in depth to understand better their needs 1, 2, 3, 4. Recently, we identified that learner subsets are very susceptible to local social-ecological changes (e.g., learners’ expectations, health and digital literacy, and social changes by immigration, economic crisis, and technological advances). Each subset also has variations that require an inclusive strategy to meet learners’ needs. Practitioners may develop a better understanding of their own learners by examining the learner characteristics that have been identified in this literature. This may also support them as they make decisions about how to adapt their instructional practices and monitor the impact of those practices.

Having a comprehensive view of educational setting by using social-ecological model

The social-ecological model provides a holistic view of the educational setting. Mapping learner characteristics solely in the educational setting to make instructional decisions is a reductionist approach, and may result in limited outcomes for learners. Our studies indicated that community mapping by using the social, physical, and educational policy setting, as well as the learner characteristics are efficient to improve the learners’ learning.5 Teachers and their learners, therefore, may benefit from taking account of all the layers of the social-ecological framework.

At the AIESEP World Congress, 2018 in Edinburgh, I will present a more in-depth analysis of all six issues identified at the beginning of this blog. I hope to see you there.References

  1. Muftuler M & Ince ML (2015) Use of trans-contextual model-based physical activity course in developing leisure-time physical activity behavior of university students. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 121, p.31-55.
  2. Kilic K & Ince ML (2015) Use of sports science knowledge by Turkish coaches. International Journal of Exercise Science, 8, p.21-37.
  3. Ince ML & Hunuk D (2013) Experienced physical education teachers’ health-related fitness knowledge level and knowledge internalization processes. Education and Science, 38, p.304-317.
  4. Semiz K & Ince ML (2012) Pre-service physical education teachers’ technological pedagogical content knowledge, technology integration self-efficacy and instructional technology outcome expectations. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 28, p.1248-1265.
  5. Cengiz C & Ince ML (2014) Impact of social-ecologic intervention on physical activity knowledge and behaviors of rural students. Journal of Physical Activity & Health, 11, p.1565-1572.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *