Assessment in Invasion Games: Part Two – Planning for Assessment

This is the second part of the Assessment in Invasion Games blog post series. If you have not yet read part onestart there before continuing to read here.
In part one of the Assessment in Invasion Games series we looked at how team sports make up a large part of most physical education programs worldwide, yet the assessment of student learning in these games in inauthentic and is often largely based upon assumptions.

As I approached my invasion games unit this year, I began to think about how I could not only teach the unit, but how I could authentically assess student performance and learning throughout the unit. I wanted to be sure that the learning opportunities that I was planning and presenting to the students were enabling them to develop not only their skills within these invasion games but also their tactical understanding and decision making skills.

In Dr Stephen Harvey‘s paper on Using a Generic Invasion Game for Assessment where he suggests “starting a games curriculum with a generic invasion-game unit, in which students are introduced to tactics in a non specific manner, may facilitate the teaching of basic game concepts before progressing to specific invasion games.”
Too often as physical educators we fall into the trap of wanting our students to play the “full version” of a sport like basketball, soccer or hockey without considering if this is the most appropriate way to introduce them to game concepts, strategies and decision making. By using a generic invasion game you may be able to create an environment where students are able to develop the transferable skills and understanding needed in order to play the “full version” later on.

Planning a Generic Invasion Game: Benchball


The central idea that was the focus of our invasion games unit was “By keeping control of an object & moving as a team to advance into the other team’s zone we can score points.”  When deciding on the generic invasion game for which I would use to assess the students I looked at the levels of tactical complexity within invasion games (*Note: The idea of designing games with tactical complexity in mind is another blog post that will be coming soon!) . At its most basic level of tactical complexity, invasion games are about maintaining possession of an object. If your team can keep control of the ball by passing and moving you are going to have a higher chance of scoring and therefore winning the game.  Potential tactical solutions to the idea of maintaining possession include short, fast passes to open players, communication skills and supporting the ball carrier.

The basic 4v4 game of benchball that you see above was the perfect generic invasion game for me to use with my Grade 3-5 students as it enabled them to demonstrate their ability to pass, move into open space and make appropriate decisions with and without the ball. In this version of the game students were aiming to maintain possession of the ball by passing to their teammates and ultimately score by passing the ball to the player on the bench at the end of the court. The player with the ball could not move, only pivot when in possession of the ball.

Choosing the Assessment Tools

As I mentioned in part one of this blog series, the nature of Invasion Games is such that participants are engaged in a constantly changing environment, continually requiring planning and effective problem solving. Assessment of student learning and performance needs to take place in a way which will allow you to identify key indicators of success within this chaotic environment. The assessment tool needs to take account of both the technical and tactical aspects of game play during game play in order to provide valid and reliable assessment.
At it’s most basic I want to know if students know what they should do with and without the ball and if they can execute the skills necessary to be successful. I want to be able to assess their decision making ability as well as their skill execution.

The Game Performance Assessment Instrument (GPAI) (Oslin, Mitchell, & Griffin, 1998) was developed to measure “game performance behaviors that demonstrate tactical understanding, as well as the player’s ability to solve tactical problems by selecting and applying appropriate skills.”  The GPAI contains seven basic components and can be adapted to assess students in a variety of games. Sounds like exactly what I was looking for right?

Another assessment tool that I knew about was the Team Sports Assessment Procedure (TSAP) which was developed by Grehaigne, Godbout and Bouthier in 1997.  The TSAP provides information that quantifies an individuals overall offensive performance in an invasion game. It reflects both tactical and technical aspects of game play, allowing assessment of both how a player gains possession of the ball as well as disposes the ball once they have it. Through my research into the TSAP, it seemed like another tool with which I could assess my students decision making as well as skill execution.

From Research to Practice: The Next Step

The next step in my assessment journey was to try and take what I had learnt from the research and put it into practice. In part three of the Assessment in Invasion Games series I will blogging about how I used these assessment tools during my invasion games unit as well as providing you with templates that you can use in your invasion games unit. Thanks for reading and stay tuned!

Click here to read part three of the Assessment in Invasion Games blog series.

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Nathan Horne is a Physical Educator based in Singapore and founder of iPhys-Ed.com. Be sure to never miss out on any of iPhys-Ed.com’s future posts by connecting with us via TwitterFacebook or subscribing to our RSS Feed
Nathan can be contacted on Twitter @PENathan or via email at nathan@iphys-ed.com

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