Matthew Curtner-Smith, EdD

Professor and Department Head, Department of Kinesiology

Matthew Curtner-Smith


University of Alabama


United States

 I was first introduced to the Spectrum as an undergraduate student at the University of Exeter in England by Martin Underwood, a faculty member in the Physical Education department in 1979. While teaching PE in England, my interest in the Spectrum was rekindled by a lecture I attended for PE teachers in the county of Somerset in 1986. The keynote speaker that day was Elizabeth Murdoch. I retained a strong interest in the Spectrum throughout my master's and doctoral work as it seemed to me that it was, together with the work on teacher effectiveness, the foundational pedagogy that all PE teachers should know. Based on this line of thinking, it seemed obvious to use the Spectrum with my own pre-service teachers once I became a teacher educator and began to study teaching.

For the last 23 years, I have trained undergraduate physical education teachers and worked with graduate students pursuing masters and doctoral degrees in sport pedagogy at the University of Alabama. Additionally, I conduct research on physical education teachers, teaching, teacher education, and curriculum.

Along with my colleagues, we have employed the Spectrum within the undergraduate PETE program as part of a three-tiered foundational system. The first tier is behavioristic in nature and focuses on pre-service teachers learning pedagogical skills from the effectiveness literature. The second tier involves pre-service teachers becoming familiar with the Spectrum, while the third involves students learning various PE curriculum models.

My Spectrum oriented research has focused mainly on how British teachers' use of teaching styles changed and developed following the implementation of the National Curriculum for Physical Education in England and Wales. In addition, together with my graduate students, I have also examined how teaching styles employed by American high school basketball coaches change across a season. Finally, I was involved in a study with Mitch Parker in which we examined how teaching style use varied between different physical education models. All this research has involved coding PE lessons or sports practices with the Instrument for Identifying Teaching Styles (IFITS), an interval recording systematic observation instrument which records the amount of time in which teachers employ the productive and reproductive teaching styles of the spectrum as well as manage pupils/players.

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