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11 abr 2012

The interpretation of body language of p.e. upervisorswith video based observation methods

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Video based observation methods are actually under investigation, e.g. questions of scientific standards, criteria of quality and the reduction of the complexity of audio-video data. This preliminary study shows a methodological procedure of observation which emphasize on the body language in the teaching-learning process.

Autor(es): Lang, Simone
Entidades(es):University of Rostock (Germany)
Congreso: congreso de la asociación internacional de escuelas superiores de educación física (AIESEP)
Úbeda A Coruña, 26-29 de Octubre de 2010
ISBN: 9788461499465
Palabras claves: educational program, sport clubs, p.e. supervisor, communication, interaction, scientific observation, biographical interview, triangulation

The interpretation of body language of p.e. upervisorswith video based observation methods


Video based observation methods are actually under investigation, e.g. questions of scientific standards, criteria of quality and the reduction of the complexity of audio-video data. This preliminary study shows a methodological procedure of observation which emphasize on the body language in the teaching-learning process. It shows a possibility how to triangulate video based observation data with data of biographical interviews. The issue is the mutual communication of two p.e. supervisors in sport clubs and the communication with the participants of the educational program. The point of view of supervisor 1 will be presented and discussed. The commons and differences between the lived and told biography of the biographical interview data help to explain interaction patterns of the audio-visual data. In one case the avoiding of eye contact of supervisor 1 with one participant was one indicator that there was a gap between his words and actions. The audio-video data can be interpreted with more validity applying the methodological procedure of triangulation.


At present scientific observation methods based on video recordings are under development (Knoblauch, et al., 2009). There are several questions under investigation, e.g. concerning the scientific standards and the criteria of quality in general. Another question is how to deal with the high complexity of audio-visual data (also audio-video data or video data). There are different methodological approximations on the issues of video based scientific observation (Knoblauch & Schnettler, 2007; Seidel et al., 2005; Mohn, 2008). The focus of video based observation studies often is interaction and communication (Denzin, 2007; Goffman, 2009), as it is in this case.


The video data were recorded at the first of four sessions of education training to become a sport club trainer. The educational program was conducted on four weekends through the youth departement of the sport association (Sportjugend M-V), wich is part of the so called LSB (Landessportspund) in Mecklenburg- Vorpommern, which is one state in North-East-Germany. Three cameras recorded 11 hours of the first weekend. The focus of the observation was at the two leaders of the education training, supervisor 1 and supervisor 2, which teached in the team.


The observation data were triangulated with data of biographical interviews. The triangulated issue and the research question were about the communication and interaction during the educational program, in this case the mutual communication of p.e. supervisors in sport clubs and the communication with the participants of the educational program. The analysis contained a video script and sequential analysis.

1.The first step was to flip through the whole video recordings and prepare a video script.

2.During the second step several sequences were selected to be analysed. The first sequence was always analysed similar to the procedure of Oeverman (1979). The following sequences were chosen to confirm the first found hypothesis. Furthermore, sequences were also selected if it was relevant to the research question or if something was extraordinary. The first observation was done without audio files to get the “physical expression figure” according to Witte and Rosenthal (2007) and to emphasize on the body language. Only in the second step the verbal interaction was observed and written down in the transkript.

The scientific standards of video based observation are:

• fixation of the audio video data (Dilthey, 2006),

• analysis through abduction and experimental thoughts about possible alternatives of action (Rosenthal, 2005)

• analysis in groups of researchers and communicative validity (the results will be given to the supervisor 1).


1.Emancipated leadership in team teaching versus task sharingSupervisor 1 left the social work and the responsibility of the organisational work up to supervisor 2. In the selected sequence (pic. 1-3) he first looked for help to supervisor 2 who also took over the leadership. Later on supervisor 1 avoided eye contact with supervisor 2 and consulted his written timetable. The lack of eye contact shows in this situation that supervisor 1 needed time to think. According to Ekman and Friesen (2003) to look aside is a very common pattern to think.

Pic. 1-3: Supervisor 1 looked for help and supervisor 2 took the leadership over

Pic. 1-3. The interpretation of body language of p.e. upervisorswith video based observation methods

Contenido disponible en el CD Colección Congresos nº 16


This scene was shown the supervisor 1 two months later and he told us, that in this situation he was very discontent with his planning and organisation.

1.Exclusion and inclusion of participants

Supervisor1 avoided eye contact in difficult social situations. He communicated in professional issues and refused to act in social issues. If one participant didn´t show enough attention to the subject of the lesson he punished her with social disregard as seen in one sequence during the Friday evening session. Supervisor 1 was involved in the group process when he was able to talk about his central theme “performance capability” during the lesson on Saturday morning. During the communication with another group participant, a young woman, you can notice a difference between the supervisor’s nonverbal expression and his verbal behaviour. In his answer to her explanation for not participation in this exercise he noticed her apology but his eyes looked to the rest of the group who made some exercises. Unconsciously he excluded with the lack of eye contact the sick young woman as a part of the group like also later in his next actions. The avoiding of eye contact showed that he unconsciously didn´t want to take notice of the weakness of the participant (pic. 4-6).

Pic. 4-6: Supervisor 1 avoided eye contact with the sick participant after her explanation for non-attendance

Pic. 4-6. The interpretation of body language of p.e. upervisorswith video based observation methods

Contenido disponible en el CD Colección Congresos nº 16


The biographical interview shows that selection on the base of the sport performance is a central motive in the supervisor’s biography, although he told, today he cares more about health than performance. He tried not to justify this participant, but he showed in his body language especially his lack of eye contact that he excluded the fact of the weakness of this person: rather not to think about than judge the person consciously.

P.e. supervisor 1 stands between the professional communication in teach-learn situations and the exclusion of participants which can´t or won´t follow him in professional issues.


The results can also be used for the evaluation of the quality of the teach-learn-process. Although this wasn´t intended in the first place the next step will be to give a feedback to the supervisors about the results of their shared leadership. One development task of supervisor 1 will be the field of social skills. In this case avoiding eye contact in difficult situations was one central aspect of the supervisor´s attitude: his action expressed, I´m not interested, but his words said that it´s o.k. not to participate on the program. On the one hand supervisor 1 reflected that sport performance isn´t the priority of the educational program in the sport club on the other hand his own biography showed that he is highly influenced about selection on the base of performance. On this point a fundamental discussion is required focusing on the normative background and the normative hierarchy during the educational program of the sport club teachers.

According to several authors (Kurz, 2000; Ehni, 1977, Balz & Neumann, 2004) it is necessary to have several baselines of standards in physical education at school. In the concept of the pedagogical perspectives six perspectives has been chosen which contain performance, health, social learning, impression, expression and adventure. In contrary to the concept of the pedagogical perspectives which is more or less accepted for physical education at school in Germany, this concept is not the baseline for education in sport clubs. Physical education at school is bound to the general education program which is based on the german basic law whereas the education in sport clubs isn´t. In the youth departments of sport clubs there is first of all one central issue next to others the physical performance. So coaching in sport clubs doesn´t mean the same like teaching physical education at school. In sport clubs the central perspective of the field of sport and movement is focused on the highest performance as baseline.

Nevertheless it is common sense that from a perspective of training in youth sport club there should be a much more variety of sport offers. For example in issues of track-and-field it is quite popular to teach the children also games, to give them the opportunity to make a wide range of experiences. This is also in other sports, but in the end there is always the focus on finding talents, so that from a pedagogical point of view dropout and exclusion are a special issues in sport clubs. In this case it appears a sportpedagogical antinomy of high performance sport versus sport for all children. The education of trainers in the youth department of sport clubs should give special gifted children the opportunity to make their sport to their profession but also give all children the possibility to choose sport and movement as a part of their life, which enriches it. In the case above supervisor 1 has an onesided focus on the the fittest participants, the best sportsmen or sportswomen. As a model for a trainer in youth sport clubs he should learn to open up his point of view to social issues like build up a sport group which held together and issues of interaction. He will succeed when a weaker participant wouldn´t feel excluded through the actions of supervisor 1 like seen above. Also education in sport clubs may have a special attention to performance of singular talented it also has to focus on the quality of life through sport and movement of all children.


During this preliminary study it could be shown how the methodological procedure of Witte and Rosenthal (2005) can be used in educational situations. To explain the communication and interaction during the educational program it is only one point of view to start with one p.e. supervisor. Other possibilities should be found. The combination of video data with data of biographical interviews is based on the fact that the interpretation of the video data should made in close connection to the attitudes of supervisor 1. The analysis of his lived life and his actions in discrepancy to his told life enriches the interpretation of the video data with more knowledge. The methodological procedure will be used in a further study with the subject of children in early education in the kindergarten.


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