Date of Award

2014

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Education

School

School of Education

Faculty

Education and Arts

Abstract

Students’ disengagement from school has been one of the major concerns in educational research (Fredricks, Blumenfeld, & Paris, 2004). According to researchers (Alexander et al., 1997; Finn & National Center for Education Statistics, 1993; Finn & Rock, 1997; Finn & Voelkl, 1993; Fredricks & Blumenfeld et al., 2004) the more disengaged the students are, the more likely they will be to fail academically and ultimately drop out. Although researchers have already identified several risk factors that can influence students’ engagement (Fulton, 2007; Lee & Burkam, 2003; Newmann, 1992), very few studies have explored teachers’ views of this educational issue. The same seems to be the case in Physical Education where the curriculum has been identified as one of the major factors that influences students’ enagagement (Alexander, 2008; Cothran & Ennis, 1998; Garn & Cothran 2006; Rikard & Banville, 2006; Salee, 2000; Supaporn & Griffin, 1998; Smith & Parr, 2007), However, few studies have given voice to teachers in this matter. Thus, this research sought to explore the way Physical Education teachers experience students’ disengagement at the class level and to ascertain their awareness of some of the educational issues addressed in the literature.

This research used a qualitative approach within an interpretivist theoretical framework, studying a total of four public schools and fourteen PE teachers. The data collection was conducted through individual semi-structured interviews which were guided by a theme list and recorded in a digital format. The data analysis consisted of coding the transcripts into different categories, identifying meaningful patterns.

The analysis of the data collected resulted in three main findings. Firstly, results showed that participants failed to recognize some of the factors identified in the literature that typically influence engagement. This compromised their interventions and therefore their ability to re-engage students in PE. Secondly, participants focused their pedagogical adjustments at the lesson level and not at the curriculum level. Thirdly, teachers were more focused on the processes of learning than on learning outcomes themselves. They were aware of their short- and long-term goals but acknowledged that they could not achieve either of them due to a range of factors, including curriculum limitations.

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