Investigating the 'integration of theory and practice' in examination physical education

Document Type

Journal Article




School of Education




Originally published as: Jones, A., & Penney, D. (2018). Investigating the ‘integration of theory and practice’ in examination physical education. European Physical Education Review, 1356336X18791195. Original article available here


This paper presents theoretical insights and empirical findings from research in Western Australia (WA) that explored the concept of ‘integrated theory and practice’ in the context of the introduction of a new examination physical education course. The lack of conceptual clarity associated with attempts to embed ‘integration’ into curriculum developments in examination physical education internationally provided a stimulus for this research. Focusing on a new Physical Education Studies course in WA, the research foregrounded the concept of policy enactment and used Arnold’s framework of learning in, through and about movement as a critical frame to investigate the specific notions of integration that were embedded in the official curriculum text and expressed in pedagogical practices in schools implementing the new course. The paper reports findings from the investigation of the pedagogic meanings that four teachers gave to ‘integrated theory and practice’. The data illustrate the varied meanings teachers gave to ‘integration’ and the differences consequently arising in their curriculum planning, teaching and assessment practices associated with the new Physical Education Studies course. Analysis of the data identified opportunistic, structured and investigative ‘integrated’ pedagogies. Data associated with each approach are presented and the expression of Arnold’s dimensions within each approach explored. Discussion pursues the conditions enabling different pedagogical practices to emerge from the new Physical Education Studies course and the learning opportunities provided to students by the different pedagogical approaches. The paper presents a case for further engagement with the pedagogical expression of Arnold’s framework by curriculum developers, researchers, teacher educators and teachers