Chris Clark

Date of Award


Degree Type

Thesis - ECU Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Education


School of Education

First Advisor

Professor Dawn Penney

Second Advisor

Associate Professor Andrew Jones

Third Advisor

Dr Rachael Whittle


The Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) Physical Education curriculum, like final “exit” year studies nationally and internationally, has drawn attention from highly regarded academics regarding the challenges faced by teachers in integrating theory with physical activity as prescribed in curriculum documentation. This research aimed to extend on previous study focused on the achievement of integration through learning that occurs in, through, and about movement. A unique overlay was adopted by investigating any influence of gender discourse in this process. Given the non-mandatory nature of the selection of VCE Physical Education as a subject by students, and the articulation within the prescribed curriculum that theoretical understanding will be underpinned by practical based physical activity, it is reasonable to expect that students who select this study enjoy the opportunity to be active. Therefore, this research intended to contribute to current and previous discussion around the use of physical activity to develop and apply theoretical understanding. Additionally, this study set out to contribute new understanding to what, if any, influence gender discourse had on the types of physical activity selected by teachers and how these activities were implemented. This research adopted two separate but closely related theoretical frameworks: Arnold’s dimensions of movement (1979), which underpinned most previous research into the concept of integration, and Wilcox’s embodied ways of knowing (2009). Both frameworks provided guidance on the use of movement in the production of knowledge and its application to conceptual understanding. A qualitative research design involving a case study approach was used. Three independent secondary schools in the inner south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne were involved in two phases of the case study. Phase 1 was a document analysis that involved two VCE Physical Education teachers from each school submitting documentation that pertained to the enactment of the VCE Physical Education Study Design at their school, particularly regarding the use of physical activity in their classes. In Phase 2 the same teachers undertook a semi-structured interview, during which teachers had the opportunity to discuss the submitted documentation and provide perspectives on how they integrated physical activity with theoretical concepts within their pedagogy. Further insight was also sought on the role gender played, if any, during the selection and implementation of physical activity. The findings affirmed previous research that the concept of integration was viewed as important by teachers, however integration was complex to achieve due to various influences and no apparent singularly accepted process. The use of physical activity during the process of enacting the curriculum was also found to be influenced, either directly or indirectly, by gender discourses. A need for further professional learning, policy review, and research were identified as important implications from this study.


Paper Location