University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Risk-Taking and Professional Development: Physical Education Teachers’ Narratives of Experience

Whitehouse, Kerry (2018) Risk-Taking and Professional Development: Physical Education Teachers’ Narratives of Experience. PhD thesis, University of Worcester.

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This study adopted an interpretive qualitative approach, using narrative inquiry to understand the experiences of early career physical education (PE) teachers who took ‘risks’ during their training year, and who had been teaching in schools. Narrative interviews were conducted with nine PE teachers who had engaged with a Risk-Taking Professional Development Programme (PDP) during their training year and who had been teaching for between two months and five years. Interviews explored the meanings, definitions and influences that participants ascribed to risk taking from their memories of the training year and once they began teaching in schools.

The focus of the study emerged because in my role as a PE teacher trainer, I designed the Risk-Taking PDP to challenge trainee PE teachers to reflect critically upon their teaching and pupil learning and, move beyond their comfortable practices. Inspiration was taken from the Office for Standards in Education outstanding descriptor at that time, to ‘Take risks when trying to make teaching interesting, be able to deal with the unexpected and grab the moment’ (Ofsted, 2008, p. 1). The Risk-Taking PDP became a core component of the PE Teacher Training course in one UK Higher Education Institution (HEI) and was delivered to over 100 PE trainee teachers.

An interpretive analysis located overlapping and interlocking themes which closely represented illuminative epiphanies (Denzin, 2001). Findings revealed that risk-taking became a central component of teachers’ practice during the training year. It encouraged critical reflection and developed trainee confidence. Epiphanic moments experienced by participants highlighted that adaptation, negotiation and resilience formed over time as crucial aspects of risk-taking. Once qualified and teaching in schools, key influences affected PE teachers’ willingness to take risks. These included; performativity measures, time, pupil behaviour and the influence of the subject community. Risk-taking was found to support personal and professional growth and, when influences in schools were positive, engagement with innovation and creativity continued. This led to further growth and learning for both teachers and pupils.

This study provides new knowledge to inform the continuation of the Risk-Taking PDP and offers new insights for PE Initial Teacher Education and Training (ITET) practices. Furthermore, this study reaffirms the views of Clandinin and Connelly (2000) who argue for narrative being a three-dimensional space where temporality, sociality and place (context) influence thinking and learning and also, those of Dewey (1938) where experience and learning is transactional and always in relation to others and the social context. This study proposes a fourth dimension to risk-taking, a visional dimension where teachers visualise an ‘ideal’ situation and, is represented through the abstract conceptualisation of risk-taking holding a four-dimensional metaphorical space. This is represented through a geometrical shape, the Tesseract. This study suggests that the Tesseract Model should be utilised in schools to support early career teacher professional development, build resilience and encourage collaborative engagement in subject communities. Likewise, insights from a methodological approach, of narrative inquiry, that has seen a limited application in the context of PE provides a different and invaluable viewpoint in positioning the researchers’ and participants’ stories centrally.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:

A thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Education (Ed D)
A print version of this thesis is held on Level 4 at the Hive.

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: risk-taking, professional development, physical education, teaching, Risk-Taking Professional Development Programme (PDP), training year, narrative enquiry, Tesseract Model, PE Initial Teacher Education and Training (ITET)
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Divisions: College of Arts, Humanities and Education > School of Education
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Janet Davidson
Date Deposited: 19 Sep 2018 11:21
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2020 17:24

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