University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Keeping the Faith: a Study of Muslim Schoolgirls’ Identity and Participation in, School-based PE, and Teachers’ Understanding of Students’ Religious Needs.

McGee, J.E. (2011) Keeping the Faith: a Study of Muslim Schoolgirls’ Identity and Participation in, School-based PE, and Teachers’ Understanding of Students’ Religious Needs. PhD thesis, University of Worcester.

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This thesis is an ethnographic case study empirical investigation of a group of Muslim schoolgirls and their PE teachers at two schools in the West Midlands. It examines the issues surrounding their religious and ethnic identity and how this may conflict with participation in school-based PE . The issues raised in the introductory literature on ethnic identity, gender and cultural issues in PE give rise to the over-riding purposes and key aims of the present study. The four main aims are:-
1. To investigate the identity of Muslim schoolgirls.
2. To investigate whether the Muslim female identity impacts upon participation in school-based PE
3. To investigate PE teachers‟ perception of the Muslim female identity and how they meet the needs of female Muslim pupils in PE and school sport
4. To investigate whether the PE teachers use inclusive practices in their lessons.
Social Identity Theory underpinned the study focusing the research analysis and interpretation and aims to explicate the PE experiences by employing a qualitative methodology and in the process generate theory grounded in the data.
The empirical data were gathered over a period of twenty months, mainly by in-depth interviewing of the two sets of respondents, using semi-structured interview schedules. Through forms of triangulation, the research illuminates the same issues from two different perspectives: the pupils and their teachers.
The social categories of ethnicity and religion play a key part in shaping the identity of Muslims schoolgirls. The girls have supportive families whose values are moulded to a large extent by an Islamic ethos. However, the teachers, by-and-large, misunderstand various religious and cultural mores of these pupils‘ and their families.The girls perceive PE as a subject, which allows for freedoms not found elsewhere in the curriculum and they recognise the importance of physical activity. Nevertheless, the study confirms the findings of previous research, which found that issues of kit, fasting during Ramadan and extra-curricular activities posed problems for Muslim pupils;
these are features, which are especially compounded when teachers are not aware of the issues.
The findings exposed the inadequacies of teacher training and the exclusionary nature of traditional physical education settings. It was apparent that although teachers were committed to inclusive practice, in reality the experiences of pupils were more reliant upon the quality of individual teachers. Teachers are effective where they have been trained to teach in multi-ethnic schools and are, therefore, sensitive to the issues involved. Multi-cultural and racism-awareness courses appear to be indispensable for a better understanding of the pupils and making them available to all teachers, regardless of their hierarchical standing, can be advantageous.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the University’s requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
A print version of this thesis is held on Level 4 at the Hive.

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: physical education, PE, school sport, ethnic identity, gender, cultural issues, Muslim schoolgirls
Divisions: College of Health, Life and Environmental Sciences > School of Allied Health and Community
Depositing User: Janet Davidson
Date Deposited: 01 May 2012 15:35
Last Modified: 08 Jun 2021 09:23

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