An expansive learning approach to transforming traditional fitness testing in health and physical education: student voice, feelings and hopes

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Whilst the fitness testing debate has become more nuanced over time, the voice that is often absent from discussions is that of students. Located within the ‘big tent’ of critical pedagogy, and using an expansive learning approach that is grounded in cultural historical activity theory, this paper responds to the following research questions: (i) what are Australian Secondary students’ feelings and thoughts toward current fitness testing practices? and (ii) how would they change those fitness testing practices, and why? Data were collected via focus group interviews (n = 48) that utilised participatory arts-based methods. Students from one Secondary College were invited to consider the purpose, outcomes of, and alternatives for fitness testing within HPE. The findings suggest that fitness testing can be a source of anxiety, fear and overwhelm for some students. Findings also suggest that students have the capacity to discover new approaches to fitness testing that are responsive to the students and teachers in their school.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-39
Number of pages16
JournalCurriculum Studies in Health and Physical Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • critical pedagogy
  • expansive learning
  • feelings
  • Fitness testing
  • health and physical education
  • student voice

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