Teachers as policy actors: co-creating and enacting critical inquiry in secondary health and physical education

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Background: Critical inquiry approaches have been presented as one way of enhancing relevance in school-based education, and there have been calls from academia for its systematic use within health and physical education (HPE). Purpose: This research explored how three Secondary HPE teachers co-constructed and enacted a unit of work (Take Action) that was underpinned by critical inquiry approaches. Drawing on the work of Stephen Ball we focus here on the different ways in which the three teachers interpreted, translated and enacted ‘Take Action’, and negotiated a shift away from the performative pedagogies of traditional HPE. Take Action is a co-constructed, inquiry-based unit of work that sought to provide an alternative to traditional and often exclusive HPE. Data collection and analysis: A participatory action research approach was undertaken. Data were uncovered from qualitative interviews, classroom observations and field notes before, during and after the enactment of Take Action. Data were analysed using the qualitative data analysis software ‘Dedoose’ which facilitated coding. Data were analysed inductively across all sources utilising a constant comparative method. Analyses consisted of three phases of coding: open, axial and selective. Open coding involved the categorisation of data into themes and axial coding considered connections across the themes. Selective coding involved a refining and development of the previously identified themes, and then bringing the themes/codes together to tell a story about the teachers and their perspectives on the enactment of Take Action. Findings: Three teachers co-constructed, translated and enacted Take Action, and whilst some challenges were universal, the process and outcomes unfolded quite differently for each. The two contextual factors that emerged as most influential were: (i) the structural support available for teachers and learners and (ii) the time available for the unit to be enacted, and for the teachers’ philosophies to be challenged and transformed. Take Action was one way of supporting teachers in responding to calls from policy-makers for more critical inquiry in HPE. Interpreting, translating and enacting Take Action challenged how teachers viewed their role in the learning process, the nature of HPE, and the breadth of their pedagogical repertoire. Conclusions: The findings confirm that curriculum and policy are volatile and rarely mobilised as the creator/s intended. They highlight that the ‘fluidity’ of curriculum mobilisation persists, irrespective of whether the teachers have mental ownership over the process and/or are involved in its co-creation. The complexity that accompanies a shift towards ‘alternative’ ways of understanding and teaching HPE, however, means that calls from academia and policy-makers are unlikely to be fruitful unless: (i) there is an appreciation for each teacher's philosophies; (ii) each school culture is fully understood; (iii) the inevitable challenges are viewed as spaces to learn, reflect and move forward; and (iv) support comes in many forms depending on the teacher and the school. The findings confirm that whilst policy creates a particular context, it is the ideologies and histories that permeate teachers’ philosophies and school context that will ultimately dictate the policy process. This is not a problem to be solved but a process which we can learn in, through and about.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-120
Number of pages14
JournalPhysical Education and Sport Pedagogy
Volume22
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2017

Keywords

  • co-creation
  • critical inquiry
  • curriculum
  • HPE
  • mental ownership
  • policy
  • teachers

Cite this

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title = "Teachers as policy actors: co-creating and enacting critical inquiry in secondary health and physical education",
abstract = "Background: Critical inquiry approaches have been presented as one way of enhancing relevance in school-based education, and there have been calls from academia for its systematic use within health and physical education (HPE). Purpose: This research explored how three Secondary HPE teachers co-constructed and enacted a unit of work (Take Action) that was underpinned by critical inquiry approaches. Drawing on the work of Stephen Ball we focus here on the different ways in which the three teachers interpreted, translated and enacted ‘Take Action’, and negotiated a shift away from the performative pedagogies of traditional HPE. Take Action is a co-constructed, inquiry-based unit of work that sought to provide an alternative to traditional and often exclusive HPE. Data collection and analysis: A participatory action research approach was undertaken. Data were uncovered from qualitative interviews, classroom observations and field notes before, during and after the enactment of Take Action. Data were analysed using the qualitative data analysis software ‘Dedoose’ which facilitated coding. Data were analysed inductively across all sources utilising a constant comparative method. Analyses consisted of three phases of coding: open, axial and selective. Open coding involved the categorisation of data into themes and axial coding considered connections across the themes. Selective coding involved a refining and development of the previously identified themes, and then bringing the themes/codes together to tell a story about the teachers and their perspectives on the enactment of Take Action. Findings: Three teachers co-constructed, translated and enacted Take Action, and whilst some challenges were universal, the process and outcomes unfolded quite differently for each. The two contextual factors that emerged as most influential were: (i) the structural support available for teachers and learners and (ii) the time available for the unit to be enacted, and for the teachers’ philosophies to be challenged and transformed. Take Action was one way of supporting teachers in responding to calls from policy-makers for more critical inquiry in HPE. Interpreting, translating and enacting Take Action challenged how teachers viewed their role in the learning process, the nature of HPE, and the breadth of their pedagogical repertoire. Conclusions: The findings confirm that curriculum and policy are volatile and rarely mobilised as the creator/s intended. They highlight that the ‘fluidity’ of curriculum mobilisation persists, irrespective of whether the teachers have mental ownership over the process and/or are involved in its co-creation. The complexity that accompanies a shift towards ‘alternative’ ways of understanding and teaching HPE, however, means that calls from academia and policy-makers are unlikely to be fruitful unless: (i) there is an appreciation for each teacher's philosophies; (ii) each school culture is fully understood; (iii) the inevitable challenges are viewed as spaces to learn, reflect and move forward; and (iv) support comes in many forms depending on the teacher and the school. The findings confirm that whilst policy creates a particular context, it is the ideologies and histories that permeate teachers’ philosophies and school context that will ultimately dictate the policy process. This is not a problem to be solved but a process which we can learn in, through and about.",
keywords = "co-creation, critical inquiry, curriculum, HPE, mental ownership, policy, teachers",
author = "Alfrey, {Laura Georgina} and Justen O'Connor and Ruth Jeanes",
year = "2017",
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N2 - Background: Critical inquiry approaches have been presented as one way of enhancing relevance in school-based education, and there have been calls from academia for its systematic use within health and physical education (HPE). Purpose: This research explored how three Secondary HPE teachers co-constructed and enacted a unit of work (Take Action) that was underpinned by critical inquiry approaches. Drawing on the work of Stephen Ball we focus here on the different ways in which the three teachers interpreted, translated and enacted ‘Take Action’, and negotiated a shift away from the performative pedagogies of traditional HPE. Take Action is a co-constructed, inquiry-based unit of work that sought to provide an alternative to traditional and often exclusive HPE. Data collection and analysis: A participatory action research approach was undertaken. Data were uncovered from qualitative interviews, classroom observations and field notes before, during and after the enactment of Take Action. Data were analysed using the qualitative data analysis software ‘Dedoose’ which facilitated coding. Data were analysed inductively across all sources utilising a constant comparative method. Analyses consisted of three phases of coding: open, axial and selective. Open coding involved the categorisation of data into themes and axial coding considered connections across the themes. Selective coding involved a refining and development of the previously identified themes, and then bringing the themes/codes together to tell a story about the teachers and their perspectives on the enactment of Take Action. Findings: Three teachers co-constructed, translated and enacted Take Action, and whilst some challenges were universal, the process and outcomes unfolded quite differently for each. The two contextual factors that emerged as most influential were: (i) the structural support available for teachers and learners and (ii) the time available for the unit to be enacted, and for the teachers’ philosophies to be challenged and transformed. Take Action was one way of supporting teachers in responding to calls from policy-makers for more critical inquiry in HPE. Interpreting, translating and enacting Take Action challenged how teachers viewed their role in the learning process, the nature of HPE, and the breadth of their pedagogical repertoire. Conclusions: The findings confirm that curriculum and policy are volatile and rarely mobilised as the creator/s intended. They highlight that the ‘fluidity’ of curriculum mobilisation persists, irrespective of whether the teachers have mental ownership over the process and/or are involved in its co-creation. The complexity that accompanies a shift towards ‘alternative’ ways of understanding and teaching HPE, however, means that calls from academia and policy-makers are unlikely to be fruitful unless: (i) there is an appreciation for each teacher's philosophies; (ii) each school culture is fully understood; (iii) the inevitable challenges are viewed as spaces to learn, reflect and move forward; and (iv) support comes in many forms depending on the teacher and the school. The findings confirm that whilst policy creates a particular context, it is the ideologies and histories that permeate teachers’ philosophies and school context that will ultimately dictate the policy process. This is not a problem to be solved but a process which we can learn in, through and about.

AB - Background: Critical inquiry approaches have been presented as one way of enhancing relevance in school-based education, and there have been calls from academia for its systematic use within health and physical education (HPE). Purpose: This research explored how three Secondary HPE teachers co-constructed and enacted a unit of work (Take Action) that was underpinned by critical inquiry approaches. Drawing on the work of Stephen Ball we focus here on the different ways in which the three teachers interpreted, translated and enacted ‘Take Action’, and negotiated a shift away from the performative pedagogies of traditional HPE. Take Action is a co-constructed, inquiry-based unit of work that sought to provide an alternative to traditional and often exclusive HPE. Data collection and analysis: A participatory action research approach was undertaken. Data were uncovered from qualitative interviews, classroom observations and field notes before, during and after the enactment of Take Action. Data were analysed using the qualitative data analysis software ‘Dedoose’ which facilitated coding. Data were analysed inductively across all sources utilising a constant comparative method. Analyses consisted of three phases of coding: open, axial and selective. Open coding involved the categorisation of data into themes and axial coding considered connections across the themes. Selective coding involved a refining and development of the previously identified themes, and then bringing the themes/codes together to tell a story about the teachers and their perspectives on the enactment of Take Action. Findings: Three teachers co-constructed, translated and enacted Take Action, and whilst some challenges were universal, the process and outcomes unfolded quite differently for each. The two contextual factors that emerged as most influential were: (i) the structural support available for teachers and learners and (ii) the time available for the unit to be enacted, and for the teachers’ philosophies to be challenged and transformed. Take Action was one way of supporting teachers in responding to calls from policy-makers for more critical inquiry in HPE. Interpreting, translating and enacting Take Action challenged how teachers viewed their role in the learning process, the nature of HPE, and the breadth of their pedagogical repertoire. Conclusions: The findings confirm that curriculum and policy are volatile and rarely mobilised as the creator/s intended. They highlight that the ‘fluidity’ of curriculum mobilisation persists, irrespective of whether the teachers have mental ownership over the process and/or are involved in its co-creation. The complexity that accompanies a shift towards ‘alternative’ ways of understanding and teaching HPE, however, means that calls from academia and policy-makers are unlikely to be fruitful unless: (i) there is an appreciation for each teacher's philosophies; (ii) each school culture is fully understood; (iii) the inevitable challenges are viewed as spaces to learn, reflect and move forward; and (iv) support comes in many forms depending on the teacher and the school. The findings confirm that whilst policy creates a particular context, it is the ideologies and histories that permeate teachers’ philosophies and school context that will ultimately dictate the policy process. This is not a problem to be solved but a process which we can learn in, through and about.

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