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Title: The construction and experience of ability in physical education
Author: Croston, Amanda
ISNI:       0000 0004 5364 2875
Awarding Body: Brunel University
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis explores how notions of ability are socially constructed, defined and experienced within physical education (PE). Pierre Bourdieu’s concepts are used to examine the processes through an acknowledgement and consideration of the culture where pupils’ and teachers’ notions of ability are configured, reconfigured, and experienced. The study covered one academic school year in a North London mixed comprehensive school. Fifteen pupils participated in focus groups and individual interviews. The pupils were a mixture of boys (11) and girls (4), a range of abilities and ages (11 – 16 years old), and experienced PE predominantly in ability groups. In addition, six PE teachers were interviewed and PE lesson observations were conducted throughout the study. The findings identify various processes and interactions between individuals and also between individuals and the field that contribute towards the social construction of ability in PE. The findings highlight the complex and dynamic nature of the PE experience where notions of ability and the related practices have a bearing. Hierarchical ability-based practices were apparent that served to reinforce dominant notions of ability but there were other practices that could potentially challenge ‘legitimate’ notions of ability. The study highlights some of the constraints that teachers face in their attempts to integrate broader notions of ability, especially within a performative culture. Variations across the individual experience highlight considerations for pupils in terms of becoming physically literate and reaching their potential. The study aims to raise key questions for stakeholders in considering how ability-based practices work in facilitating a learning environment that supports all levels of ability and preparing all young people for lifelong activity. In addition it stresses the need for greater agreement amongst stakeholders on the purpose of PE in the current climate and suggests that a review of the aims of PE is warranted.
Supervisor: Hills, L.; Kay, T. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Social construction ; Bourdieu ; Young people