Exploring the Role of Gender in Student Experiences of Middle School Physical Education
Cameron, Nicole E 1990-
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The middle years are “the most critical time of life to foster long-term engagement in physical activity, sport and exercise” (Doolittle, 2016, p.29). School-based physical education is one way to help foster this engagement. However, positive attitudes towards physical education decline from the start of the middle years to the end (Subramanium & Silverman, 2007). Gender differences have been found in levels of enjoyment, participation and perceived competence in middle years physical education, with girls recording lower scores in all categories (Cairney, 2012; Johnson, 2015). Stereotypical assumptions about hegemonic gender in middle years students persist in physical education (Larsson, Quennerstedt, & Öhman, 2014). If we can better understand the role that student gender may play in affective and participatory experiences of physical education, we can effectively tailor programs for middle years students. This study used a feminist ethnography to explore the physical education experiences of students and teachers from one grade five/six class. Unique to this class were their combined physical education classes with a grade-alike French-Immersion class in the same school. Over a three-month period, data was collected through extensive observations of physical education classes, document analysis, interviews and focus groups. The results can be understood through three themes: (i)“Our Class; (ii) Giving it Away; and (iii)“Strong Girls”. Results suggest that the unique structure of middle years where classes remain intact, presents an opportunity for developing classroom cultures that value diverse, safe, and respectful physical education environments. Once these physical education environments have been established, strategies to develop physical literacy may play an important role in creating more equitable participation when it comes to gender, and other marginalized groups. Suggestions for practitioners, such as implementing critical social justice education in their physical education classrooms, are discussed. Implications for future research including activist research are also discussed.
DegreeMaster of Science (M.Sc.)
CommitteeFerguson, Leah; Kowalski, Kent; Kalyn, Brenda; Farthing, Jon
Copyright DateApril 2017