This research was conducted to describe the relationship between physical education teachers’ educational theories of action and theories-in-use. The question addressed was, What are the educational theories and practices of physical education teachers, and to what degree do their educational theories guide their professional practices? Data were collected through class observations, formal and informal interviews, vignette interviews, and journals. Data were analyzed inductively. Results suggested that the four teachers in this study held strong and well articulated views about student learning and what constitutes a physically educated student. They agreed that the primary goal of a physical education program was the development of skills. They believed that guided student practice was important for student learning. The selection and implementation of teaching practices demonstrated the teachers’ commitment to gender equity and the needs and abilities of their students. There were only three discrepancies between the participants’ theories of action and their theories-in-use. These related to student independence, student choice of content, and the process of cooperation and negotiation. Otherwise the teachers’ theories-in-use were consistent with their theories of action. The results from this study do not substantiate the notion of a level of discrepancy between teachers’ espoused theories and professional practices as presented in the literature (Argyris & Schon, 1974; Knight & Smith, 1989).
Niki Tsangaridou is with the University of Cyprus, Dept. of Education, P.O. Box 20537, CY-1678 Nicosia, Cyprus; Mary O’Sullivan is with the College of Education, The Ohio State University, 149A Arps Hall, 1945 N. High St., Columbus, OH 43210.