Research on Teaching in Physical Education: Beyond the Limits of Natural Science

in Journal of Teaching in Physical Education
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Recent years have seen an increase in the amount of research activity devoted to teaching in physical education. The result of these efforts has been a substantial growth in the body of knowledge regarding movement pedagogy. Most of these undertakings have been completed with the natural science mode of inquiry as the research model. Thus, the natural science research paradigm has emerged as the dominant mode of inquiry and analysis for research on teaching in physical education. In spite of the major contributions made in the engagement of the natural science model, the subscription to a dominant mode of inquiry holds serious consequences in the development of any body of knowledge. The underlying assumptions of a paradigm pose limits to the knowledge to which one has access. Therefore, this paper offers an analysis of the assumptions embedded in the operationalization of the natural science research paradigm in order to illuminate their limitations for research on teaching in physical education. The assumptions of an alternative, qualitative paradigm are also identified and discussed in terms of their potential for researching beyond the limits of the natural science model. It was not the intent of this paper to declare one paradigm superior to any other, but rather to recognize the need for alternative perspectives in researching the phenomenon of teaching physical education.

Request reprints from Paul G. Schempp, Dept. of Physical Education and Human Movement Studies, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403.

Note: The author is indebted to Lawrence F. Locke for his challenging critique and helpful suggestions regarding this article. However, the opinions, errors, and weaknesses remain the responsibility of the author.

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