“You’re Not Going to Get It Right Every Time”: Teachers’ Perspectives on Giving Voice to Students in Physical Education

in Journal of Teaching in Physical Education
View More View Less
  • 1 University of North Carolina at Greensboro
  • 2 University of Limerick
Restricted access

Purchase article

USD  $24.95

Student 1 year online subscription

USD  $64.00

1 year online subscription

USD  $86.00

Student 2 year online subscription

USD  $122.00

2 year online subscription

USD  $162.00

This paper explored physical education (PE) teachers’ perspectives of giving voice to students to understand how the practice is enacted in lessons at a time of curricular reform. A qualitative comparative case study followed three teachers in a triad of Irish secondary schools, eliciting their experiences of giving voice to students using focus groups, interviews, and a reflection journal. Data were gathered and coded to identify emergent themes. The practices challenged included instruction, teacher control, and teacher–student relationships. The teachers demonstrated the capacity to activate students’ voices and respond, changing the way they perceived and facilitated the practice in PE. Worryingly, teachers made no connection between student voice and learning and assessment in PE and were not forthcoming implementing the practice in high-stakes examination scenarios. Research recognizing and appreciating the challenges and opportunities PE teachers face in attempting to acquire the spirit to do such work espousing reform is important to the field and our students.

Howley is with the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, NC, USA. O’Sullivan is with the University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland.

Howley (dfhowley@uncg.edu) is corresponding author.
  • Baroutsis, A., McGregor, G., & Mills, M. (2016). Pedagogic voice: Student voice in teaching and engagement pedagogies. Pedagogy, Culture & Society, 24, 123140. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Berry, R. (2011). Assessment reforms around the world. In R. Berry& B. Adamson (Eds.), Assessment reform in education: Policy and practice (pp. 89102). London, UK: Springer.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bogdan, R.C., & Biklen, S.K. (1995). Qualitative research for education: An introduction to theory and methods. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Brooker, R., & Macdonald, D. (1999). Did we hear you? Issues of student voice in curriculum innovation. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 31, 8397. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Charteris, J., & Smardon, D. (2018). Student voice in learning: Instrumentalism and tokenism or opportunity for altering the status and positioning of students? Pedagogy, Culture & Society, 27, 305323. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cook-Sather, A. (2006). Sound, presence, and power: Exploring ‘student voice’ in educational research and reform. Curriculum Inquiry, 36, 359390. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cooksey, R., & McDonald, G. (2011). Surviving and thriving in postgraduate research. Prahan, Australia: Tilde University Press.

  • Cothran, D.J. (2010). Students’ curricular values and experiences. In M. O’Sullivan& A. MacPhail (Eds.), Young people’s voices in physical education and youth sport (pp. 4962). New York, NY: Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Creswell, J.W. (1998). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five traditions. London, UK: Sage.

  • Devine, D. (2017). So, how was school today? Report of a survey on how young people are taught and how they learn. Dublin, Ireland: Department of Children & Youth Affairs.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Enright, E., & O’Sullivan, M. (2010). ‘Can I do it in my pyjamas?’ Negotiating a physical education curriculum with teenage girls. European Physical Education Review, 16, 203222. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Enright, E., & O’Sullivan, M. (2012). Physical education “in all sorts of corners” student activists transgressing formal physical education curricular boundaries. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 83, 255267. PubMed ID: 22808711

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Enright, E., & O’Sullivan, M. (2013). “Now, I’m magazine detective the whole time”: Listening and responding to young people’s complex experiences of popular physical culture. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 32, 394418. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Fielding, M. (2004). Transformative approaches to student voice: Theoretical underpinnings, recalcitrant realities. British Educational Research Journal, 30, 295311. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Fielding, M. (2012). Beyond student voice: Patterns of partnership and the demands of deep democracy. Revista de Educación, 359, 4565.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Fisette, J.L. (2013). Are you listening? Adolescent girls voice how they negotiate self-identified barriers to their success and survival in physical education. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 18, 184203. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Fitzpatrick, J., O’Grady, E., & O’Reilly, J. (2018). Promoting student agentic engagement through curriculum: Exploring the negotiated integrated curriculum initiative. Irish Educational Studies, 37, 453473. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Fitzpatrick, K. (2018). What happened to critical pedagogy in physical education? An analysis of key critical work in the field. European Physical Education Review, 25, 11281145. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Fleming, D. (2015). Student voice: An emerging discourse in Irish education policy. International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education, 37, 453473.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Flick, U. (2005). An introduction to qualitative research (2nd ed.). London, UK: Sage.

  • Flynn, P. (2017). The learner voice research study: Embedding student voices in education discourse: Curricular co-construction and development. Dublin, Ireland: NCCA.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gebril, A., & Brown, G. (2014). The effect of high-stakes examination systems on teacher beliefs: Egyptian teachers’ conceptions of assessment. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, 21, 1633.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gibbs, G.R. (2007). Analyzing qualitative data. London, UK: Sage.

  • Glasby, T., & Macdonald, D. (2004). Negotiating the curriculum: Challenging the social relationships in teaching. In J. Wright, D. MacDonald, & L. Burrows (Eds.), Critical inquiry and problem solving in physical education (pp. 133145). London, UK: Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Goodrick, D. (2014). Comparative case studies. Melbourne, Australia: UNICEF, RMIT University.

  • Hargreaves, A., & Moore, S. (2005). Voice, nostalgia, and teachers’ experiences of change. In F. Bodone (Ed.), What difference does research make and for whom? (pp. 129140). New York, NY: Peter Lang.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hastie, P.A., Rudisill, M.E., & Wadsworth, D.D. (2013). Providing students with voice and choice: Lessons from intervention research on autonomy supportive climates in physical education. Sport, Education and Society, 18, 3856. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Howley, D., & Tannehill, D. (2014). “Crazy ideas”: Student involvement in negotiating and implementing the physical education curriculum in the Irish senior cycle. Physical Educator, 71, 391.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kirk, D., & MacDonald, D. (2001). Teacher voice and ownership of curriculum change. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 33, 551567. doi:

  • Lamb, C.A., Oliver, K.L., & Kirk, D. (2018). ‘Go for it Girl’ adolescent girls’ responses to the implementation of an activist approach in a core physical education programme. Sport, Education and Society, 23, 799811. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lamb, P., & Lane, K. (2013). Pupil voice on being gifted and talented in physical education: ‘They think it’s just, like, a weekend sort of thing’. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 18, 150168. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Larsson, H., & Quennerstedt, M. (2016). Same, same but different: (Re)understanding the place of context in physical education practice. Recherches & Éducations, 15, 6986. PubMed ID: 31943018

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Luguetti, C., & Oliver, K.L. (2019). ‘I became a teacher that respects the kids’ voices’: Challenges and facilitators pre-service teachers faced in learning an activist approach. Sport, Education and Society, 25(5), 423435. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lynch, S., & Curtner-Smith, M. (2019): ‘You have to find your slant, your groove:’ One physical education teacher’s efforts to employ transformative pedagogy. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 24, 359372. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MacPhail, A., & Murphy, F. (2017). Too much freedom and autonomy in the enactment of assessment? Assessment in physical education in Ireland. Irish Educational Studies, 36, 237252. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Miles, M.B., & Huberman, A.M. (1994). Qualitative data analysis (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

  • Mitra, D., Serriere, S., & Stoicovy, D. (2012). The role of leaders in enabling student voice. Management in Education, 26, 104112. doi:

  • Mockler, N., & Groundwater-Smith, S. (2015). Engaging with student voice in research, education and community: Beyond legitimation and guardianship. Cham, Switzerland: Springer.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • National Council for Curriculum and Assessment. (2003). Junior cycle physical education. Dublin, Ireland: Author.

  • National Council for Curriculum and Assessment. (2015). Framework for junior cycle. Dublin, Ireland: Author.

  • National Council for Curriculum and Assessment. (2019). Interim report of review of senior cycle education. Dublin, Ireland: Author.

  • Oliver, K.L., & Hamzeh, M. (2010). “The boys won’t let us play:” Fifth-grade Mestizas challenge physical activity discourse at school. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 81, 3851. PubMed ID: 20387397 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Oliver, K.L., Hamzeh, M., & McCaughtry, N. (2009). Girly girls can play games/Las Ninas Pueden Jugar Tambien: Co-creating a curriculum of possibilities with fifth-grade girls. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 28, 90110. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Oliver, K.L., & Kirk, D. (2015). Girls, gender and physical education: An activist approach. London, UK: Routledge.

  • Pearce, T.C., & Wood, B.E. (2019). Education for transformation: An evaluative framework to guide student voice work in schools. Critical Studies in Education, 60, 113130. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rubin, H., & Rubin, I. (1995). Qualitative interviewing: The art of hearing data. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

  • Ruddock, J. (2007). Student voice, student engagement, and school reform. In D. Thiessen& A. Cook-Sather (Eds.), International handbook of student experience in elementary and secondary school (pp. 587610). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Spalding, E., Wilson, A., & Mewborn, D. (2002). Demystifying reflection: A study of pedagogical strategies that encourage reflective journal writing. Teachers College Record, 104, 13931421. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 301 301 44
Full Text Views 27 27 9
PDF Downloads 21 21 6