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Doune Macdonald

This study examined the relationship between the sex composition of physical education classes and teacher/pupil interactions. Eighteen Grade 9 or 10 hockey lessons were videotaped and verbal interactions were coded using a modified interactional analysis observation system. All teacher/pupil interactions were classified into one of six categories and the relative frequency of each interactional type was compared as a function of the class composition and the sex of the teacher using nonparametric analyses of contingency. To account for variations in lesson duration, interaction rates were also computed and compared between groups using analysis of variance. The results showed that female teachers gave proportionally more skill based interactions than did male teachers in mixed-sex and in all-girls classes. In mixed-sex classes, boys had a greater proportion of verbal interactions as well as more positive interactions with the teacher than girls did. To gauge the perceptions and attitudes of teachers and students toward stereotyping in physical education, interviews were conducted with the teachers and all pupils completed a standardized 35-item questionnaire. Most girls (90%) did not perceive boys as being favored, but 43% felt that teachers expected boys to perform skills better than girls. A greater percentage of boys (63%) than girls (48.5%) agreed that physical education in schools should be made more important.

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Doune Macdonald and Lisa Hunter

The knowledge, skills, and attitudes manifested in health and physical education school curricula are an arbitrary selection of that which is known and valued at a particular place and time. Bernstein’s (2000) theories of the social construction of knowledge offer a way to better understand the relationship between the production, selection, and reproduction of curricular knowledge. This article overviews contemporary knowledge in the primary field (production) upon which curriculum writers in the recontextualizing field may draw. It highlights tensions in the knowledge generated within the primary field and, using a case of the USA’s National Standards for Physical Education (NASPE), demonstrates how particular discourses become privileged when translated into curriculum documents in the recontextualizing field.

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Doune Macdonald and Ross Brooker

Recent literature suggests that secondary school physical education is in crisis due to uncertainties about focus, status, and accountability. After providing some background discussion to the crises, two curriculum approaches, one current and the other in trial, to secondary physical education in an Australian context are reviewed. Drawing upon empirical research, the various strengths and weaknesses of each approach are highlighted. The paper concludes with proposals that the movement-centered conceptualization of physical education in the trial approach offers a defensible physical education for secondary school students.

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David Kirk and Doune Macdonald

In this paper we argue that a version of situated learning theory, as one component of a broader constructivist theory of learning in physical education, can be integrated with other forms of social constructionist research to provide some new ways of thinking about a range of challenges currently facing physical educators, such as the alienation of many young people from physical education. The paper begins with a brief comment on some uses of the term “constructivism” in the physical activity pedagogy literature, then provides a more detailed outline of some of the key tenets of Lave and Wenger’s (1991) theory of situated learning. We then go on to show how this theory of situated learning can be applied to thinking about the social construction of school physical education, using the example of sport education.

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Doune Macdonald and Richard Tinning

Drawing on evidence from an Australian physical education teacher education (PETE) program, this paper argues that the preparation of physical education teachers implicates PETE in the trend to proletarianize teachers’ work at the same time that national claims for increased professionalization are being made. The core physical education program and its PETE component was characterized by narrow utilitarian, sexist, scientistic, and technicist approaches to the field of physical education. More specifically, the PETE program represented teaching as technical and unproblematic rather than as a critical and intellectual endeavor, and its faculty and students were accorded a subordinate status within the department.

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Louisa A. Webb and Doune Macdonald

In a research project investigating the underrepresentation of women in leadership in physical education within the context of workplace cultures and teachers’ lives and careers, subtle effects of power were found to be influential. This article outlines the analytical framework that was used for the discourse analysis of interviews from this research based on the work of Gore (1998), Wright (2000), and Foucault. Seventeen teachers (7 male and 10 female) were interviewed and the data analyzed through discourse analysis using eight techniques of power described by Gore that are pertinent to educational and physical education settings. These techniques explained the colonization of space by dominant masculinities, the male gaze on female bodies, gendered expectations of behavior and appearance, dominant discourses of male leadership, and exclusion from male-dominated networks that all contributed toward the underrepresentation of women in leadership in physical education.

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Rebecca A. Abbott, Doune Macdonald, Smita Nambiar, and Peter S.W. Davies

Objective measurement of daily steps was used to assess whether children (n = 2,076) in Years 1, 5 and 10 who reported walking to or from school were more active and more likely to reach recommended step targets than those who were driven or took public transport to school. Walking to school was associated with higher school-day steps in older children (16,238 vs 15,275 for Year 5 male p < .05, 13,521 vs 12,502 for Year 5 female p < .01, 12,109 vs 11,373 for Year 10 female p < .05). The proportion of children who met recommended step thresholds was higher in those who walked to school compared with those who took motorized transport, and this was significant for Year 5 females (71.7% vs 54.5%, p < .01). This study suggests that walking to school for older children has potential to contribute significantly to daily activity levels and increases the likelihood of attaining recommended step targets. These data should encourage public policy and those concerned with the built environment to provide and support opportunities for walking to school.

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Natasha Schranz, Tim Olds, Dylan Cliff, Melanie Davern, Lina Engelen, Billie Giles-Corti, Sjaan Gomersall, Louise Hardy, Kylie Hesketh, Andrew Hills, David Lubans, Doune Macdonald, Rona Macniven, Philip Morgan, Tony Okely, Anne-Maree Parish, Ron Plotnikoff, Trevor Shilton, Leon Straker, Anna Timperio, Stewart Trost, Stewart Vella, Jenny Ziviani, and Grant Tomkinson


Like many other countries, Australia is facing an inactivity epidemic. The purpose of the Australian 2014 Physical Activity Report Card initiative was to assess the behaviors, settings, and sources of influences and strategies and investments associated with the physical activity levels of Australian children and youth.


A Research Working Group (RWG) drawn from experts around Australia collaborated to determine key indicators, assess available datasets, and the metrics which should be used to inform grades for each indicator and factors to consider when weighting the data. The RWG then met to evaluate the synthesized data to assign a grade to each indicator.


Overall Physical Activity Levels were assigned a grade of D-. Other physical activity behaviors were also graded as less than average (D to D-), while Organized Sport and Physical Activity Participation was assigned a grade of B-. The nation performed better for settings and sources of influence and Government Strategies and Investments (A- to a C). Four incompletes were assigned due to a lack of representative quality data.


Evidence suggests that physical activity levels of Australian children remain very low, despite moderately supportive social, environmental and regulatory environments. There are clear gaps in the research which need to be filled and consistent data collection methods need to be put into place.