Narrative analysis uses stories to describe human experience and action Because people give meaning to their lives through the stories they tell, it seems appropriate for those who study human experience to use a research methodology that connects with how people construct the meanings of life experiences. Thus, if the interest is in telling the stories of physical education students, teachers, and classrooms, a methodology is needed that captures how people interpret the meanings of life experiences. Narrative analysis is such a methodology. This article begins with three fictionalized adolescents’ stories. With the stories as an entry point, the power of narrative is examined, followed by an explanation of the different types of narrative inquiry. Next, the mechanics of configuring a narrative are discussed, and the article concludes with illustrations of the need for narrative analysis in physical education research.
Kimberly L. Oliver
Kimberly L. Oliver and Rosary Lalik
Drawing on poststructuralism and related theoretical perspectives, we worked in girls’ physical education classes to examine the development and implementation of a curriculum strand focusing on girls’ bodies. The purpose was to help adolescent girls name the discourses that shape their lives and regulate their bodies. We asked two major questions: What were the major tasks actually used during the enactment of the curriculum strand? and: What issues and concerns emerged for us as we enacted the strand and how did we respond? This study took place in a 7th–12th grade rural high school in the southern United States. We collected data during the 2000–2001 school year in three girls’ physical education classes. We conducted 14 sessions for each class and analyzed our data using the constant comparison method. Several issues emerged including: making the curriculum meaningful, offsetting task difficulties, sustaining ethical relationships, and lessening interference of research culture.
Kimberly L. Oliver, Manal Hamzeh and Nate McCaughtry
Drawing on feminist, poststructural, and critical theories, the purpose of this research was to understand 5th-grade girls’ self-identified barriers to physical activity and work with them to find ways of negotiating those barriers in order to increase their physical activity opportunities. We worked with 11 girls in two elementary schools in southwestern United States. Data were collected over the 2005–2006 school year. Data sources included (a) 23 transcribed audio recordings, (b) field notes, (c) planning notes, (d) task sheets, (e) artifacts created by the girls and the principal investigator, and (f) photos the girls took. Our interpretations are presented in two sections. First, the girls explained that being a “girly girl” hindered their activity participation because a “girly girl” does not want to “sweat,” “mess up her hair and nails,” “mess up her nice clothes,” and sometimes wears “flip-flops.” Second, we discuss how we and the girls created a curriculum of possibilities that culminated in developing a book of physical activities that girly girls would enjoy.
Nate McCaughtry, Kimberly L. Oliver, Suzanna Rocco Dillon and Jeffrey J. Martin
We used cognitive developmental theory to examine teachers’ perspectives on the use of pedometers in physical education. Twenty-six elementary physical education teachers participating in long-term professional development were observed and interviewed twice over 6 months as they learned to incorporate pedometers into their teaching. Data were analyzed via constant comparison. The teachers reported four significant shifts in their thinking and values regarding pedometers. First, at the beginning, the teachers predicted they would encounter few implementation challenges that they would not be able to overcome, but, after prolonged use, they voiced several limitations to implementing pedometers in physical education. Second, they anticipated that pedometers would motivate primarily higher skilled students, but found that lesser skilled students connected with them more. Third, they moved from thinking they could use pedometers to teach almost any content to explaining four areas of content that pedometers are best suited to assist in teaching. Last, they shifted from seeing pedometers as potential accountability tools for student learning and their teaching to identifying key limitations to using pedometers for assessment. Our discussion centers on connecting these findings to teacher learning and professional development, and on the implications for teacher educators and professional development specialists advocating pedometers in physical education.