‘Change is a journey’: investigating the complex process of educational change within Scottish primary physical education
Carse, Nicola Rhys
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This thesis investigates the experiences of generalist primary teachers, in Scotland, as they instigated curriculum and pedagogical change in physical education. Five primary teachers with an additional qualification in physical education, the Postgraduate Certificate in 3-14 physical education (PGCert), were followed within their school contexts over an academic year. In contrast to much of the preceding literature this research provides empirical work at the micro level on educational change from the perspective of the individual teacher: illuminating the reciprocal relationship between professional learning and educational change. A qualitative, interpretivist approach underpinned the gathering and analysis of data. This approach reflected the focus of the study which was to understand and make sense of the multiple realities, experiences and views of participant teachers evolving from their social, cultural and historical contexts. Data were gathered using semi-structured interviews, unstructured interviews about teachers’ planning and observations of physical education lessons. The theoretical framework that was used to interrogate the data incorporated situated learning theory (Lave and Wenger, 1991), professional learning and educational change literature; in particular the work of Fullan was utilised to explore his concept of ‘change agentry’. The first line of analysis establishes how the participant teachers approached teaching and learning in physical education prior to engaging with the PGCert. Thereafter the PGCert is examined to ascertain how the format and structure of this professional development opportunity came to influence the participant teachers. In the final analysis, an over-view of each teacher’s narrative in regards to their role in the change process is presented, outlining the curricular and pedagogical changes they initiated within their school contexts. Taken together, these findings contribute to research on educational change providing detailed analysis over an extended period of time of the motivating factors, constraints and complex character of change from the perspective of teachers within their individual school contexts. In the present educational climate where teachers are expected to be leaders of curricular and pedagogical change this study provides empirical evidence of teachers exercising their autonomy and integrating professional learning within their practice as they initiate and implement change.