Deakin University

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Exploring pre-service teachers’ experience of sport education as an approach to transition pedagogy

journal contribution
posted on 2018-01-01, 00:00 authored by Amanda MooneyAmanda Mooney, Kate MoncrieffKate Moncrieff, Chris HickeyChris Hickey
Background: As with any period of transition, the induction into a university degree in Physical Education and Sport studies can be a daunting encounter for many students. In recognition of this, increased attention is directed to specific institutional practices that might support students during this phase. Indeed, improving the first-year experience of beginning university students has been identified as a crucial predictor of continuing enrolment. In Australia, student retention rates have improved markedly since 2006, when almost one-third of higher education students did not complete their degrees [Department of Education and Training. 2016. “Selected Higher Education Statistics – Time Series Data and Publications.” Australian Government. Accessed May 5.] Amidst strong political agendas that call for system-wide deregulation and university funding reforms, student retention has surged in priority. Creating the environment and conditions that nurture a student’s sense of belonging as early as possible is considered integral to successful transition pedagogy. In other university contexts, Sport Education has been reported to have a positive impact on group cohesion and engagement, yet little research has examined how the pedagogic work of Sport Education produces knowledge about ‘fitting in’ or belonging, and the wider implications this might have for pre-service teachers’ (PSTs) emerging pedagogical practice. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore pre-service health and physical education (HPE) teachers’ experiences of a Sport Education unit that was strategically designed and placed to support their transition into an initial teacher education degree in Health and Physical Education and to consider how these experiences shaped perceptions of belonging and pedagogical practice. Participants and research context: Drawing on a narrative research methodology, this research was conducted at a metropolitan university in Victoria, Australia, and sought to explore the first-year transition experiences of 10 HPE PSTs. Participants were purposively selected from across the degree program on the basis that they had participated in the Sport Education unit in the first year of their course. Data collection and analysis: Data were collected through semi-structured interviews, participant observations (field notes) and student evaluation data about their participation in this unit. Each participant engaged in a digitally recorded interview of up to 60 minutes in duration, later transcribed verbatim. This paper specifically reports on the narratives of three participants whose individual backgrounds had potential to predispose them to transition issues. Data were analysed using critical discourse analysis that specifically sought to identify discourse–power relations that shaped participants’ perceptions of ‘fitting in’. Findings: Despite the perceived homogeneity of HPE PSTs, diversity in terms of their backgrounds and biographies exists that can impact on their perceptions about belonging and ‘fitting in’ at the university. This research highlights the importance of transition pedagogies that are embedded within curricula in ways that are relevant for HPE teachers for their capacity to contribute to a sense of belonging and connectedness. Furthermore, the findings demonstrate specific pedagogical features that, for these participants, were integral to inclusive, engaging and positive first-year experiences and raises questions about practices that potentially reinforce marginality through various workings of power in HPE teacher preparation programs.



Physical education and sport pedagogy






Abingdon, Eng.







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2018, Association for Physical Education




Taylor & Francis