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This paper explores the notion of physical self perception in relation to generalist primary teacher initial training and presents findings at the end of the first stage of a three year longitudinal study (2004 2007). A multiple method approach is being used to investigate the relationship between physical self systems and training to teach physical education in the primary school. An initial understanding of physical self is drawn from a review of psychological and sociological literature; a multidimensional model of physical self (Fox, 1990) is viewed alongside the notions of possible and working selves (Markus et al 1986, 1987 and 1990) to provide a social and temporal basis from which a greater understanding of the issues relating to the participants can be developed.

The Physical Self Perception Profile (Fox and Corbin, 1989) was administered to a sample of year one undergraduate students (n=83) at the outset of their programme and emergent themes and issues used as prompts for group (n=24) and individual (n=13) semi structured interviews. Results to date indicate a wide array of physical self perceptions amongst the year one sample and a diverse view of self in the role of physical e mercurial superfly ducator. Signposts for the subsequent stages of the study are provided together with a commentary relating to the dialectical relationship between empirical data and theoretical frameworks.

Despite an investment of 1 billion through the prevailing Physical Education, School Sport and Club Links (PESSCL) strategy (DfES/DCMS, 2003) and a decade of UK Sport policy focused on Youth (Flintoff, 2003), primary physical education (PE) continues to be delivered by teachers who “still go into schools without adequate Initial Teacher Training to teach physical education.” (Baalpe,CCPR, PEAUK, PE ITT Network, 2005, p. 5). Twenty six years ago, Downey (1979) suggested that primary PE was a problematic area. More recent literature has highlighted the paucity of Initial Teacher Training (ITT) in relation to primary trainees needs (see for example, Carney and Armstrong, 1996; Rolfe and Chedzoy, 1997; Carney and Chedzoy, 1998; Armour and Duncombe, 2004).

Prior experiences are thought to be a major influence on student development during ITT (Brumbaugh, 1987). Curtner Smith (1998) identified features of ITT most likely to influence the philosophies of pre service primary teachers (namely shared technical culture amongst the faculty, innovative tendencies, practices based on teacher effectiveness research, encouraging reflective practice) and concurred with Lacey s (1977) contention that, in the absence of such features, workplace factors were prone to lead to a strategic compliance within status quo of practice.

O Bryant, O Sullivan and Raudensky (2000) argued that an improved understanding of student teachers perceptions, values and beliefs relating to PE is valuable to those charged with their socialisation into the profession. The research reported in this paper sets out to better understand psychological dispositions towards PE, the social context in which the student teachers are training, and the effect of mercurial superfly these factors on development of PE teaching behaviour. An initial understanding of physical self perception is drawn from a review of psychological and sociological literature to provide a basis from which a greater understanding of the issues relating to motivation to become effective primary physical educators can be fostered.

Links between self and behaviour

Rogers (1951) saw behaviour as an attempt to maintain consistency of self concept, arguing that individuals could alter the meaning of an experience in their own mind to explain away, or distort a threatening event. Bandura (1977) coined the term self efficacy, a cognitive process through which people construct beliefs about their capacity to perform at a given level. If I accomplish the task at that level, what are the consequences?). Both constructs stem from the projected level of competence that a person expects to bring to a situation, based on previous experiences. Outcome expectancies can provide powerful incentives and disincentives for behaviour (Bandura, 1986; 1996; 1997).

Shilling (1993) asserted that social activity depends on successful amalgamation of self identity and social identity. McDonald and Kirk (1996, p.64) argued that “when an identity embedded in a particular social position is significantly at odds with how an individual sees and feels about themselves, there is a risk of dissonance.” Sparkes, Templin and Schempp (1993) suggested that beginning teachers emerging identities could be undermined by ideological differences between the teachers and their communities.

Shavelson, Hubner and Stanton (1976) developed a structured model of self concept, including sub divisions within academic and non academic categories. Further divisions split academic self concept into subject areas and non academic self concept into social, emotional, and physical self concepts. Fox s (1990) hierarchical model of physical self perception (Figure 1) indicates global self esteem overarching a general physical self worth, which is then further divided into four specific domains: sports competence, attractive body, physical strength and physical condition. This model also includes a filter between each vertical division, enabling an individual to attach more or less perceived importance to a specific element of the construct.

Figure 1. Hierarchical structure of physical self (Fox, 1990)

Markus and Nurius (1986) introduced the notion of possible selves, adding a temporal perspective by describing a view of what one could become, would like to become or is afraid of becoming. This was linked to a working self concept, a continually active array of knowledge about self, triggered by societal factors within which the individual is living. (Markus and Wurf, 1987)

This paper approaches physical self perception from the perspective provided by researchers within both psychological and sociological fields. The view of physical self adopted by the researcher in designing this study is based on the following tenets:

Physical self perceptions have potential for change during the life cycle, and can be affected by a shifting social context, other people and events;

Physical self, like all other self constructs, is viewed as multidimensional;

Domain specific self perceptions can be linked to an individual s motivation to act, set goals and achieve against domain specific criteria;

This paper is based on a study which seeks to develop knowledge and understanding of physical self in the context and process of ITT. Specifically, the study sets out to explore the relationship between trainee teachers physical selves, their perceptions of PE and developing practice as primary physical educators. The concern is with influences that help the trainee primary teacher to create a professional identity, including their own understanding of attitudes, perceptions and concepts (Brownlee, Purdie and Boulton Lewis, 2001). The study sets out to answer the following questions:

Participants were recruited as a voluntary, purposive sample. Participants (n=83) were embarking on a three year (2004 2007) Bachelor of Arts (BA) undergraduate programme in Primary Education leading to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), studying at a Higher Education provider of ITT in the Southeast of the United Kingdom. All students attend a compulsory PE course (22 hours) in their first year. Students can then elect to choose further PE in years two and three of the course The researcher was unknown to the students, does not teach at the institution and is not involved in their academic progression. Access to the cohort was negotiated before the start of the first semester (Autumn 2004), and consent requested from participants at the end of a whole cohort lecture in the first week of the course.

The study was explained verbally to the cohort. Students were not placed under pressure to participate, were free to withdraw from the study or withhold information and anonymity was guaranteed (pseudonyms are used throughout). The initial 83 respondents, aged between 18 and 47 included 6 males, reflect mercurial superfly ing the gender imbalance typical of the primary teaching profession in the United Kingdom (Capita Teachers Pensions, 2004). A degree of natural wastage from the original sample (students leaving the course, not volunteering for on going involvement) was anticipated. From the original sample of 83 participa mercurial superfly nts, 24 took part in group interviews and 13 participated in individual interviews during the first year of the course.

Physical Self Perception and Perceived Importance Profiles

Following a successful small scale pre test of Fox s (1990) Physical Self Perception Profile (PSPP) within the researcher s own institution, this scale was used for the full study. The instrument is theoretically grounded, psychometrically well developed and measures multiple facets of the physical self (Byrne, 1996). The PSPP was chosen because of its original derivation from research on a student population (Biddle and Mutrie, 2001) and the relevance of the four sub domains of the scale to research questions. The PSPP is a thirty item self report instrument, containing questions relevant to sports competence, body attractiveness, perceived strength and physical condition plus a global perception of Physical Self Worth (PSW).

In using the PSPP, it was the researcher s intention to capture a snapshot of student physical self perception at the outset of the course and to gather descriptive data to inform the on going design and method of investigation. The intention was to identify trends, themes and patterns warranting further investigation through qualitative methods. Particular focus for discussion was placed on questions within the sports competence, sub domain, having particular relevance in relation to physical education and school sport. (1990) The Physical Self Perception Profile Manual. DeKalb, IL: Office for Health Promotion, Northern Illinois University

On completion of the PSPP, respondents were asked to complete an accompanying Perceived Importance Profile (PIP). The PIP contains eight further questions, two in each of the four sub domains in Fox s (1990) hierarchical model. The eight extra questions were not expected to take a great deal of time and are phrased in the same fashion as the statements in the PSPP, aiding ease of response.

The PSPP and PIP results were a point of cross referencing and referral throughout the interpretive analysis of interview transcripts and were used to check meaning, researcher understanding of participants viewpoints, and to monitor the characteristics of the reducing size of the voluntary sample as the study progressed.

Semi structured interviews were used to allow researcher and participants to engage in a dialogue to “obtain descriptions of the lived world of the interviewees with respect to interpretations of the meaning of the described phenomena” (Kvale, 1996, p.30). In designing a schedule for semi structured interviews, the researcher outlined a shopping list of topics, but maintained flexibility with regard to sequencing of probes, wording and time allocated to specific questions (Robson, 2002, p.278). Group interviews (n=24) initially took place to generate a wide range of responses (Lewis, 1992) and to gain an insight into what might be useful in later individual interviews (Bogdan and Biklen, 1992). It was anticipated that some participants would find it difficult to voice personal issues in such a context (Watts and Ebbutt, 1987) and researcher note making provided reference points for specific follow up questions. A series of individual semi structured interviews (n=13) was conducted during the spring 2005 semester. Each interview lasted between 45 and 80 minutes, was digitally recorded and fully transcribed.

Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was used as a framework for analysis of transcripts. IPA has largely been used in qualitative psychology and is committed to respondents as “cognitive, linguistic, affective and physical beings.” (Smith and Osborn, 2003, p. 52). Analysis took place in three stages, as appropriate for the sequential nature of interviewing. Each interview transcript was read several times, whilst listening to the recording, allowing notes to be made on the transcript to highlight interesting and significant issues. These notes included initial interpretations, comments and summaries. The right hand margin was used to note emerging themes and categories. A list of themes was produced, clustered and checked against the original transcript and accompanying notes. This process was repeated for each transcript and themes identified in each case used to inform the analysis of the subsequent case. Following the identification of recurring patterns and issues in each case, a master list of themes for all respondents was produced.

A wide range of scores was evident across all four specific sub domains and in physical self worth (PSW). PSW scores (Figure 2), ranged from the lowest possible 6 (where three respondents indicated a rating of one for each of six statements) through to a highest rating of 21 (two respondents). No students indicated the maximum possible rating (24) for PSW. Forty eight respondents (57.8%) scored in the range of 6 to 12. This range was taken to indicate a negative view of PSW. Scores in this range were achieved by ticking predominantly negative statements offered within the questions, providing a numeric response of either 1 or 2.

SPORT showed the highest group mean score, yet the mode value (11) was still within the negative range , with over 55% of respondents grouped in the range of scores 6 12. . The data within this sub domain in particular, and in all sub domains in general, appears to have been skewed by the small number (6) of males in the group (Table 2). Mean values for males in each category were all in excess of 15, with SPORT indicating the highest of the sub group means. The male sub group means are all seen to be in the positive range of scores and are in excess of female sub group means. The widest discrepancy occurs between males and females in the BODY satisfaction sub domain where the female only sub group achieved its lowest rating. The highest mean for the female sub group was within STRENGTH, whilst this sub domain was the lowest scoring in the male groups.

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