Title: “Naturally we want the instruction to engage all of the students”:
Didactic choices and gender patterns in the school subject Physical Education and Health
Faculty: Faculty of Social Sciences
Date: Friday 3 December
Place: Room Fullriggaren (Ma135), building Magna, Kalmar
External reviewer: Associate professor Inger Eliasson, Umeå University
Examining committee: Professor Disa Bergnehr, Linnaeus University, Associate professor Krister Hertting, Halmstad University, Professor Ingegerd Tallberg-Broman, Malmö University
Chairperson: Associate professor Katarina Schenker, Department of Sport Science, Faculty of Social Sciences
Main supervisor: Associate professor Katarina Schenker, Department of Sport Science, Faculty of Social Sciences
Co-supervisor: Associate professor Jesper Andreasson, Department of Sport Science, Faculty of Social Sciences
Examiner: Professor Ulla-Karin Nordänger, Department of Education and Teachers' Practice, Faculty of Social Sciences
Spikning: Wednesday 10 November at 11.30 at the University library in Kalmar
This dissertation concerns teachers’ didactic choices and gender patterns in the Swedish school subject of Physical Education and Health (PEH). The study can be described as institutionally ethnographic, rooted in a social constructionist perspective. The purpose of the study is twofold: First, it examines how PEH teachers describe their teaching practices and instruction based on their didactic choices, and the consequences that these choices have in terms of how opportunities for participation is shared among the students. To analyse these findings, the study uses Bernstein’s conceptual framework in combination with elements of systemic functional linguistics. Second, it investigates teachers’ didactic choices in relation to conceptions of gender and how questions relating to gender become relevant in and through their teaching practice and instruction. To interpret what makes it possible for gender patterns to be created and upheld, or questioned and challenged, concepts taken from gender theorising are used.
Data was collected from semi-structured interviews with 14 PEH teachers from 14 secondary schools in Southern Sweden. The interviews were based on observations of the teachers’ teaching practices with a specific focus on their instruction. The results show that teachers’ didactic choices are complex and are in many ways dependent on various factors. The teachers make adaptations and modify their instruction based on unexamined preconceptions, which can be understood based on the cultural and historical context in which PEH have developed. The strong traditions that inform teaching entail unequal sharing of opportunities for participation among the students, which contributes to girls and boys being reproduced as separate gender categories. At the same time, the teachers have a problematising aim, which creates opportunities for inclusive and equitable instruction that challenges gender patterns.
A precondition of the challenging of gender patterns in PEH appeared to exist when the organisation of instructional activities cannot be clearly linked to a certain - gender-coded - sport or activity. Gender patterns can be challenged if the teachers organise their instruction so as not to be based on unexamined preconceptions about a particular group of students. At the same time, it is also essential that there are clear rules when instruction is delivered and that teachers clearly communicate what is expected of the students in the actual teaching situation.
This study shows that instructional practices create the conditions for change in gender patterns in Physical Education and Health, while at the same time, change places high demands on teachers’ didactic choices and how they are conveyed through instruction.
Key words: Physical Education and Health, didactic choices, gender, gender patterns.