NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ892750
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Jul
Pages: 15
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 36
ISSN: ISSN-1740-8989
The Gendering of Abilities in Senior PE
Hay, Peter J.; Macdonald, Doune
Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, v15 n3 p271-285 Jul 2010
Background: Ability is a foundational concept in education. For example, one's perspective of the nature of ability influences how one conceives of the educability and achievement potential of students. However, ability has generally been under-theorised in physical education (PE), particularly in relation to gender. Moreover, default assumptions about ability have tended to draw on traditional conceptions in which ability is viewed as an inherited capacity fulfilled to a lesser or greater extent depending on the opportunities for expression. Purpose: This paper draws on a conception of ability proposed by Evans to challenge traditional conceptions and explain how the discursive conditions of PE "fields" contributed to the construction of gendered abilities in Queensland Senior PE at two demographically distinct schools. Research design: Data are from semi-structured interviews with, and participant observations of, teachers and students at two secondary school sites: one, a low socioeconomic, government school and the other an "elite", co-educational private school. One teacher and six year 11 students from each school, identified in three ability categories by their teachers, were interviewed at five junctures and observed weekly across 20 weeks of the school year. Data analysis: Interview and observation data were systematically coded and analysed within a post-structuralist paradigm to focus on the discursive resources that particular individuals drew on to understand others, and the social and cultural consequences, in terms of power and positioning, of this constitution for students' abilities in PE. Findings: Teachers' and students' values, beliefs and expectations operating in the PE fields of both schools established discursive conditions that gave meaning to the embodied dispositions of students in terms of gendered abilities. The teachers and students consistently perceived differences in the nature of male and female abilities in Senior PE which influenced both the access of students to sites for recognition of ability and the construction of their abilities in these contexts. Conclusion: While awareness of the potential marginalization of girls' engagement in PE has increased, the expectations and practices of social fields as well as the adherence to traditional and popular conceptions of ability may continue to have discriminatory effects on the learning and achievement potential of girls in PE. (Contains 2 tables and 1 note.)
Routledge. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Australia