«LEARNING TO TEACH PHYSICAL EDUCATION IN PRIMARY SCHOOLS: THE INFLUENCE OF DISPOSITIONS AND EXTERNAL STRUCTURES ON PRACTICE by Ian Pickup, BA (QTS) A ...»
Data Analysis As discussed in the first section of this chapter, philosophical and methodological decisions led to a flexible research design, centred on, but not solely reliant on, the use of qualitative methods. Data collection methods which centred on the use of the PSPP and PIP and semi structured interviews produced data requiring specific approaches to analysis. Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was used as an organisational framework for analysing data. IPA has largely been used in qualitative psychology, yet has gained in popularity across a range of disciplines (see for example, Mann & Abraham, 2006; Clare, 2003; Smith, 1994).
IPA is committed to respondents as ‘cognitive, linguistic, affective and physical beings’ (Smith & Osborn, 2003, p. 52) and is concerned with the ‘subjective conscious experiences of individuals’ (Eatough, Smith & Shaw, 2008, p.1771). IPA enables exploration of participants’ thoughts and interpretations, as well as their ‘raw’ experiences (Reynolds & Prior, 2003) and accepts cultural and situational influences on accounts (Caelli, 2000). This was deemed particularly relevant given the desire to take full account of both structural and individual factors.
The ideographic emphasis of IPA was considered to complement the aims of this investigation; the use of IPA has typically been for research with small sample sizes, usually in the range of between one and thirty (Eatough & Smith, 2008). IPA is concerned with investigating ‘the subjects’ perspectives of their world... to grasp the qualitative diversity of their experiences and to explicate their essential meanings’ (Kvale, 1996, p. 53). IPA also acknowledges that such investigation brings into play the researcher’s own view of the world (Willig, 2001), necessitating an awareness of possible ‘researcher’ influence on the process of interpretation in keeping with a reflexive approach (Mays & Pope, 2000). The analytical process is described as a dual process in which ‘the participants are trying to make sense of their world; the researcher is trying to make sense of the participants trying to make sense of their world’ (Smith & Osborn, 2003, p. 51). IPA is a published sequence of analysis, the ‘mechanics’ of which are similar to that found in many forms of qualitative research. Rather than being prescriptive, IPA offers a flexible set of guidelines that can be adapted by individual researchers in light of their research aims (Smith & Osborn, 2003). The central technique of IPA lies in descriptive coding of data which leads to the presentation of organisational themes.
Adopting IPA as a framework for analysis enabled me to become fully immersed in the data.
Each transcript was read through several times and then notes made on the transcript in the left hand margin. The notes highlighted any aspect of the dialogue which appeared significant to the research questions. Each re-reading of the transcript resulted in me becoming more ‘wrapped up in the data, becoming more responsive to what is being said’ (Eatough, Smith & Shaw, 2008, p. 1773). The right hand margin of each transcript was then used to note specific themes and concepts which related a participant’s responses to wider theory and contextual factors. Each reading of an interview transcript took place in tandem with a re-listening to the recording and simultaneous reference to field notes made at the time of the interview. Course documentation was also analysed using this framework, with the location and status of PE within course (and school-based) requirements and standard documentation identified and linked to the emerging themes. As Eatough, Smith and Shaw (2008, p. 1773) suggest, the early stages of analysis was ‘thorough and painstaking’, the same process completed for each successive interview transcript produced across the three years of study. As each successive transcript was analysed in this way, themes were developed, extended and organised and participants asked for their opinion (during subsequent interviews) as to whether the emerging themes were an accurate representation of their experiences. The analysis process was thus iterative and themes were constantly revisited, clarified and refined. Examples from across the three stages are included in appendix 7, together with the master list of themes confirmed at the end of the analysis process (appendix 11). The data samples included in the appendix are presented in word format, reproduced from printed hard copies which were originally written on in hand, highlighted with coloured pens and cut into pieces for the purposes of grouping the themes during the course of the analysis process.
Connections between preliminary themes were established and themes were clustered under broad headings; following Smith’s (2004) suggestion, I ‘imagined a magnet with some of the themes pulling others in and helping to make sense of them’ (p. 71). In the final stage of analysis, completed once all interview transcripts had been reviewed, a list was produced to
show the clustering of themes. This final list of themes (appendix 11) is:
the outcome of an iterative process in which he or she (the researcher) has moved back and forth between the various analytic stages ensuring that the integrity of what the participant said has been preserved as much as possible’ (Etough, Smith & Shaw, 2008, p. 1774).
The themes produced in this way were then included within the subsequent discussion of results and the development of a model to represent the phenomena at large.
Developing a typology The methods described above yielded a range of data from which key themes were identified in response to the research questions. However, as a stated aim of the research is to make suggestions of value to those charged with trainee primary teachers’ development and socialisation into the profession, I decided that a diagrammatic representation of findings should also be developed. The development of typologies, classifications and taxonomies, however, has a number of limitations, generally summarised as being too constraining or prescriptive (Jay & Johnson, 2002). Typologies may have the potential for ignoring the dynamic nature of identity, the potential for oversimplifying complex phenomena and mask difficulties in applying common rules to a diverse range of individuals. However, I felt that a range of positive outcomes could be gained from the development of such a representation, although the need to illustrate the phenomena as dynamic and fluid was also accepted. A typology that relates to trainee primary teachers’ learning needs was perceived to have practical value to trainee primary teachers themselves (to aid reflection), to teacher educators (to promote understanding of learning needs and identify issues pertinent to course design) and school-based mentors (to promote understanding of professional learning needs and to highlight practical implications relevant to school settings). The development of such a classification was also used within the final stage of analysis in which the respondents were presented with a draft typology (appendix 12) and asked to provide feedback on the model, supporting validation of findings. It is also suggested that the development of a typology offers scope for extending research in the future, for testing the model in different training contexts, within different subjects and as a teaching and learning tool to aid within-course reflection.
The use of typologies has been prevalent in empirical social sciences for some time, yet the systematic and transparent construction of such classifications is rarely explicated or systemised (Kluge, 2000). Although typologies have been constructed to explain complex social realities in educational settings (Moos 1978; Brekelmans, Levy & Rodriguez., 1993;
Tunstall & Gipps, 1996; Hess, 1999; Rickards, den Brok & Fisher, 2005) there appears to be little common ground in the approaches taken to derive the respective typologies. The development of a typology in this investigation was a direct consequence of the comprehensive data treatment that took place using IPA and descriptive analysis of quantitative data. In order to develop the typology systematically, Kluge’s (2000) model of empirically grounded typology construction was adopted. Relevant analysing dimensions were produced through the IPA process described above. All potential combinations of such dimensions were considered in relation to each trainee within the interview sample and the number of potential types, based on the combinations of attributes most prevalent was identified. The trainee teachers were divided into groups in relation to the data collated under the emerging themes; participants were allotted to each emerging category or ‘type’ as they shared a number of attributes (cf. Bailey 1994) and were also defined strongly by clear differences within the range of attributes. The discussion of results provided in chapters 5, 6 and 7 utilises the typology as a central theme from which implications for practice are drawn;
this classification of trainee teachers is illustrated as an outcome of the structure-dispositionpractice schema discussed earlier in this chapter which is represented diagrammatically as a set of dials. The typology is a constituent component of this model.
Summary This chapter has demonstrated how the philosophical positioning of the research, together with the literature review and formulation of research questions has impacted upon research design and the specific methods utilised for data collection and analysis. The research has been designed in full awareness of wider epistemological and methodological discussion; however, rather than attempt to solve such philosophical debate, my intention has been to create a research framework through which full consideration of all phenomena which impact on the development of trainee primary teachers as teachers of PE can be enabled. The review of social theories has pointed to the need to consider both structural and individual factors and, in designing a research framework that achieves this it is hoped that new, deeper levels of understanding can be developed.
The research questions therefore focus on the relationship between individual trainee factors and the wider context within ITT and education. The use of a flexible research design, incorporating quantitative and qualitative methods was intended to enable the development of a full account of trainee teachers’ experiences and emerging practices within PEITT. The results, discussed in detail in the following three chapters, provide a full, reliable and authentic account of the phenomena at large and suggest significant implications for trainees, those working in their support, and policy makers. Chapter 5 presents the results in relation to the first research question, focused on trainee teacher dispositions towards PE and sport.
TRAINEE PRIMARY TEACHER DISPOSITIONS TOWARDS PEIntroduction This chapter presents and discusses the results of data collection and analysis in relation to the
first research question:
What are the dispositions of trainee primary teachers in relation to PE and how are these dispositions animated by the properties and processes of ITT?
The key themes for discussion in this chapter have been identified from the statistical analysis of quantitative data (the PSPP and PIP) and IPA of qualitative data derived from semi structured interviews. This research question led me to view the issues under investigation from the perspective of the individual trainee teacher; personal dispositions are described in relation to properties and processes within ITT, using specific examples to illustrate the interplay between structures, disposition and practice.
The trainee primary teachers who participated in this study demonstrated a wide range of dispositions towards PE. The findings contrast with those earlier studies (discussed in chapter
3) which suggested that most primary teachers enter the profession with low levels of confidence to teach the subject (Saunders, 1975; Carney and Chedzoy, 1998; Katene et al., 2000; Portman (1996) and Xiang et al., 2002). The results support the views of Morgan and Bourke (2005) and Garret and Wrench (2007) who suggest that a wide range of life experiences, dispositions and social influences combine to produce an equally wide range of ITT needs amongst the cohort of trainee primary teachers. Although it is evident that some trainees hold negative attitudes towards PE, this study identifies a wide ranging, complex and highly individualised set of dispositions. As described in more detail later in this chapter, a high proportion of trainee teachers in the sample exhibited a negative physical self-perception;
some trainees perceived themselves as possessing low levels of competence in sport whilst some did not perceive sport to be particularly important. Whilst a small number of trainees were very positively disposed towards PE and sport, others appeared more ambivalent. The ‘sum of the parts’ making up such views is unique to each individual, yet although generalisation across the sample has the potential to detract from a full understanding of the phenomena at large, patterns and trends are useful when considering the implications of the findings for practice. This chapter will discuss trainee primary teacher dispositions towards PE and sport and the determinants of these viewpoints, and explore the ways in which these dispositions are animated throughout the ITT process.
Dispositions towards PE and sport Data collected through the PSPP and PIP provided insights into trainee teachers’ dispositions towards PE and sport at the outset of the investigation. The trainees achieved a wide range of scores across all four sub-domains of the PSPP (namely, ‘sport’, ‘body’, ‘strength’, and ‘condition’) and in ‘general physical self-worth’ (PSW). Descriptive statistical analysis identified patterns and trends that were shared by participants, although the trainee primary teachers in the group did not exhibit one universally shared set of physical self perceptions;
participants achieved a wide range of scores in all aspects of the profiles. Overall, physical self worth (PSW) scores ranged from the lowest possible (a score of 6, where three participants indicated the lowest possible rating of 1 for each of six statements) through to a highest rating of 21 (by two participants). No trainees indicated the maximum possible rating (24) for PSW.