The Influence of Occupational Socialization on Physical Education Teachers’ Interpretation and Delivery of Teaching Games for Understanding

  • Nicholas O'Leary

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education (EdD)


Despite sound policy and educative reasons for its adoption, the use of Teaching Games for Understanding (TGfU) (Bunker and Thorpe, 1982, 1986b) amongst Physical Education (PE) teachers remains limited. Previous research has indicated that PE (student) teachers’ past and current experiences influence their interpretation and application of this instructional model. The purposes of this interpretative case study therefore were to (a) examine how PE teachers not formally educated in its use interpreted and delivered TGfU using net games and (b) identify the factors that led to their interpretation and delivery of this model. The participants were three purposefully selected teachers from a Sports Academy in the West Midlands, United Kingdom (UK). Data were collected through formal, stimulated-recall and informal interviews, lesson observation field notes, teacher reflective journals and lesson planners. The theoretical framework used to guide data collection and analysis was occupational socialization¹ (Lawson, 1983a, b). The data was inductively analysed teacher by teacher and then by cross-case analysis (Lincoln and Guba, 1985).Findings showed that the teachers demonstrated differing versions of TGfU based around teaching tactics, techniques and use of social constructivist learning strategies. Themes that influenced the teachers’ interpretations and use of TGfU individually and/or collectively were their knowledge of games; the capabilities and behaviour of their pupils and the influence of past and present colleagues. The original contribution to knowledge of this thesis is that the workplace appears incapable of encouraging the full version of the model to be utilised by teachers not previously educated in its use in the UK, irrespective of the relative simplicity of the game taught and the time frame. It is recommended that teachers receive Continuous Professional Development (CPD) to develop their understanding of the tactical problem-solving nature of games; ensure they have sufficient content knowledge and be able to implement the underpinning learning theory effectively.
Date of Award31 Dec 2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorSusan Martin (Supervisor) & Sam Carr (Supervisor)


  • physical education
  • teaching games for understanding

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