The importance of physical education as a research topic

Physical education plays a part in the lives of almost all children and young people’s education around the world. If the physical education experiences of those young people are to be positive and effective, then we need to know something about how it is taught, who is teaching it, what is being taught and how it can be improved.

In doing so, we can make a contribution to improvements in education, schooling, teaching and learning. Physical education can challenge and inspire. It can lead to life changes in terms of improved health, learning achievements and the development of positive relationships. While traditionally a subject in the curriculum our interests go beyond this to include extra-curricular activities associated with Physical Education such as field trips and sports clubs.

Researchers within the Physical Education Research Forum aim to engage in research that enhances our understanding of what effective teaching and learning is so that current policy, practice and professional development can be improved, challenged and even transformed.

Current policies in many countries around the world, views physical education in both primary and secondary schools as a logical site for the provision of opportunities for children and young people to be physically active. Furthermore, PE teachers are increasingly tasked with the responsibility to educate students about ways to lead a healthy and activity lifestyle. This logic is directly associated with global health concerns about the prevalence of chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease and other major health risks related to sedentary lifestyle and obesity.

PE is associated with health and wellbeing, as a primary site for student engagement in the development of knowledge and understanding of issues related to health. Consequently, researchers within the Physical Education Research Forum aim to better understand this position for PE and what it means for teaching, learning and student experience. Importantly, group members also aim to challenge this position for PE, question the extent to which PE and PE teachers should be responsible for developing students’ physical health, and the extent to which current practice in PE can improve children and young people’s social, emotional and mental health.

Related links

PE Research Digest: Primary Physical Education Blog

Members of Physical Education Research Forum

Study with us: MA Physical Education