Professor John Sproule

Personal Chair of Physical Education


John, previously the Head of the Institute for Sport, Physical Education & Health Sciences, an experienced doctoral supervisor, started his career teaching Physical Education (PE) for almost 15 years in UK comprehensive schools and overseas, including HOD.  He then worked on a British Council/Loughborough University/Ministry of Education(Singapore)  project to introduce specialist teaching of PE in Singapore for 10 years. Following this John led the largest undergraduate PE programme in the UK. Examples of consultancies include: International education PE curriculum development & assessment; coach education, and heat acclimation consultant for elite sportspeople. He is an active researcher who continues to teach both practical and theory courses to both undergraduate and postgraduate students and supervise doctoral students. John believes that university leaders in ITE PE should have previously had a considerable number of years experience as a full-time PE teacher actually teaching PE to children in schools, because nothing will ever come close to actually teaching children as a means of learning our craft. Drawing on De Motu Cordis (1628) I profess that PE should be taught neither from books nor from the tenets of philosophers, but from authentic teaching experiences that are not 'the blink of an eye'.


  • BEd (Hons) Physical Education (Scottish School of Physical Education)
  • MSc in Physical Education & Sports Science (Loughborough University)
  • PhD in Exercise Physiology (Loughborough University)

Undergraduate teaching

  • MA (Hons) PE practicum supervision
  • Edinburgh Medical School SSC5A research project supervision
  • Dissertation supervision for Sports Science Medicine  (BMedSci Hons Intercalated) SSC5A
  • PGDE PE 


Postgraduate teaching

  • Paediatric factors in sport
  • Coaching children
  • Environmental Physiology
  • Dissertation supervision (UG, PGT, PGR)
  • Practicum supervision

John would be very interested in supervising PE teachers  who may be considering studying for our MSc by Research whilst continuing to teach full time in schools.

Areas of interest for supervision

I will consider supervising PhD projects in: physical education curriculum; motivation & self-regulation; coach education.

Current PhD students supervised

  • Wendy Timmons- Hypermobility in young athletes
  • Andrew Murray- Human performance and recovery in youth populations
  • Heini Lopponen- Effects of yoga and pranayamic breathing on the well-being of school children
  • Zhao Cam- Unilateral resistance training in an adolescent population
  • John Widdowson - Transferring life experience in the sporting environment
  • Sadam Altwassi - Examination of the nature of talent development environment within a Jordanian context. In collaboration With Assoc Prof Russell Martindale and Dr George Andronikos (both at Napier University).

Past PhD students supervised

  • Stewart Ollis-'Constructivist Expertise: a critical ecological and micro developmental perspective on developing talent'. (Funded by the Scottish Target Shooting Federation).
  • Christine Nash- Relative practice as a tool for developing sport coaching expertise
  • Shirley Gray- Team invasion games within the Scottish PE curriculum: Rhetoric, reality and implications for practice
  • Rosemary Mulholland- Stress in trainee teachers
  • Neil Potts- An investigation into the influence of learning strategy on the acquisition of the Olympic weightlifting clean
  • Geoff Platt- Strength training as an intervention for children with DCD
  • Danielle Bryant- Teacher stress, learned optimism and coping strategies
  • Shaun Phillips- The influence of carbohydrate supplementation on endurance capacity, sprint performance, and physiological responses to adolescent team games players to prolonged, high-intensity intermittent exercise
  • Mike Jess- Complexity theory and curriculum development
  • Anne Martin- Cognitive skills in overweight/obese preschool children
  • Julie Moote- Self-regulated learning
  • Steve Banks- Contextual interference and learning to kayak
  • Edward Hall- The coaching process - ethnography of apex women's rugby union
  • Steve Banks- Distal and proximal attentional focus effects on the performanceof closed and open continuous motor skills
  • Mark Sanderson- Whole body vibration: Stimulus Characteristics and Acute Neuromuscular Responses
  • Samir Qasan- The effect of martial arts practice on self-esteem in people with visual impairment
  • Ray Bobrownicki- The efficacy of alternative sources of information to promote gross motor function in adolescents: Options available to physical educators

Research summary

  • PE curriculum
  • PE pedagogy
  • Motivation in PE
  • Coach Education

Examples of recent conference:

  • 2018 International Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity (ISBNPA).Physical  activity, diet and other behavioural interventions for improving cognition and school achievement in children and adolescents with obesity or overweight. Hong Kong, 3-6 June.
  • 2018 International Association for Physical Education in Higher Education (AIESEP). Transformational Teaching: Do student teachers in Scotland have an effect on the pupils they teach? Edinburgh, 25-28 July.
  • 2018 European College of Sport Science (ECSS). The influence of external loading on acceleration and electromyography activity during whole body vibration of varying frequencies. Dublin, 4-7 July.
  • 2016 What do sport coaches know about recovery? Symposium: Recovery and Performance, 21st-23rdSeptember, Burghausen, Bavaria, Germany.
  • 2016 Self-regulated learning in Physical Education. ASEAN Council of Physical Education and Sport (ACPES) Conference, 2nd-5thSeptember, Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines.
  • 2016 Self-regulated learning in PE and Sport Pedagogy. International Sports Teaching Symposium (ISTS), 2nd-5thAugust, Taipei, Taiwan.
  • 2015 Attitudes & practices of recovery in adolescent Asian athletes. ECSS Malmo 20th annual congress of the European College of Sport Science, 24-27th June, Malmo, Sweden.
  • 2015 "In class I'm ignored and I think it is to do with my body weight". Experiences of obese adolescent girls at school. 1st Leipzig International Meeting for Interdisciplinary Obesity Research, 6-10th September, Lepzig, Germany.
  • 2015 External focus distance and level of expertise in kayak sprinting. NASPSPA, June 4-7th, Portland, Oregon, USA.
  • 2013 The effect of karate practice on self-esteem in blind adolescents: a case study. 19th InternationalSymposium of Adapted Physical Activity, 19-23 July Istanbul, Turkey.
  • 2013 The microstructure of coaching practice: what "game sense" and "athlete centeredness" actually looks like. Sport Leadership sportif 7-9th November, Calgary, Canada.
  • 2012 Investigating the development of self-regulation and motivation in young science students. International Association for Cognitive Education and Psychology, Geneva, Switzerland, May 25-26.

John is a member of the Human Performance Science Research Group.

View all 83 publications on Research Explorer