Dr Shirley Gray

Senior Lecturer in Physical Education


Before becoming a lecturer in physical education, I was a secondary school teacher of physical education and then a teaching fellow at the University of Edinburgh. I have a keen interest in team sports, having previously been a field hockey player and coach at both club (national) level and district level. Indeed, my earlier research projects and my PhD focussed on teaching and performance in team games such as hockey, soccer and rugby. I investigated the ways in which decisions are made during play and how teachers or coaches might facilitate the development of decision-making skills in their players.

Since completion of my PhD in 2008, my research has taken a slight shift in direction in an attempt to understand the relationship between curriculum and pedagogy. In very broad terms my research attempts to understand how teachers engage understand and enact curriculum policy, and how they might be supported in their learning to provide their students with positive learning experiences in physical education.

Undergraduate teaching

  • Physical Education Research 2: The Teacher as a Researcher
  • Physical Education 4B: Motor skill acquisition: Non-Linear Pedagogy   
  • Physical Education Perspectives 1: Motor skill acquisition – An Introduction to Information Processing and Dynamical Systems Theories of Skill Acquisition
  • Physical Education 4C: Research – Topics include: motivational climate, sport education, teaching styles, curriculum, health and wellbeing and skill acquisition
  • Physical Education 3C: Research – Research perspectives
  • Physical Education 3B: Motor skill acquisition – Dynamical Systems, Direct Perception and Constraints

Research summary

  • Physical education pedagogy
  • The physical education curriculum (Health and Wellbeing)
  • Pupil experience in physical education
  • Gender issues in physical education
  • Teacher learning in physical education
  • Motivation, self-determination and self-regulated learning
  • I would be happy to work with prospective PhD students who have an interest in any of these areas.

Project activity

  • A critical analysis of the processes involved in the development of the physical education curriculum within the Curriculum for Excellence (Health and Wellbeing)
  • Guided by self-determination theory, an investigation to understand pupil experience in physical education within the Health and Wellbeing curriculum
  • A longitudinal study investigating teachers' learning activities and learning as they engage with a new physical education curriculum
  • A comparative study investigating Canadian and Scottish student teachers' discourse concerning the curriculum, health and the body
  • A scoping review of the literature on students’ emotional, social and mental wellbeing in the school physical activity/PE contexts