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Grading in physical education
Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, GIH, Department of Sport and Health Sciences. University of Gävle.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4225-2014
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In the thesis the aim is to investigate different aspects of what teachers value when grading in Swedish physical education (PE) and to analyses how sociological background factors impact students’ grades. Grades in PE have included aspects other than those prescribed in the grading criteria, for instance motivation and effort. Teachers sometimes find their value-setting difficult to articulate and refer to a “gut feeling”. In order to explore both explicit and implicit forms of value-setting, the Repertory Grid interview technique is employed.

The thesis includes four sub-studies, three interview studies with Swedish PE teachers and a fourth study based on registry data from the Swedish National Agency for Education. The data of all students leaving nine-year compulsory school in 2014 (n=95317) is analysed to explore how sociological background factors, such as migration background, parents’ education, school provider and gender, affect PE grades.

The results reveal aspects of grading that are not detectable in the official description of the grading assignment and highlight problems that teachers need to address when grading. Four themes are discerned in the teachers’ grading practices: motivation, knowledge, confidence and social skills. The implementation of a new national curriculum with specified knowledge requirements seems to improve the alignment with the national criteria, but there is still a gap between policy and practice. The knowledge requirements for movement are often interpreted as performances in competitive sports, even if the teachers try to find other interpretations. The odds ratio for getting a higher grade in PE is greater for the variables migration background and parents’ education than for the other investigated variables. The concepts formulated by Bernstein are applied to explore the relations between teachers’ grading practices and cultural and political influences and to discuss how the tensions between different interests could affect teachers’ grading.

The conclusion is that the gap between policy and practice confirmed in this study is related to tensions between the interests and purposes of different agents, all of whom strive to influence steering documents and practice. Cultural and political influences need to be considered and facilitate discussions about how to understand which knowledge is valued in PE and who has better possibilities to assimilate it.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Gymnastik- och idrottshögskolan, GIH , 2017.
Series
Avhandlingsserie för Gymnastik- och idrottshögskolan, 08
Keyword [en]
physical education, assessment, movement qualities, criterion referenced, standards-based grading, internalised grading, gut-feeling, equity, Bernstein, Repertory Grid
National Category
Sport and Fitness Sciences
Research subject
Social Sciences/Humanities
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:gih:diva-4715ISBN: 978-91-980862-9-4 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:gih-4715DiVA: diva2:1064938
Public defence
2017-02-17, Aulan, Lidingövägen 1, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Projects
Forskningslinjen Utbildning
Available from: 2017-01-13 Created: 2017-01-13 Last updated: 2017-02-13Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Exploring PE teachers’ ‘gut feeling’: An attempt to verbalise and discuss teachers’ internalised grading criteria
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Exploring PE teachers’ ‘gut feeling’: An attempt to verbalise and discuss teachers’ internalised grading criteria
2014 (English)In: European Physical Education Review, ISSN 1356-336X, E-ISSN 1741-2749, Vol. 20, no 2, 199-214 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Research shows that teachers’ grading is influenced by non-achievement factors in addition to official criteria, such as knowledge and skills. Some grading criteria are internalised by the teacher, who is sometimes unable to verbalise the criteria used and refers to what is called a ‘gut feeling’. Therefore, transparency, validity and reliability are problematic. The aim of this study was to explore which criteria physical education teachers consider important when grading. Such an exploration makes it possible to discuss how the verbalised criteria and the value they are given by the teachers can be understood. Four Year 9 teachers at different Swedish compulsory schools were interviewed using Kelly’s Repertory Grid technique. Among the verbalised criteria, four themes were identified: motivation, knowledge and skills, self-confidence and interaction with others. The teachers sometimes had difficulties predicting which criteria had relevance to the grades given, and the criteria considered important by the teachers were not always reflected in the grade. The verbalised criteria revealed teachers using grades to encourage such student behaviours that helped them to handle the classroom situation and to facilitate students learning. To become cognisant of and develop their grading, methods to verbalise their individual grading criteria were needed, and Kelly’s Repertory Grid technique is one possible option. The results provide discussion points about reasons for the way teachers are grading.

Keyword
Assessment, grading practice, physical education, repertory grid
National Category
Pedagogy
Research subject
Social Sciences/Humanities
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:gih:diva-3295 (URN)10.1177/1356336X13517437 (DOI)
Available from: 2014-04-15 Created: 2014-04-15 Last updated: 2017-01-13Bibliographically approved
2. Swedish PE teachers struggle with assessment in a criterion-referenced grading system
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Swedish PE teachers struggle with assessment in a criterion-referenced grading system
2016 (English)In: Sport, Education and Society, ISSN 1357-3322, E-ISSN 1470-1243Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

In the field of education, the international trend is to turn to criterion-referenced grading in the hope of achieving accountable and consistent grades. Despite a national criterion-referenced grading system emphasising knowledge as the only base for grading, Swedish physical education (PE) grades have been shown to value non-knowledge factors, such as students’ characteristics and behaviour. In 2011, a new national curriculum was implemented which attempts to deal with the problem by prescribing specific knowledge requirements with a clear progression as the only basis for different grades. The aim of the present study is to explore the impact of the new knowledge requirements on what teachers consider important when assigning grades. It is also to discuss what non-knowledge-related aspects (if any) teachers continue to look for and why these seem to remain resilient to the reform. The Repertory Grid technique was employed to interview the teachers before (2009) and after the implementation (2013). During the interviews, the grading of 45 students was discussed, which generated 125 constructs. After the implementation, there was a near doubling of knowledge constructs, half as many motivation constructs and an almost total elimination of constructs based on confidence and social skills. While motivational factors were still considered valuable for the award of a higher grade, clear criteria seemed to be important, but too limited for the teachers’ needs. In order to understand the persistence of motivational factors, we discuss the results in relation to Bernstein’s interrelated message systems of curriculum, pedagogy and assessment. We emphasise the need to discuss how valid grades can be achieved and, at the same time, give value to the regulative discourse in order to realise the overarching national goals of values and norms in education and PE.

Keyword
Bernstein, curriculum regulation, interrelated message systems, motivation, pedagogic discourse, physical education, regulative discourse, repertory grid, standards-based grading, teachers grading practice
National Category
Educational Sciences Sport and Fitness Sciences
Research subject
Social Sciences/Humanities
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:gih:diva-4491 (URN)10.1080/13573322.2016.1200025 (DOI)
Available from: 2016-06-28 Created: 2016-06-28 Last updated: 2017-01-26Bibliographically approved
3. Swedish PE teachers’ understandings of legitimate movement in a criterion-referenced grading system
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Swedish PE teachers’ understandings of legitimate movement in a criterion-referenced grading system
2017 (English)In: Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, ISSN 1740-8989, E-ISSN 1742-5786, Vol. 22, no 3, 257-269 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: Physical Education (PE) has been associated with a multiactivity model in which movement is related to sport discourses and sport techniques. However, as in many international contexts, the Swedish national PE syllabus calls for a wider and more inclusive concept of movement. Complex movement adapted to different settings is valued, and in the national grading criteria qualitative measures of movement are used. This research seeks to examine how the wider concept of movement is interpreted and graded. Drawing on Bernstein’s concept of the pedagogic device, the paper explores teachers’ roles as active mediators in the transformation of national grading criteria for movement and the kinds of movement that are valued in teachers’ grading practices. Purpose: The purpose of this study is to investigate what PE teachers consider legitimate movement in a criterionreferenced grading system and the factors that influence their grading practice. The Repertory Grid (RG) technique was employed in order to access their tacit knowledge. Methodology: Seven Swedish PE teachers were interviewed, all of whom teach and grade years seven to nine in different compulsory schools. Using the RG technique, the teachers were asked to reflect on the aspects they considered important for achieving a high grade. The national grading criteria for years seven to nine were then presented one at a time and the teachers were asked to describe how they assessed and graded each requirement. The teachers were also asked whether any specific factors had influenced their grading. In the content analysis, the second part of the interview was attended to first and the results were interpreted in light of Bernsteins’ concept of the pedagogic device. Findings: Sport techniques and competitive sports influenced the teachers’ interpretations of what constitutes complex movement. The aspect of fitness also appeared to be valued by the teachers in that it facilitates the valued movement. In some cases the difficulty of describing movement qualities in words could reduce the concept of movement to something measurable and quantifiable. The teachers’ concerns about students’ unequal opportunities to develop and demonstrate their skills also influenced the teachers’ interpretation of complex movement. Conclusions: In the transformation of national grading criteria to grading practice, the pedagogic actions taken inform and limit the way in which legitimate movement in PE is conceptualised. Adopting a concept of movement that is wider than competitive sports allows the structures of inequality to be addressed and enables the movements performed by students with other moving experiences than competitive sports to be valued. The tension between the demands of transparency in a high stakes grading system and the inability to articulate the quality of complex movements is problematic. There is a need to verbalise teachers’ conceptions about physical education knowledge to be able to discuss and develop the concept of movement. In this process, the RG technique is a potentially useful tool. Having the language to discuss movement qualities also enables us to strengthen the interrelation between curriculum, pedagogy and assessment.

Keyword
Assessment, grading, movement, standards-based, teachers’ grading practice
National Category
Sport and Fitness Sciences
Research subject
Social Sciences/Humanities
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:gih:diva-4688 (URN)10.1080/17408989.2016.1176132 (DOI)000398195100004 ()
Available from: 2017-01-08 Created: 2017-01-08 Last updated: 2017-04-28Bibliographically approved
4. Who gains?: Sociological parameters for obtaining high grades in physical education
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Who gains?: Sociological parameters for obtaining high grades in physical education
(English)Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
National Category
Sport and Fitness Sciences
Research subject
Social Sciences/Humanities
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:gih:diva-4711 (URN)
Note

At the time of Lena Svennberg's dissertation the article was submitted.

Available from: 2017-01-13 Created: 2017-01-13 Last updated: 2017-01-27Bibliographically approved

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