Evidence for the social construction of ability in physical education

Hay, Peter J. and Macdonald, Doune (2009) Evidence for the social construction of ability in physical education. Sport, Education and Society, 15 1: 1-18. doi:10.1080/13573320903217075

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Author Hay, Peter J.
Macdonald, Doune
Title Evidence for the social construction of ability in physical education
Formatted title

Journal name Sport, Education and Society   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1357-3322
Publication date 2009-10-14
Year available 2009
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1080/13573320903217075
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 15
Issue 1
Start page 1
End page 18
Total pages 18
Editor J. Evans
Place of publication Abingdon, Oxon
Publisher Routledge
Language eng
Subject C1
930101 Learner and Learning Achievement
130210 Physical Education and Development Curriculum and Pedagogy
Abstract This paper reports on a study investigating the empirical substance of Evans' proposed social construction of ability. Data were collected through text analysis of a Senior physical education (PE) syllabus, semi-structured interviews and participant observations of students and teachers in two senior secondary school contexts (one school situated in a low socioeconomic area; and the other school, an 'elite' co-educational private school) across 20 weeks of the school year at key junctures in the schools' PE curriculum plans. The data and analysis support Evans' social construction of ability proposition. Students' abilities were observable as a complex construction dependent on the constitution of the field of practice and the students' possession of physical, cultural and social capital operational in and through habitus. Within this construction process high-ability students were privileged in terms of achievement possibilities while low-ability students were marginalised in terms of access to contexts in which capital may be acquired and/or displayed, resulting in their enduring low-ability identification. The findings offer an alternative perspective to prevailing notions of ability and challenge educators to reconsider how the potential of students in and beyond PE is viewed.
Formatted abstract

Keyword ability
social construction
physical education
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes First Published on: 14 October 2009

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: 2010 Higher Education Research Data Collection
School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 26 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 37 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Sun, 22 Nov 2009, 21:19:46 EST by Deborah Noon on behalf of School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences