‘I think everyone is on board with changing how we do things, but we are yet to find a best fit model’: A figurational study of assessing games and sport in physical education

John Williams, Shane Pill, Mitchell Hewitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This project investigated how Australian Capital Territory (ACT) teachers of physical education (PE) assess games and sports as a Focus Area in the Australian curriculum health and physical education (AC: HPE). Figurational sociology, including the concept of habitus was used to inform the study and make sense of the findings. The figuration we examined was ACT primary and secondary school teachers across the government, independent, Catholic and private sectors who are mutually oriented towards assessing their students in PE. There were two sources of data: Semi-structured group interviews and current and historical PE curricula. Interview data were collected by each of the authors, from 19 teacher participants split into three groups, comprising two groups of six participants and one of seven participants. Our other data sources were the current AC: HPE curriculum and four historical ACT PE curricula. We used the interview data and the said curriculum documents to reconstruct the macro, micro and sociogenesis levels of the figuration and thematic and content analysis were used to analyse the data. We found that participants used approaches to assess games and sports that were not fit for purpose, were not evidence-based and that were typically based on subjectivity. Further, participants had limited understanding of how to authentically assess games and sports, with the assessment of skills emphasised at the expense of other criteria. This prioritising of skills assessment was also identified as a long-term process within ACT PE teaching. An over-emphasis on skills assessment contrasted with the assessment of game strategy, which although a requirement in the AC: HPE and the historical curricula, received little attention. Our findings are important, because the gap in teacher knowledge we revealed, led to teacher professional learning to upskill ACT teachers in the use of evidence-based approaches to assessing games and sports.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages15
JournalSport, Education and Society
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Jan 2020


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