An investigation of how physical literacy is enacted in primary physical education

Gillian Bartle (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Purpose: This research investigated how students are becoming teachers of primary school (ages 5–11) physical education (PE), using a physical literacy (PL) approach (Whitehead, 2010). Primarily methodological, the purpose was to disrupt how to investigate this topic since research highlights that the philosophy underpinning PL makes the concept difficult to operationalize (Shearer et al., 2018).

Design/methodology/approach: PE settings are inherently lively, and the author retained this in the analytic insights from what she called a “methodological meshwork” (Law, 2004; Ingold, 2006). Informed by phenomenology, posthumanism and sociomaterialism, data gathering included observations, interviews with artefacts, with humans, and tweets as part of the methodological meshwork. Diagrammatic presentations accompany written text, whilst also doing work in themselves (Decuypere and Simon, 2016). The author followed the actors (Adams and Thompson, 2016), thus entered the middle of data, such as lesson plan or physical education equipment.

Findings: Onto-epistemological entanglements (Barad, 2007) are presented in an interweaving format. Thus, theory is discussed alongside the empirical and shows that a PL informed approach to PE is evident in multiple places-spaces.

Originality/value: Broader issues are raised about methodological assumptions that inform investigations of PL and practice generally. It is hoped that these may be relevant to a wider professional audience as well as those in physical and teacher education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325-337
Number of pages13
JournalQualitative Research Journal
Issue number3
Early online date23 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2023


  • Physical literacy
  • Methodological meshwork
  • Posthuman
  • Becoming teachers
  • Teacher education
  • Pre-service teachers
  • Physical education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Education


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