Eight Novice PHE Teachers' Perceptions of Engaging Adolescent Girls in Their Classrooms
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This qualitative study aimed to understand how new secondary school teachers (in years 0-5) approach the teaching of adolescent females in their physical education classes. As there is a significantly greater decline in the enrollment of adolescent females participating in physical education compared to males once the choice to participate becomes elective, Physical and Health Education (PHE) teachers are challenged in their teaching and assessment practice to motivate adolescent girls. Eight PHE teachers (four female, four male) were interviewed about their approaches in physical education classes with a particular emphasis on their interactions with adolescent girls. These teachers relied largely on their cumulative life experiences prior to entering teacher education to structure their classrooms. While these PHE teachers had some understanding about adolescent girl behaviour within their classrooms, they were not deliberate in their teaching and assessment practices for this population. They tended to view their practices through a gender-neutral lens (“gender blindness”), while holding gender stereotypes about motivations of girls and boys. The findings from the study highlight the complexity of addressing the needs of adolescent girls in PHE, and the importance of developing intervention strategies so that research may be disseminated to new PHE teachers and implemented in their classes to effect change.