Background: Physical Education (PE) has been associated with a multi-activity 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 Bernsteinâs 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 teachersâ grading practices. Purpose: The purpose of this study is to investigate what PE teachers consider legitimate movement in a criterion-referenced 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 teachersâ 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 teachersâ 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.