Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2011

Degree Type


Degree Name



Kinesiology and Pedagogy

First Advisor

Nathan McCaughtry


In light of growing concern over the relation between physical inactivity and a variety of biomedical and psychosocial conditions and the disjuncture between larger physical activity culture and secondary school physical education curriculum, the purpose of this study was to examine how middle school physical education teachers negotiated content and curricular decisions. A variety of theories guided this study, including Bourdieu's theories of habitus and field (1977), teacher socialization theory (Lawson, 1983; 1988), teacher ideology (Apple, 2004), teacher emotion (Hargreaves, 1998; McCaughtry, 2004), curriculum as a political text (Pinar, Reynolds, Slattery, & Taubman, 2004), and range of critical and post-structural social theories (Ingram & Simon-Ingram, 1991; Wilber, 2001). This qualitative study was grounded in the interpretive tradition. Eight middle school teachers were observed and interviewed for five whole days over the span of one school year. The main finding from this study revealed that the complex interplay of teachers' personal, institutional, and student factors, and the teachers' consideration of these factors, coalesced in ways that resulted in the perpetuation of competitive sport as the dominant content of their curricula.