Understanding the perceived mattering of physical education teachers

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Previous research related to occupational socialization theory has indicated that, in certain school contexts, physical education (PE) and physical education teachers are socially constructed as being less important than, or marginal to, the primary purpose of schooling. This research highlights the challenges associated with occupying a position of marginality. Another way to look at the social experiences of physical education teachers is to examine the extent to which they feel as if they matter to those around them. Drawing upon qualitative and quantitative data sources, the purpose of this study was to examine physical education teachers’ perceived mattering. A mixed-methods design was employed, and data sources included responses to an online survey (N = 105) and individual telephone interviews (N = 23). Quantitative data were analyzed using 2 × 2 (education × teaching level) Factorial MANOVA; interview data were analyzed using analytic induction and constant comparison. Quantitative analyses indicated that teachers with advanced degrees and those in secondary schools perceived a higher level of mattering than those with bachelor’s degrees and teaching in elementary schools. Respondents perceived that PE mattered slightly more than they did as teachers of the subject. Qualitative analysis indicated that (a) relationships were critical to teachers’ mattering, (b) physical location of the gym and isolation contributed to mattering, and (c) PE was viewed as a service to others in their workplace. Perceived matter is dependent upon a variety of factors related to both personal and workplace factors. Enhancing teachers’ perceptions of mattering may reduce feelings of marginalization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)578-590
Number of pages13
JournalSport, Education and Society
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jul 24 2018


  • Occupational socialization
  • mattering
  • physical education teachers
  • sociopolitics
  • workplace factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Education

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