Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Judith A. Aiken


In the last thirty years childhood obesity and inactivity rates in the United States have increased at alarming rates (Ogden, Carroll, Kit, & Flegal, 2014). In response to this, physical education curriculum is shifting to focus more on health promotion rather than competitive team sports and game play. This focus is reflected in the recently revised K-12 physical education national content standards and learning outcomes and is impacting how colleges are preparing future teachers (SHAPE America (Organization), Couturier, Chepko, & Holt/Hale, 2014). Changing how physical education is taught can be challenging for teacher educators, in part due to the fact that students' deeply held beliefs about the purposes of physical education are often based on years of experience in traditional, PK-12, sports-based physical education programs (Placek et al., 1995).

The purpose of this study was to explore how teacher candidates and recent graduates experience the process of occupational socialization into their profession as physical education teachers. Utilizing occupational socialization theory, this study examined factors that impacted participants' teaching perspectives and explored the beliefs they held about the goals and purposes of PK-12 physical education. The adoption of the national physical education standards by the Vermont Agency of Education, along with recent legislation (Act 77) that is changing the way schools prepare PK-12 students for college and careers, make the Vermont context a rich setting.

This phenomenological case study was set within a small public university located in Vermont in the United States during the summer and fall of 2016. The units of analysis included five freshman year physical education candidates, five junior year physical education candidates, and five recent graduates, also from the same institution, who were employed as Vermont physical education teachers. Three secondary participants included a Vermont principal and two physical education teacher education faculty members. Data collection methods included eighteen semi-structured interviews and document review of course syllabi and student assessments. Findings suggested that participants: 1) enter the field with teaching orientations rather than coaching orientations, 2) believe that the purpose of physical education is lifelong health and wellness, 3) develop innovative teaching perspectives during teacher education that persist into teaching careers, and 4) identify as agents of change in the field of physical education. Understanding how students are socialized into careers as physical education teachers may inform the decision-making for physical education teacher education faculty and PK-12 physical education teachers.



Number of Pages

195 p.