Academic journal article Physical Educator

Perceptions of the Physical Education Doctoral Experience: Does Previous Teaching Experience Matter?

Academic journal article Physical Educator

Perceptions of the Physical Education Doctoral Experience: Does Previous Teaching Experience Matter?

Article excerpt

Using theoretical frameworks such as occupational socialization theory, researchers have investigated the experiences and perspectives of in-service physical education (PE) teachers working in school environments (e.g., Keay, 2006; Lux & McCullick, 2011; O'Sullivan, 1989; Stran & Curtner-Smith, 2010). Over 25 years ago, Lawson (1991) also argued that attention needed to be given to the study of PE teacher education (PETE) faculty and doctoral students. Few studies (e.g., Casey & Fletcher, 2012; Lee & Curtner-Smith, 2011; Richards, Eberline, & Templin, 2016), however, have been designed to examine the socialization and perspectives of individuals training for careers in PETE. In contrast to the dearth of information related to the socialization of doctoral PETE (D-PETE) students, the socialization literature in higher education is more abundant (e.g., Austin & McDaniels, 2006; Gardner, 2008; Golde & Walker, 2006). Doctoral education, however, is uniquely positioned within the discipline in which it occurs (Gardner, 2010), and there is a need to extend these findings to the study of D-PETE students (Richards et al., 2016). This work is important to the future of PE as D-PETE students will go on to become stewards of the discipline (Golde & Walker, 2006) and advance the field as they conduct research, educate future teachers, and provide professional development to in-service practitioners (van der Mars, 2011).

Although numerous questions related to D-PETE need to be addressed, one particular concern relates to the influence and relevance of in-service teaching experience in K-12 school environments1 on an individual's development as an aspiring PETE faculty member (van der Mars, 2011). In the United States, much emphasis is placed on recruiting D-PETE students who have previous teaching experience (Parker, Sutherland, Sinclair, & Ward, 2011; Woods, Goc Karp, & Judd, 2011), with some scholars contending that the ability to draw upon prior teaching experience is essential to being an effective teacher educator (Boyd, Harris, & Murray, 2007). Nevertheless, Casey and Fletcher (2012) called into question indoctrinated views about the necessity of such experience and highlighted ways in which it can form a barrier, as practices that do not transfer to higher education must be unlearned. This could negatively affect how individuals with teaching experience view doctoral training. Aptly, van der Mars (2011) insisted that "until we actually have some data, I propose a moratorium on arguments over the experience factor" (p. 198).

Students' genders should be considered in the design of studies related to D-PETE socialization, as previous research has illustrated that females face more challenges integrating into the social environments of higher education, which are often constructed around the experiences of males (Ellis, 2001; Gardner, 2008; Nettles & Millett, 2006). Given that doctoral student satisfaction relates to motivation through program completion (Mason, 2012), it is integral that studies of doctoral student socialization include the perspectives of doctoral students themselves (Taylor & Van Every, 2000). In the current study, we sought to understand how gender and prior teaching experience influence D-PETE students' perceptions of program experiences. Specifically, we examined D-PETE students' perceptions of program quality, satisfaction, student-faculty relationships, student interrelationships, advisor strategies and networking, research training, and teaching preparedness.

Socialization and Prior Teaching Experience

Occupational socialization theory (Richards, Templin, & Graber, 2014; Templin & Schempp, 1989) has been conceptualized as "all kinds of socialization that initially influence persons to enter the field of PE and later are responsible for their perceptions and actions as teacher educators and teachers" (Lawson, 1986, p. 107). As such, it can be used as a conceptual framework for understanding doctoral student education and the potential influence of prior teaching experience on D-PETE students' perspectives of their program experience (Lawson, 1991). …

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