Achieving conceptual and curriculum coherence in high-stakes school examinations in Physical Education

Malcolm Thorburn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In earlier papers, some of the teaching, learning and attainment issues encountered by Physical Education (PE) teachers and students in a high-stakes school examination, Higher Still Physical Education in Scotland, were analysed. A review of results and comparisons with Advanced Level awards in England and Board of Senior Secondary School Studies Senior Physical Education in Queensland, Australia highlights the need for further conceptual and curriculum coherence within these three awards if the quest for rich learning environments and high levels of authentic attainment is to be achieved.

Purpose: The paper begins with an analysis of the conceptual and curriculum adequacy of the three awards noted, and, thereafter outlines the promise of phenomenology, as a philosophically informed approach for locating students' active practical experiences at the centre of learning and assessment in high-stakes school examinations. Suitably framed, such curriculum developments could, it is argued, complement rather than contradict current practice.

Conclusions: The paper concludes with a discussion of why previous attempts to resolve conceptual coherence issues through a narrow adherence to the strictures of mind–body dualism have limited the development of policy and practice. Consequently, there is a need to ensure that greater conceptual and curriculum coherence in high-stakes school examinations is achieved, and that PE does not become unnecessarily constrained by developments in examination awards.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-184
JournalPhysical Education and Sport Pedagogy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2007


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