It's all very well in theory: a review of theoretical perspectives and their applications in contemporary pedagogical research

Doune Macdonald, David Kirk, Michael Metzler, Lynda Nilges, Paul Schempp, Jan Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)


Current debates about educational theory are concerned with the relationship between knowledge and power and thereby issues such as who possesses a truth and how have they arrived at it, what questions are important to ask, and how should they best be answered. As such, these debates revolve around questions of preferred, appropriate, and useful theoretical perspectives. This paper overviews the key theoretical perspectives that are currently used in physical education pedagogy research and considers how these inform the questions we ask and shapes the conduct of research. It also addresses what is contested with respect to these perspectives. The paper concludes with some cautions about allegiances to and use of theories in line with concerns for the applicability of educational research to pressing social issues.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-156
Number of pages24
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2002


  • pedagogy
  • curriculum design
  • teacher education
  • physical education
  • PE
  • educational research
  • sport sciences

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