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Physical education – can purposeful inquiry occur? A framework for Inquiry-based learning in Physica

I recently completed my first module for my Masters in Education and felt compelled to share with you all my results.

You can access my assignment by clicking on the image above. It is at the bottom of the 'Documents' page of the Valuable Resources page.

Below is a short summary of the assignment, unit and my findings.


PE is plagued by an unfortunate stereotype and I desperately want to see it changed. We identify ourselves as Physical Educators but this identification can be confused with Physical Activity Providers - these are two very different terms. Therefore, I had to do something to ensure we are known as teachers who just happen to teach Physical Education.

I use the PYP curriculum and they encourage structured inquiry.

I found a reference that states that an inquiry-based learning approach that integrates both physical and cognitive learning makes lessons authentic, challenging, meaningful and open-ended. This approach is student-centred, allows for collaboration and the use of all competencies. These are all factors that enhance motivation and engagement, which in turn could change the general perception of PE teachers within the general public.

However, there is no direction on how to conduct inquiry-based learning in PE. Therefore, I had to make my own. If this curriculum intervention was successful (the intervention being inquiry-based learning) then I needed to make a framework so other teachers could follow suit.

Spoiler alert: It was successful and I made this framework. Please use it to help with your teaching if you want!

Kath Murdoch Inquiry Cycle:

The International Baccalaureate (IB) who created the PYP believes that inquiry is the leading pedagogical approach as it allows student to achieve 'Agency' - where students have the desire, ability and empowerment to engage in their own constructive learning.

Thus, inquiry-based learning was emphasised in the study since it engaged all students through the context of real-world authentic issues that the students could attempt to solve and achieve praxis. It is flexible as students had the ability to work individually or collaboratively and could utilise any skills necessary, physical or cognitive, to work towards a task, given or self-chosen.

Therefore, I used the Kath Murdoch Inquiry Cycle as the base for my lessons in this unit. I usually do use it as a reference in my lessons but for this unit I made it much more explicit. The framework allows for a natural journey between questioning, research, action and reflection.

The main purpose of this unit is for students to achieve praxis - informed committed action that is beneficial for human well-being. Therefore, 'taking action' is the aim of this unit and study.

Throughout the unit, I tracked students' progress around the inquiry cycle. This allowed me to determine whether my lessons were allowing students to take action both within class and during their lives outside of PE.