University of Leicester
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The professional lives of Hong Kong primary school physical education teachers

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posted on 2010-04-30, 11:37 authored by Kim Wai Raymond Sum
This thesis investigates the professional lives of primary school physical education teachers (PSPETs) in Hong Kong. It is focused on the problems arising from apparent overload and the multiple roles of physical education teachers’ worklives in Hong Kong brought about by education and curriculum reforms. The central research question is, “How do Hong Kong PSPETs manage their professional lives”. The study aims at inductively developing a grounded theory of how Hong Kong PSPETs manage their professional lives in relation to a conceptual framework based on the following interrelated concepts - identity, socialization, professionalization, and career trajectory. A qualitative research design is adopted to gain an in-depth understanding of the meaning that participants make of their professional lives. The methodological approach uses grounded theory methods, based on the meta-theory of symbolic interactionism. The researcher used semi-structured interviews, supplemented by documentary sources (diaries) for conducting data collection. Through purposive sampling methods (snowball sampling), eleven Hong Kong PSPETs participated in this study. Data were analyzed through three major types of coding, namely, open coding, axial coding and selective coding. The grounded theory that was constructed from the study is termed the Theory of Diversified Adaptation. The theory developed from four dovetailing categories each of which is built on “clusters” of concepts related specifically to the professional lives of Hong Kong PSPETs: “switching”, “interplaying”, “diversifying” and “assimilating”. The associations between the above categories are moderated by patterns of data that suggest a threefold typology for PSPETs in Hong Kong – “Engagers”, “Adherers” and “Dissenters”. This typology represents three distinct types of PSPETs based on differences in how they manage their work lives. Additionally, four main different sets of inter-related propositions are drawn from the findings of the study. They are the Theory of Diversified Adaptation; the categories and major processes of the theory; the context of PSPETs’ work lives, identity, socialization experience and career trajectory; and the typology of PSPETs. The construction of the substantive theory thus contributes to an increased appreciation of the diversity of PSPETs’ work in Hong Kong and to the literature on physical education teachers’ professionalization and professionalism. Recommendations include the professional development of PSPETs concerning multiple roles in schools are made to different stakeholders including policy-makers, teacher education institutions, school principals, and teachers. Although the theory is generalizable only to PSPETs in situations similar to the present cohort, it has implications that further studies might seek further theory development by testing the theory in similar and different contexts.



Dimmock, C.

Date of award


Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • EdD



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