Lived experiences of undergraduate physical education students studying gymnastics and dance education

Gavin Ward*, David Scott

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The focus of this study was to understand undergraduate students’ experiences of gymnastics and dance education within the scrutiny of modular learning in Higher Education. A phenomenological position was adopted in order to understand the wholeness of students’ experiences whereby identities are constituted through their lived lives. This allowed us to understand the students’ identities as relational to the learning and assessment context and their lives within and beyond the university. Open-ended interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of students who consented to share their experiences. Data were analysed using Merleau-Ponty’s theorising of identity as an embodied cohesion or habit between pre-personal and personal existence. This is revealed through opaqueness and transparencies of consciousness which in this study were revealed through the seven identities of the participants; Negotiating and surviving White space, Strategic masculine competitor, Seeking reassurance, Racially strategic to be unique, Seeking dependence to achieve, Strategically insular and Willing explorer. These identities help to shed light on the tensions Higher Education students may experience when confronted with new learning situations in which they are to be assessed. We concluded that getting to know students, and the opacities and transparencies of their identities, could be of great value in shaping their be-ing as students. In striving to understand the habitual behaviours of students, it is possible to understand how the subject-matter being taught might be received by students within the wider context of their be-ing-in-the-world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-229
Number of pages17
JournalSport, Education and Society
Issue number2
Early online date21 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 12 Feb 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Lived experience
  • Phenomenology
  • Physical education
  • Identity
  • Gymnastics
  • Dance


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