A Survey of Physical Education Teacher Education Doctoral Programs

Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Exhibit Hall RC Poster Sessions (Tampa Convention Center)
Melissa Parker1, Christina Sinclair1, Sue Sutherland2 and Phillip Ward2, (1)University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, CO, (2)The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Purpose. Notably absent from recent discussions of PETE doctoral programs has been information about the doctoral programs themselves. The purpose of this study was to survey programs offering a doctoral degree in Physical Education Teacher Education and Physical Education pedagogy (collectively called PETE in this report) regarding the content and standards of the program. The specific focus was on the content studied in the core curriculum and additionally admission requirements; number of full and part time students; number of faculty serving these students; funding supporting students; focus of the program; and type and scope of research classes.

Methods. Using lists of programs from reports by van der Mars (2007) and Boyce and Rickard (2007) the web sites of 27 universities offering a doctorate in PETE were examined. Faculty at those universities were then contacted to clarify information obtained from or to provide details not available on the web site. At this point programs no longer offering doctoral degrees were dropped (n= 4). All programs contacted participated in the study.

Analysis/Results. Data were collated and trends and variations examined. Primary findings include: (a) most programs require at least a GRE score of 1000 and undergraduate and graduate GPAs ranging from 3.0-3.5 for admission, (b) though most schools indicate a requirement for public school teaching experience in many cases this is loosely enforced and coaching and other experiences can substitute for this criterion, (c) there is a continuum on which programs can be located relative to the focus of the degree. At one end of the spectrum programs focus on research on teaching and teacher education while at the other end of the spectrum programs have a clear practical orientation and minimal research demands, (d) the core curriculum varies dramatically across programs ranging from the practical to the conceptual, (e) there are few “doctoral only courses” with most courses including a mix of master's and doctoral students, and (f) research classes vary across programs in their focus, scope, and demands on students.

Conclusions. From these data it can be concluded that future PETE faculty do not study the same content, with the same rigor, or for the same purposes. This calls for a closer examination of what is expected from a doctoral PETE program, for whom are PETE students being prepared, and the purpose of a teaching experience requirement and whether coaching and other experiences provide the same prerequisites for future PETE faculty.