Physical Education teachers’ assessment of invasion games and sports in Victorian secondary schools: A mixed methods study

Author: David Gow

Gow, David, 2024 Physical Education teachers’ assessment of invasion games and sports in Victorian secondary schools: A mixed methods study, Flinders University, College of Education, Psychology and Social Work

Terms of Use: This electronic version is (or will be) made publicly available by Flinders University in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. You may use this material for uses permitted under the Copyright Act 1968. If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material and/or you believe that any material has been made available without permission of the copyright owner please contact with the details.


This thesis describes, explains and makes meaning of Physical Education teachers’ understanding and practice of assessment. The uniqueness of the study is underpinned by its focus on a population of Victorian, secondary school teachers, and a context that holds a historically privileged position in most PE programs, invasion games and sports. The thesis employs an interpretive theoretical lens and a functional pragmatic worldview to create knowledge to further understanding with the intent to improve assessment practice. To respond to the overarching research question and aim, an explanatory, sequential, mixed methods approach is employed; this research design encompasses a Scoping Review, survey design and document analysis.

To provide a reference point for the assessment of invasion games and sports, the peer-reviewed literature is scoped to identify contextually relevant evidence-based assessment tools. This Scoping Review informs a two-phase survey design comprising a cross-sectional, quantitative inquiry of Physical Education teachers in Victorian secondary schools, and a qualitative inquiry to describe and explain participant understanding and practice of assessment in invasion games and sports. The thesis concludes with a document analysis of rubrics used by a nested sample of the population, with the aim of understanding how rubrics are constructed, and their degree of alignment to evidence-based criteria and the subject of Physical Education within the Victorian Curriculum.

The key findings of the thesis include the prevalence of evidence-based assessment tools that generate outcomes based on frequency-counts in the Scoping Review. This contrasts with the limited awareness and use of such tools by the sample of Physical Education teachers. There is congruence in the use of key performance criteria located in the Scoping Review and those indicated by the sample of teachers, however, the latter group understand rubrics to be the most useful tool in their assessment practice. Teachers generally use assessment to report student achievement to a parent audience rather than to identify the next steps in learning for students. Participants are inconsistent in their alignment of assessment to curriculum and describe the passive role of students throughout the assessment process; this includes the limited use of peer and self-assessment. The rubrics used by the sample are relatively uniform in their construction and thus considered narrow in their conceptualisation, they commonly include subjective criteria like effort and wearing uniform, and all rubrics employ scale-type language that is reported as a key limitation of rubric utility.

In addition to the above findings, the significant and original contribution to knowledge resulting from this thesis includes the identification of 32 unique, evidence-based tools from the Scoping Review study, the subsequent charting of tool characteristics and their applications, and a series of recommendations aimed at improving assessment practices for the sample population. The research makes meaning of the understanding and practice of assessment by Physical Education teachers in Victorian secondary schools, giving voice to a largely silent community and context, and filling a gap in the literature.

Keywords: physical education; secondary school, assessment, invasion, games, sports, mixed methods, Victoria, Australia

Subject: Education thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2024
School: College of Education, Psychology and Social Work
Supervisor: Shane Pill