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Understanding whole school physical activity transition from a practice theory perspective

Fiona Spotswood (School of Management, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK)
Triin Vihalemm (Institute of Social Studies, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia)
Marko Uibu (Institute of Social Studies, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia)
Leene Korp (Institute of Social Studies, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia)

Health Education

ISSN: 0965-4283

Article publication date: 13 July 2021

Issue publication date: 26 July 2021

185

Abstract

Purpose

In this study, the authors offer a practice theory framing of school physical activity transition with conceptual and managerial contributions to whole school approaches (WSAs).

Design/methodology/approach

Based on a literature overview of the limitations of WSA, ecological and systems theorisation and a practice theory framing of physical activity, the authors introduce a model that identifies signs of practice transition and conceptualises the relationship between signs and practice reconfigurations. To exemplify insights from the model, the authors provide illustrations from three cases from the national Estonian “Schools in Motion” programme.

Findings

The signs of practitioner effort, resistance and habituation indicate how practice ecosystem transition is unfolding across a spectrum from practice differentiation to routinisation. Several signs of transition, like resistance, indicate that reconfigured practices are becoming established. Also, there are signs of habituation that seemingly undermine the value of the programme but should instead be celebrated as valuable evidence for the normalisation of new practices.

Practical implications

The article provides a model for WSA programme managers to recognise signs of transition and plan appropriate managerial activities.

Originality/value

The practice theory framing of school physical activity transition advances from extant theorizations of WSAs that have failed to account for the dynamic ways that socio-cultural change in complex school settings can unfold. A model, based on a practice ontology and concepts from theories of practice, is proposed. This recognises signs of transition and can help with the dynamic and reflexive management of transition that retains the purpose of systemic whole school change.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The program “Schools in Motion” is supported by EEA grant under the program “Local Development and Poverty Reduction”, co-financed by the Ministry of Social Affairs and the University of Tartu.

Citation

Spotswood, F., Vihalemm, T., Uibu, M. and Korp, L. (2021), "Understanding whole school physical activity transition from a practice theory perspective", Health Education, Vol. 121 No. 5, pp. 523-539. https://doi.org/10.1108/HE-04-2021-0066

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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