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The meaning of knowing how to move in specific ways - capability to move as embodied understanding
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Centre for Teaching and Learning in the Humanities (CeHum).
2013 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]


The subject physical education has a tradition of being a ‘practical’ subject. However, practical forms of knowing such as for example bodily awareness and capability to move do not, neither for teachers nor pupils, seem to be a main issue of learning in PE (Tinning, 2010; Redelius et al, 2009,). Rather, physical education in terms of the theme of this presentation, capability to move, is reduced to implicit and taken-for-granted ‘standards of excellence’, only reluctantly discussed by PE teachers (Kirk, 2010, 114). However, the knowing involved in moving is not easily articulated and may, according to Polanyi (1954), “often result in explaining away quite genuine practices or experiences” (p. 385).  Articulating what there is to know when knowing how to move in different ways could provide a base for dealing with capability to move as an educational objective in physical education.

Aim and theoretical framework

The aim of this study is to explore and articulate the meaning of knowing how to move in a specific way exemplified through a movement called ‘house hop’. The study takes as it’s starting point an epistemological perspective on capability to move corresponding with Ryle’s (1949) “knowing how”, not separating mental and physical skills. Accordingly, a phenomenographic analysis of students’ experiencing of the object of learning (‘house hop’) have been used.


In order to explore what it means to know a movement, a Learning Study was conducted. A Learning Study is a kind of design experiment inspired by the Japanese Lesson Study (Marton and Lo, 2007), where the main aim is to explore an object of learning. A group of teachers, in collaboration with a researcher, investigate together the most powerful way to teach a specific object of learning. The purpose of this study was, however, to explore what it means to know the object of learning, not the outcome, or the process, of students´ learning.

This presentation draws mainly on data from video recordings of the pre-test and video recorded lessons from a Learning Study in upper secondary school.


The findings show the meaning of knowing house hop as different ways of knowing the movement ‘as something’ as well as several aspects to discern and experience in order to know the movement in a powerful way.


It will be discussed how students’ experiencing of a movement are expressed in their way of moving. Conceiving the knowing involved in ‘house hopping’ (as well as other ways of moving) from a phenomenographic approach, conceiving different ways of knowing a movement as complementary rather than differentiating abilities,  as well as comprising physical and mental skills as unseparable could also contribute to a discussion concerning teaching and learning capability to move.


Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Physical Education, knowing, movement, phenomenography, Learning Study
National Category
Research subject
Educational Sciences in Arts and Professions
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-98928OAI: diva2:685847
SVEBI (Svensk Beteendevetenskaplig Idrottsforskning)
Available from: 2014-01-09 Created: 2014-01-09 Last updated: 2014-01-09

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Nyberg, Gunn
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