Critical Pedagogy and Model Based Practice in Physical Education

MQF Level: 7

ECTS Value: 4 ECTS

Self Study Hours: 48

Contact Hours: 20

Assessment Hours: 32


Overall Objectives and Outcomes

This module will offer possibilities and alternatives to current practices in Physical Education (PE) by looking at the complexity of social life. It aims to consider emancipation in the form of inclusion and equity, empowerment and cultural critique while resisting the status quo and quick fix solutions that are often implemented in educational settings. The scenario in PE has changed in Malta in these last years. With the introduction of co-ed in recent years, a greater awareness on social issues and considerations, school students need to become conversant with the political oppressive cultures which afflict them. Therefore, prospective teachers need to sensitise their students how they can become critical consumers of sport and active lifestyle so that they could recognise hegemonic practices and be empowered to deal with them.  

In addition, PE is experiencing a crisis of meaning. At times referred to as physical education, at other times physical literacy or sport education. So what kind of PE is the best PE for our students? Should PE be part of the solution or apart of the solution and if it should accept to be part of the solution, should it make students more active and healthier or more physically literate? Should it consider the students’ voices and choices to determine a more student-centred PE or should it continue to exercise power over students which rigid teacher-centred practices? 

By looking deeply at critical pedagogy and studying Models Based Practice (MBP), course participants will be able to decipher the best model or models to teach each Learning Area in PE while providing an equitable education. As PE needs to move away from the multi-activity sports which has left so many students behind and failed them for their inability to deal with the way it was taught and presented, MBP offer specific learning outcomes that have unique features which are tailored to the context. In this way, students develop a meaning of the social structures that embody them.

By the end of this programme, participants should be able to:


a. Critically review the experience of different students in and through PE by looking at taken for granted practices from different perspectives.

b. Transform current practices where students are often alienated to MBP and where they are protagonists and active learners.

c. Identify how PE can be more socially just ta all students.

d. Devise opportunities to enhance the role of student voice and choice in PE.


a. Comprehensively identify the key components of critical pedagogies in PE;

b. Systematically recognise the changes that are required in both content and pedagogy and how students need to be more involved in such changes.


a. Transform teacher-centred to student-centred practices whereby such practices originate from student voice and choice.

b. Devise practices that respect all the students.

c. Evaluate how PE exerts hegemony and how the students can be liberated and be critical consumers of sport and physically active lifestyles.

Assessment Methods

This module will be assessed through: Case Study and Assignment.

Suggested Readings

Core Reading List
  1. Kirk, D. (2003) Situated learning as a theoretical framework for sport education. European Physical Education Review 9, (3), 221-235
  2. Kirk, D. (2006) Sport Education, Critical Pedagogy, and Learning Theory: Toward an Intrinsic Justification for Physical Education and Youth Sport. Quest, 58, 255-264. 
  3. Casey, A., & Kirk, D. (2020) Models-based Practice in Physical Education. Taylor & Francis Group.
  4. El-Sherif, J.L. (2014) Student Voice: Student Choice and participation in Physical Education, Strategies, 27 (5), 8-11
  5. Fitzpatrick, K. (2019) What happened to critical pedagogy in Physical Education? An analysis of key critical work in the field. European Physical Education Review, 25(4), 1128-1145.
  6. Freire, P. (2017) Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Penguin Modern Classics. London, England: Penguin Classics.
  7. Gillespie, L. & McBain, S. (2011) A critical analysis process: Bridging the theory to practice gap in senior secondary school Physical Education. Teachers and Curriculum, 12 (1), 65-72. 
  8. Howley, D. & Tannehill, D. (2014) Crazy Ideas”: Student Involvement in Negotiating and Implementing the Physical Education Curriculum in the Irish Senior Cycle. Physical Educator, 71 (3), 391-416
Supplementary Reading List
  1. Ovens, A. (2016). A quest for a pedagogy of critical theorising in physical education teacher education: One physical educator’s journey. In J. Williams, & M. Hayler, (Eds.), Professional learning through transitions and transformations: Teacher educators’ journeys of becoming, (pp.123-135). London: Springer 
  1. Culpan, I. (2019) Olympism, Physical Education and Critical Pedagogy. European Physical Education Review 25 (3), 847-858.
  2. Ennis, C. (1999) Creating a culturally relevant curriculum for disengaged girls. Sport, Education, and Society, 4, 31-49.
  3. Kirk, D. (2019). Precarity, Critical Pedagogy and Physical Education. Routledge.
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