‘Of course I ask the best students to demonstrate’: digital normalizing practices in physical education

Corina van Doodewaard*, Annelies Knoppers, Ivo van Hilvoorde

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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In this paper, we focus on the use of digital video technology for instruction in physical education (PE). Physical educators can produce PE instruction videos (PIVs) as educational resources and often use them to enable independent learning situations. Little research has focused on the criteria teachers use to select students for demonstration in such video practices, while such selections may impact the constructions of (un) desirable bodies in PE. The purpose of this study therefore was to uncover discourses that guide teachers in their selection of students to demonstrate in instructional videos and to discuss the possible consequences these selections may have for the privileging and marginalizing of certain students. We recruited six physical educators who participated in a network of early adopters for ICT in PE and we used their own PIV's as instruments for individual stimulated recall interviews. We subsequently discussed issues raised in these interviews with four focus-groups. We analyzed the data inductively by using open, focused and selective coding, looking for themes in the explanations the teachers used about their selection of students. The results suggest that the selection of students to demonstrate was based on a degree of perceived competence to perform well in the video and a degree of perceived resilience to cope with public scrutiny of their bodies. The teachers constructed hierarchies of desirable bodies that were embedded in intersecting discourses of ability, gender and ethnicity. This resulted in the selection of students who primarily embodied practices associated with white, able-bodied masculinities while other bodies were made invisible. We reflect on how these discursive practices may privilege and marginalize certain students and the possible consequences of this and of the use of students in such videos in general.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)786-798
Number of pages13
JournalSport, Education and Society
Issue number8
Early online date7 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - 13 Oct 2018

Bibliographical note

Issue 8: Gender, physical education and active lifestyles: contemporary challenges and new directions


  • ability
  • biopower
  • demonstration
  • gender
  • intersectionality
  • Physical-education
  • teachers
  • video-instruction
  • whiteness


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