Professional knowledge of elementary school teachers

Por: Antônio Moreira, Francisco Carreiro da Costa e Rui Neves.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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The construction of professional knowledge is not dissociable from the professional development of teachers (Shulman, 2002). This operative articulation is structured over time and in relation to the contexts of intervention, life experiences and personal forms of organizing work (Rocha, 1998). As far as the area of Physical Education (PE) in Elementary Schools is concerned, it emerges as a focus of problems and difficulties, which its practitioners resolve as their careers progress and their perceptions of their pupils’ learning becomes relevant (Crum, 2002). Therefore it is important to know what the pupils learn in PE in the opinion of their teachers.
By means of application of a questionnaire to a stratified sample of 150 Elementary School teachers (21 Male and 129 Female), divided into groups of 30 according to years of teaching experience: less than 5, between 6 and 10, between 11 and 15, between 16 and 21, and more than 21 years. We used the categories defined in the PE extension framework (ME, 1992), and analysed the data in terms of descriptive statistics and interpretive content analysis.


Our results revealed that Elementary School teachers attribute greater value to the "learning of physical and sporting activities" (28.3%) - "gymnastics", "skills and manipulation", "movement and stability", "games" - and to "knowledge pertaining to the interpretation of extra-school social structures, in which physical activities (PAs) take place" (26%) - "respect for others, for winners and losers", "following rules", "healthy conviviality with peers (cooperation)". On the other hand, teachers with less years of teaching experience reveal a preference for learning activities centred on PAs, whereas those with more years of teaching practice identify as significant learning activities the ones associated to knowledge pertaining to interpretation of, and participation in extra-school social structures, in which PAs take place (attitudes, values, behaviours, habits, beliefs, etc).


In line with similar studies, younger teachers seem to give more importance to specific content-centred learning activities, which is typical of the early stages of teaching practices. At the same time, a growing awareness of the importance of social competences seems to emerge as the years of teaching experience increase. On the whole, teachers’ representations about learning in PE are concentrated in these two categories (content vs. social competences), but as the number of years of teaching practice increases a shift towards the latter category is observed.


[1]. CRUM, B. (2002). "Funções e Competências dos Professores de EF: Consequências para a Formação Inicial". Boletim da Sociedade Portuguesa de Educação Física, 23, pp. 61-76.
[2]. ME (1992). A Educação Física no 1º Ciclo do Ensino Básico. Direcção Geral do Ensino Básico e Secundário. Lisboa.
[3]. ROCHA, Leonardo (1998). Representações e Práticas de Educação Física de Professores do 1º Ciclo do Ensino Básico. Tese de Doutoramento apresentada à Faculdade de Motricidade Humana - Universidade Técnica de Lisboa (não publicado).
[4]. SHULMAN, Lee (2002). Truth and Consequences? Inquiry and Policy in Research on Teacher Education. Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 53, Nº 3, May/June



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