Learning health in Swedish physical education: A critical case study of students’ encounters with physical fitness and health as a learning object

Marie Graffman-Sahlberg, Gunilla Brun Sundblad & Suzanne Lundvall
Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, Stockholm

The interfaces between health, physical education and schooling have a long history. Critical questions are being raised about the enforcement of learning a particular health practice in school physical education (PE). The present study departures from a practice-based research project evaluating a pedagogical model. The aim of the case study was to explore upper secondary students’ learning and understandings of a specific learning object, aerobic fitness and how this influences health, after participating in a period of a longer lab work in the context of Swedish physical education. A phenomenographic approach was used when analyzing the students’ written reports to identify and distinguish the variations of learning outcomes and understandings that emerged. Expectations of physical performance created tensions, and even conflicts, between the student-centred assignments and existing traditions within the field of physical education. The findings underscore the risk of neoliberal logics underpinning health education in the learning culture of PE. Further studies are needed where teaching methods/models and student learning are paid attention to in order to move away from teaching to be healthy towards students learning about health and make sense of themselves as healthy. This may offer new educational perspectives.

Click here to read this peer reviewed article in Scandinavian Sport Studies Forum, Vol. 10, 2019

MARIE GRAFFMAN-SAHLBERG is a senior lecturer at Katedralskolan in Uppsala and has also worked as a teacher educator in sport and health at Uppsala University. Graffman-Sahlberg has been a PhD student in the Graduate School of Sport and Health Didactics, financed by the Swedish Research Council (VR). Her main research interest is within health literacy, sports pedagogy and teaching.

GUNILLA BRUN SUNDBLAD completed her PhD in Medical Science examining self-experienced health and sport injuries among children and youth. She has been part of the longitudinal project Sport-School-Health (SIH), a joint research project between Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, Karolinska Institute and Stockholm University, where she has been responsible for several follow-up studies. Brun Sundblad is affiliated researcher at the Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, GIH.

SUZANNE LUNDVALL is an associate professor in sport science and head of department at the Swedish School of Sport Science, GIH in Stockholm. Her research is mainly within sports pedagogy focusing on attitudes, policies and practices related to the school subject physical education and health, organized sport, and outdoor education. Several studies have had a gender or an intersectional perspective. She is author of numerous articles and book chapters in sport science.

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