Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Education


Game Centred Approaches (GCAs) have become increasingly popular amongst physical educators because of their potential to enhance educational outcomes. Nevertheless, the literature shows that implementing GCAs can be problematic. The literature reports that the conceptual and pedagogical difficulties and feelings of insecurity, apprehension, and confusion experienced by teachers when trying to implement student-centred pedagogy such as GCAs can create barriers and issues. Emerging yet limited research has been revealed about how best to support teachers to explore what these approaches may look like in their own practice. Research conducted with in-service teachers on how best to support the use of GCA pedagogies to ensure quality outcomes for students is limited. Professional Development (PD) opportunities provide a critical mechanism to facilitate teacher learning, supporting teachers to transform their teaching practice, with links to improved learning outcomes for students. The research identifies a number of characteristics of effective PD, advocating for Professional Learning Communities (PLC) and Communities of Practice (CoP), and Action Research (AR) as effective platforms to support teacher professional learning, leading to informed and improved practice.

This research aimed to examine the influence of a conceptually designed PD model, informed by the research on effective PD practice and in-service teachers’ implementation of GCAs. It explored the elements of PD required to support teachers to design (i.e. planning) and implement (i.e. instruction/delivery/assessment) game-centred teaching. The PD was conducted using AR over four phases to examine the study aim: Needs Assessment, Planning, Implementation and Evaluation. Simultaneous data collection and data analysis were conducted across each phase, including focus group interviews, observations and document analysis. Data were triangulated and analysed using deductive and inductive analysis and constant comparison.

The findings of this study report the teachers’ experience and responses to the PD model. The teachers’ required specific and individualised support when implementing game-centred pedagogy. The findings revealed a range of facilitators and barriers to learning throughout the different PD phases. Analysis of the data showed that the PD model positively impacted the teachers’ ability to plan, implement, and assess using GCAs. However, wide variations in knowledge of GCA use, along with differing attitudes towards the value of GCAs and PD, and reasons for engaging in PD impacted the PD process. Furthermore, the findings indicated that the teaching and learning culture within the school and teacher accountability and time were crucial features of the PLC, significantly influencing the teachers’ professional learning.

The findings of this study contribute to the existing body of knowledge by providing recommendations for PD opportunities to support teachers when attempting to implement innovative student-centred pedagogies such as GCAs that may be applied to educational settings in general. It provides suggestions concerning PD by proposing an effective model of PD that may potentially improve educational outcomes for teaching. Doing so presents a theoretical and conceptual framework that provides a guide to developing informed practice.

FoR codes (2008)

130210 Physical Education and Development Curriculum and Pedagogy



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.