Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Education Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Aaron Beighle

Second Advisor

Dr. Heather Erwin


The objective of this study was to explore the perceptions physical educators had of a phenomenon: professional development (PD). Specifically, the study sought to understand the following question: how do physical educators perceive PD? Said in the spirit of phenomenological research, this study aimed to explore the lived experience of PD from the perspective of elementary physical education teachers. Subsequent research questions included: (a) How do physical educators perceive PD in relation to their physical education program’s role in public health?; (b) What perceptions, including potential barriers and facilitators, do physical educators have of PD?; and (c) In what ways do physical educators use PD to improve upon both teaching practices and student learning? Participants included ten elementary physical education teachers employed in the same county in the Southeast United States. A lengthy, open-ended interview between the researcher and all ten participants was the only source of data. Data were analyzed using a phenomenological approach, more specifically Hycner’s phenomenological five-step data explication process. The data explication process revealed four common themes as well as a variety of sub-themes across all participants. The four themes were analyzed to gain a true understanding of the lived experiences of physical educators’ PD. Those themes were: (a) PD for Professional Growth – A search for meaning; (b) Accessibility, (c) I Matter!, and (d) Relationships. Overall the study highlights the integral and often-personal role PD has in the lives of the study’s participants. The insights from this study may inform education policy makers, school districts, school administrators, and designers of educator PD to improve the overall PD experience of practicing educators.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)