First Advisor

Parker, Melissa A.

Second Advisor

Smith, Mark A.

Document Type


Date Created



The purpose of this study was to examine physical education teacher education (PETE) teacher candidates’ perceptions about and implementation of caring during eight-week student teaching experiences. The specific research questions were: (a) How do caring teacher candidates perceive and define caring? and (b) How do caring teacher candidates implement caring behaviors throughout their eight-week student teaching assignments? In line with the research questions, a qualitative case study approach was used. Participants were two PETE caring physical education teacher candidates from the same program. Data sources included semi-structured interviews, informational conversational interviews, field notes, documents, and research journals. Data were analyzed using open and axial coding for single case and cross-case analysis. Findings indicated teacher candidates’ perceptions about and implementation of caring were at two levels: caring for students as people and caring for students as learners. Positive personality traits, recognizing students as individuals, and establishing relationships with students addressed teacher candidates’ caring for students as people. Caring for students as learners represented teacher candidates’ caring with respect to pedagogical-related caring: preparing lesson plans carefully and creating a positive learning environment. Overall findings implied teacher candidates’ caring addressed the first two parts of Nodding’s (1984) ethic of care: recognition of students’ needs and building relationships. It appeared it was easy for teacher candidates to share their perceptions about caring but harder for them to put into practice the ideas they presented. They developed perceptions of caring for students as people more than caring for students as learners. In general, it begs the questions as to whether or not current practices in physical education regarding the ethic of care are being utilized enough to make a positive impact on every individual student’s learning.


Ethic of care, Pedagogical skills, Physical education, Teacher education, Scripted lesson plan, Social constructivism


214 pages

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