Dipl. Päd. Christopher Paul Steffen Mihajlovic


Thesis title: "Responding to Diversity in Physical Education - An analysis of the Finnish National Curriculum and the teachers’ perspective"

Thesis outline: The main research interest in this publication-based PhD thesis is to examine what impact the national reforms associated with the current Finnish core curriculum have had on the push for a greater emphasis on inclusivity in physical education classes. Like many other countries, Finland makes inclusivity (fairness and equity) an explicit dimension of effective educational provision. Despite the expanding international support for the idea of inclusion, this concept encompasses various definitions and has been interpreted differently. In Finland, the national curriculum builds upon a broad understanding of inclusion, capturing any group of students and as a way of responding to diversity among learners and is thus not limited solely on children with disabilities. At the practical level, however, the conceptualisation and implementation of inclusive practices seems not to be in line with the policy documents. Interested in the translation of curriculum rhetoric, this research project focuses on how the curriculum frames the teachers’ possibilities to respond to diversity.  To validate the findings, multiple types of material are gathered through different research methods. First, the current Finnish National Curriculum of physical education (PE) is qualitatively content analysed to identify how the PE curricula responds to the individual abilities and needs of all children, particularly regarding the highly relevant aspects of previous research, including the understanding of performance, possible adaptions of physical activities and methods of student assessment. Second, a case study is conducted with the intention of developing understandings about inclusive pedagogies for PE from the perspective of PE teachers based on semi-structured interviews and participant observation.

Supervisor & Co-Mentor: Stefan Meier