Understanding whole school physical activity transition from a practice theory perspective

Fiona Spotswood, Triin Vihalemm, Marko Uibu, Leene Korp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
56 Downloads (Pure)


In this study, the authors offer a practice theory framing of school physical activity transition with conceptual and managerial contributions to whole school approaches (WSAs).

Based on a literature overview of the limitations of WSA, ecological and systems theorisation and a practice theory framing of physical activity, the authors introduce a model that identifies signs of practice transition and conceptualises the relationship between signs and practice reconfigurations. To exemplify insights from the model, the authors provide illustrations from three cases from the national Estonian “Schools in Motion” programme.

The signs of practitioner effort, resistance and habituation indicate how practice ecosystem transition is unfolding across a spectrum from practice differentiation to routinisation. Several signs of transition, like resistance, indicate that reconfigured practices are becoming established. Also, there are signs of habituation that seemingly undermine the value of the programme but should instead be celebrated as valuable evidence for the normalisation of new practices.

Practical implications
The article provides a model for WSA programme managers to recognise signs of transition and plan appropriate managerial activities.

The practice theory framing of school physical activity transition advances from extant theorizations of WSAs that have failed to account for the dynamic ways that socio-cultural change in complex school settings can unfold. A model, based on a practice ontology and concepts from theories of practice, is proposed. This recognises signs of transition and can help with the dynamic and reflexive management of transition that retains the purpose of systemic whole school change.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)523-539
Number of pages17
JournalHealth Education
Issue number5
Early online date13 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jul 2021

Structured keywords

  • MGMT Marketing and Consumption


  • Whole school approach
  • Physical activity
  • Social practice theory


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