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This study was undertaken to examine how coaches and teachers can contribute to making sport and physical education more fun for children. Twenty‐four retrospective accounts resulted in five major themes: (1) personal characteristics of instructors/coaches, (2) learning environments, (3) peak moments in low‐organised activities, (4) social aspects, and (5) lessons from negative experiences. Results are discussed in relation to fun, enjoyment and happiness in youth sport and physical education.
Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise
Vol. 1, No. 3, November 2009, 210–220
ISSN 1939-8441 print/ISSN 1939-845X online
© 2009 Taylor & Francis
DOI: 10.1080/19398440903192290
Remembering instructors: play, pain and pedagogy
William B. Strean*
Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, University of Alberta, P-408 Van Vliet Centre,
Edmonton, AB, T6G 2H9, Canada
Taylor and Francis LtdRQRS_A_419402.sgm
(Received 27 April 2009; final version received 17 June 2009)
10.1080/19398440903192290Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise1939-8441 (print)/1939-845X (online)Original Article2009Taylor &
This study was undertaken to examine how coaches and teachers can contribute to
making sport and physical education more fun for children. Twenty-four
retrospective accounts resulted in five major themes: (1) personal characteristics
of instructors/coaches, (2) learning environments, (3) peak moments in low-
organised activities, (4) social aspects, and (5) lessons from negative experiences.
Results are discussed in relation to fun, enjoyment and happiness in youth sport
and physical education.
Keywords: instruction; coaching; physical education; fun
Many of us who work in the area of youth sport and physical education are well-aware
that the primary reason for children to participate in sport is ‘to have fun’. Among the
factors associated with fun in physical activity are attributes of instructors. In the quest
for understanding what makes sport and physical education more fun for children, this
study was undertaken to examine instructors’ qualities that provided participants with
a sense of fun, play and enjoyment. It may come as a little surprise that as questions
were asked of prospective participants for this study, some were not immediately
forthcoming with positive examples of teachers and coaches, but were eager to offer
a story about a negative experience. As this study unfolded, the initial intention to find
masterful teachers and coaches who brought joy to learning was meshed with the
emerging, participant-driven, desire to share stories of instructors who left them with
bad memories.
The famous quotation from Haim Ginott (1972) speaks about the dual nature and
influence that instructors can have in classrooms (as well as fields, gymnasia, etc.):
I have come to a frightening conclusion. I am the decisive element in the classroom. It
is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the
weather. As a teacher I possess tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or
joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor,
hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be
escalated or de-escalated, and a child humanized or de-humanized.
Instructors do a great deal to shape the learning environment and the experiences of
children. Their influence clearly has an impact on fun (or lack thereof) during the
learning. It may also be the case that the consequences of instructors’ attitudes and
Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise 211
behaviours may linger far beyond the interaction with children. There seems to be a
reasonably widely held view that early life experiences in sport and physical activity
may shape choices about later life participation. It seems that many teachers harbour
a belief similar to, ‘If my students have fun now, they’ll stay active as they get older’
(O’Reilly et al. 2001, p. 211).
Because of their central role in the learning process and the potential impact on
children’s developing attraction or repulsion to physical activity, it seemed useful to
seek to understand more about how individuals experienced their instructors. What do
teachers and coaches do to enhance fun and a sense of play? What do people remem-
ber about their instructors and how do they see their earlier experiences shaping their
later participation in physical activity? A retrospective approach was selected to
address these questions.
Overview of emergent design
A secondary contribution of this study may be the degree to which it illustrates a vari-
ety of components of an emergent design. Lincoln and Guba (1985) described emer-
gent design as a fundamental characteristic of naturalistic research. They suggested
that researchers allow their work to emerge rather than to construct it a priori because
it is not possible that enough could be known ahead of time to devise the design
The intent of this section is both to ‘come clean’ about the method and to reveal
important features of how qualitative research can unfold. When I began this study, I
wanted to find participants who could talk about wonderful teachers and coaches who
were masters at bringing play and fun to learning. I originally thought that I would
gather all the data for the study using one-on-one semi-structured interviews. Two
things centrally altered my plan. First, as I began to speak to people about my study
and share with them how I was seeking reflections and recollections about physical
education and sport experiences wanting to hear the stories about instructors who
had used games and created very positive environments – I had a few people say
something like (with pained tone): ‘I can tell you a story about my phys ed experi-
ences.’ Or perhaps: ‘I can tell you about a gym teacher I had what a jerk.’ Rather
than eschew the negative, my intuition was that I could learn about my fundamental
curiosity, about optimal teaching and learning experiences by talking to these people.
Second, when I was being interviewed by a reporter from a local newspaper, telling
him, again, about seeking to learn about teachers and coaches who exemplified how
to use play, fun, and games – I happened to mention that I had spoken to some people
who had very negative experiences. His ears perked up. We discussed various aspects
of the study and he agreed to put my office phone number and e-mail address in the
article, so that potential participants could contact me. When the article appeared on
the front page of the Sunday paper, the headline read, ‘Too many rules, not enough
fun: Bad experiences in sport last long after the game is over.’ Subsequently many of
the people who contacted me were those who had negative experiences in physical
education and sport. Their recollections are part of the story to be told here. In addi-
tion, I received several extended written accounts as a result of the article and the call
for comments and participants. Some of the poignant vignettes from those accounts
are important contributions to the data. One of the participants who wrote to me
suggested that some of her family and friends also would have useful accounts to
212 W.B. Strean
share with me; this led to a focus group (or group interview) which was an unintended,
but serendipitous way to collect data. From the interplay of the participants around a
table, came rich information and questions among participants that had me wonder
why I had not used this data collection procedure previously.
In summary, many of the putative advantages of an emergent design that I had
heard about years ago in graduate school (and have taught about in research methods
classes), came to pass in this study. The scope of retrospections and the results of this
study are more varied and valuable because of how the study unfolded.
Twenty-four participants provided data for this study. Seven of the participants were
recruited directly by the investigator using purposeful sampling (Lincoln and Guba
1985). Other participants were volunteers who responded to a request advertised in a
major newspaper as part of the above-mentioned article. The geographic range of
participants was a variety of locations in Canada and the USA (e.g. Ontario, British
Columbia, Alberta, California, Oregon). Males (n = 12) and females (n = 12) were
equally represented and the age range was 21–64.
Data collection
Data were collected through semi-structured interviews (Smith 1995, Seidman 1998),
a focus group and written accounts. Specifically, 11 participants in this study took part
in one semi-structured interview; three of those participants also provided written
accounts; six participants took part in a focus group, one of them also provided a
written account and seven participants solely provided written accounts.
Smith (1995) noted that semi-structured interviews are mainly helpful to gain a
detailed picture of the respondents’ beliefs about, or perceptions or accounts of, a
particular topic. Smith (1995) suggested the advantages of semi-structured interviews
are that they facilitate rapport/empathy, allow greater flexibility of coverage and
enable interviewers to enter novel areas, and they tend to produce rich data.
All the interviews were conducted by the author and lasted 90 minutes on an aver-
age. All the interviews were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. Depth-probe
questions were asked and follow-up questions were used to ask for clarification, to
seek concrete details and to request more information on what the participant was
saying (Seidman 1998).
Data analyses
Profiles of the participants (Seidman 1998) were developed that contained the most
relevant topics and ideas discussed in each interview. This process follows an idio-
graphic approach to analysis, beginning with particulars and slowly moving up to
generalisations (Smith 1995). In this way, it was possible to maintain a sense of
uniqueness and diversity of each case even when progressively emphasising common
elements in the participants’ experiences (Polkinghorne 1995). Profiles also made it
easier for the investigator to retrieve and compare meaningful data from different
participants at different stages of the analysis. There was a recursive movement
between similar instances in the data and the emerging conceptual categories during
the process of organising data according to commonalities (Polkinghorne 1995).
Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise 213
The final step in reducing and shaping the interview material involved the actual
write-up in the form of a report for publication. Results are reported in the form of my
interpretive analysis interspersed with verbatim extracts to illustrate my conclusions
(see Smith 1995). This strategy was chosen because of its potential to help the readers
‘see’ how the researcher drew conclusions about the data and how such conclusions
were grounded in the participants’ perceptions and experiences (Charmaz 1995, Ellis
The results will be presented to highlight five major themes: (1) personal characteristics
of instructors/coaches, (2) learning environments, (3) peak moments in low-organised
activities, (4) social aspects, and (5) lessons from negative experiences.
Personal characteristics of instructors/coaches
When participants explored factors that were related to positive experiences in sports
and physical education, a dominant theme was the personal characteristics of the indi-
viduals who served as instructors and coaches. Keeping in mind that the investigator
began with an interest in pedagogy and learning environments, it might be said that
this theme emerged in spite of the biases and subjectivities that may have been
present. Although the elements of how situations were structured were important, it
was the qualities of the leaders that seemed most salient. In a sense, the results were
consistent with the phrase: ‘I can’t hear what you are saying, because who you are
being is so loud.’ That is to say that the ‘personhood’ of the instructors and coaches
was more memorable than was the way in which learning was structured.
Many of the respondents’ comments suggested that they most enjoyed physical-
activity learning when the instructors were caring, involved, present, fair and
He was energetic, funny, he really enjoyed teaching, he interacted well with students and
he was active himself … it was an exciting, fun environment.
What I remember most was her enthusiasm for teaching …she was able to connect with
I think Mr. Swanson [note: name is a pseudonym] and his enthusiasm and love for what
he was doing … but the fact that I enjoy movement; I would tie that almost directly to
him. …This is a guy that was involved and invested in the process of teaching the
smile on the face, interaction with students and just the feeling that this is a person that
really wanted to be there.
Personal contact from the adult, coach or teacher with each student or kid, always in an
encouraging manner. By encouragement I don’t mean, you can win, you can win! I mean
encouraging the student to enjoy themselves.
Very positive … never embarrassed kids, someone that we could relate to.
Her involvement. She would not hesitate to get into the drill. When she was in the drill
she was having fun. She would be diving in the ground, but she would be having fun.
She would smile at the same time. Little competitive games that she would jump in on
214 W.B. Strean
you could see her desire or her passion about the game and that almost like transferred
over to us.
Other personal aspects that participants reported were, ‘always a sense of playfulness’,
‘always available, always caring’, ‘everybody was treated equally’, ‘innately fair …
Equal playing time’ and that the teacher was ‘always positive … Laughed and smiled’.
One participant captured the spirit of how pedagogical structures may have been
forgotten, yet the interpersonal impression remained, ‘but I don’t remember any of his
techniques, he was just a nice fellow’.
Learning environments
Although the salience of personal characteristics of teachers and coaches was promi-
nent, the participants offered many reflections that are indicative of what makes learn-
ing environments positive and attractive. With respect to structuring the learning,
three key themes that emerged were (1) providing variety, fun, games and novelty; (2)
providing adequate rules and strategy; and (3) fostering flow.
Providing variety, fun, games and novelty
There is a wealth of information showing that children’s primary reason for partici-
pation in sports is ‘to have fun’ and a primary motivator for disengaging from
sports is because ‘it’s not fun’ (e.g. Gould and Petlichkoff 1988, Ewing and
Seefeldt 1990, Weiss and Chaumeton 1992). Certainly fun was a major consider-
ation in describing positive learning environments. For example: ‘The bottom line
for me was that I always knew I was going to have a good time – he made it fun to
come to class.’
Other similar factors that were addressed were the importance of both variety and
novelty. Participants commented: ‘There were a multitude of different exercises.’,
‘There was a lot of movement and activity … I learned how to do new things.’, ‘I was
able to participate in … new games that were exciting.’
Previous research (e.g. Strean and Holt 2000) and the core of the Teaching Games
for Understanding perspective (TGfU, Bunker and Thorpe 1982, Holt et al. 2002)
support the relation of games and game-like activities being associated with fun and
enjoyment. Several comments in the present data align with this view. Positive aspects
of instructors who provided fun and enjoyment included, ‘He made a game out of
learning.’, and ‘She always seemed to find a way to have us play games to learn what-
ever it was we were doing.’. In contrast, teachers and coaches who were remembered
negatively were more likely to incorporate technical drills outside of game contexts.
‘I think the guy had stock in pylons. Yeah, I learned a lot – how to stand in a line, how
to dribble through cones with different kinds of balls. If I ever face an orange cone in
the middle of a game, I’m going to be prepared.’
Providing adequate rules and strategy
Although the experience of freedom or autonomy is often associated with fun and
enjoyment, various commentators (e.g. Huizinga 1950, Schmitz 1979) have explored
that the structure of games provides for the freedom and pleasure within the bound-
aries. Participants described that enjoyable learning environments included giving
Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise 215
adequate structure and directly instructing or attending to strategy, which is also
consistent with the suggestions from TGfU.
Similarly, strategy can be a real part of the joy of the game.
It was absolutely even and the reason that I really, really, really enjoyed football was
because there was always all these little conspiracies going on. And it is when you talk
about strategy, like that is how I really liked football because it was a strategising game.
In contrast, experiences where rules and strategies were not taught were remembered
as being painful and the lesson of what is important to do may be learned by noting
what it was like when not enough tactical instruction was provided.
One of the things that I remember about phys ed: I don’t remember the actual rules of
any of the sports ever really being clearly explained to us. I remember that it was
assumed that we all knew the rules of baseball, that we all knew rules and I did not know
rules, I would not know how to play the different positions, no one, I don’t have any
memory of any teacher saying, you know, for example in a soccer game if you play
defense this is what you should be thinking about, if you play forward this, I don’t
remember, it was all just assumed and then the way that you learned the rules was by
trial and error. That you would make a mistake and someone would blow the whistle and
then you know your team mates would scowl at you, your ignorance was exposed, and
that is why you learned the rules, no one actually ever explained what it was, maybe they
do explain them now, but I don’t remember ever having learned the rules.
Or as another participant wrote: ‘The rules were never taught to us – it was assumed
that everyone knew. The girls had to play with the boys whose superior strength made
it impossible for all but the most robust of the girls to succeed.’
Also supporting the importance of games and the context of strategy:
I can’t remember a single drill that we did and I think that in itself speaks volumes
because obviously I not only did I not learn them but I almost anti-learned them. It is you
know to just kind of block them out activity out of your, but they must have taught
drills. But that is all about technique, and what good is technique if you don’t understand
the underlining strategies in playing the game? What good is technique?
Fostering flow
In a simple sense, we might find that participants enjoy learning environments that are
designed to accommodate a balance of skills and challenges, or a basic sense of flow
(Csikszentmihalyi 1975, cf. Mandigo and Couture 1996). The sense of ‘creating and
being free to do what you want to do’ might also support autonomy and selection of
tasks that create a skill-challenge balance. An example of that feeling that would
enable more flow experiences is when a participant described that the activities in a
physical education class ‘were fast paced … appropriate for my skill level’.
One participant captured a common sentiment:
There were some classes that you would think were designed to show you what an inept
klutz you were. The best classes and the best practices that I remember – you could tell
the teacher or the coach was clued in to where we were at. They would have us do things
that weren’t too easy, but also didn’t have us look like a spaz … there was a nice balance.
The importance of the learning environments and how instruction is situated is worthy
of greater consideration in our understanding of optimal contexts (cf. Kirk and
MacPhail 2002).
216 W.B. Strean
Peak moments in low-organised games
In seeking to understand participants’ best experiences in physical education and
sport, they were asked to recall a time when they were really having fun and experi-
encing a sense of play. With one exception of a competitive wrestling experience, all
the participants described situations that were relatively low-organised such as a
‘wiffle ball game whether it is maybe with one buddy or with two or three buddies
where you are making up the rules’ or when ‘you invent some game and you start fool-
ing around and you do it until you, and you refuse to come in to eat. It is a powerful
thing which shows how fantastically joyful it is’.
Other examples of this kind of experience were:
We used to just play. He would play goalie and I played out and we used to just play and
play and play until it got too dark to see.
Football with my brother after school … Because it was orchestrated by us, we actually
took it really seriously.
The freedom of it, just being outside, … even when we played shinny hockey inside the
arena with the lines painted and stuff it wasn’t as playful as I remember just being on the
outdoor rink with no lines, wood boards and you shoot the puck over the boards and you
have to walk in the snow and go and get it. I think that, it was playful because it was free
and we played until we got tired and then we switched teams.
I adored playing football/street-hockey with my brother and his friends; we went at it
with gusto almost every night on the front lawn/road.
Other components of the most positively recalled experiences were the ‘motion, speed
… a little bit of risk’, ‘I love the novelty and challenge’, and physical sensations:
The fun I had was riding my bike by myself. That is the fun I had. Physical fun, I had a
bike and we lived in a hilly area and I used to just love to ride my bike, but it was always
by myself. [So what was fun about that?] Speed, wind going through my hair, freedom
and solitude.
What is most striking is that virtually all participants selected an experience outside
of a formal physical education class or youth sport experience when identifying their
most enjoyable memories, when they were having fun and experiencing play.
Social aspects
A fourth positive aspect of instructors and the good environments they created was
recognition of the importance of social aspects of sport and physical activity. One
participant noted that:
It is important to have more awareness on the part of the adult about the social interac-
tions going on during the play time but when you are working with kids, what you
are working with is a little person. So learning the game needs to be in service of the total
development of that little person.
Another comment was that ‘the social issues … are more important I can tell you that
right now than the game’.
Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise 217
Consistent with previous findings (e.g. Allen 2003), being with friends is a major
factor associated with the fun of sport and physical activity.
So there is some greater bond of friendship, which obviously makes playing the game …
more fun than if you are out there on your own just playing for the sake of playing. You
may enjoy the game, as a kid you always enjoy playing with friends and people you
know. This is part of the enjoyment.
As one participant put it simply, ‘as a kid you always enjoy playing with friends and
people you know. This is part of the enjoyment’.
Lessons from negative experiences
As an investigator, the most intriguing and poignant information emerged from indi-
viduals who had negative experiences in sport and physical education. These results
are striking in that participants frequently related experiences from many years ago,
but did so with strong emotions. These quotations may provide some important
considerations for professional practice:
To this day I feel totally inadequate in team-related activities and have a natural reflex
to AVOID THEM AT ALL COSTS largely because of humiliating experiences in
So, my major beef with the so-called physical education that I received as a kid is that it
robbed me of the joy of physical activity for many years. It did nothing whatever to
establish habits of balance in life between the cerebral and the physical. It did not
promote habits of physical and mental health that can be derived from participation in
physical play. Instead, the focus seemed to be on achieving excellence in a competitive
setting. It destroyed my physical confidence.
The exception to otherwise pleasant childhood play: those fucking gym classes. Drill,
verbal abuse, elitism, a sense of futility, and occasionally fear. Yuck.
I probably would have grown healthier if I had been left completely alone by adults in
terms of physical play.
I desperately wanted both of them [teachers] to spend more time with me and neither one
of them did.
I am a 51-year-old woman whose childhood experiences with sports, particularly as
handled in school, were so negative that even as I write this, my hands are sweating and
I feel on the verge of tears. I have never experienced the humiliation nor felt the antipathy
toward any other aspect of life as I do toward sports.
What should we conclude from these distressing quotations? The potential virtues of
physical-activity instruction are well-documented. Yet, the possible damage we can
cause as physical educators needs to be kept in mind. One might assume that the
teachers and coaches who instructed the participants who made these comments were
probably well-intentioned and believed in the value of what they were doing. The best
intentions can still lead to very negative outcomes. We need to keep looking, both as
individuals and at the structures of our learning environments, as we seek to raise the
ethical standards of our profession and seek to reduce or eliminate the heartrending
experiences some have had.
218 W.B. Strean
In some respects, the findings may be useful to highlight or to remind practitioners of
some key factors associated with creating positive and enjoyable learning experiences.
It may be constructive to contextualise these results and to offer some potential
linkages to theory to help to understand and apply the information.
Youth sport and physical education today
Now, as much as ever, it may be crucial to look at what it takes to create positive phys-
ical-activity learning experiences. The current context of youth sport and physical
education can lead us to raise serious questions about what children are experiencing.
U.S. News & World Report had a cover story on ‘Fixing kids’ sport: Why the fun is
gone and the players are quitting; What you can do’ (Cary 2004). Some of the disturb-
ing statistics include that 45% of youngsters have been called names, yelled at or
insulted while playing; 22% of children had been pressured to play while injured, and
an additional 18% said they had been hit, kicked or slapped while participating. ‘Not
surprisingly, the dropout rate of all children from organized sports is said to be 70
percent’ (p. 46). Furthermore, 44% of parents said that their child ‘had dropped out of
a sport because it made him or her unhappy’ (p. 50).
Theoretical and applied perspectives
It may be useful to consider what we have learned about fun and enjoyment and shift
our perspective slightly: What does it take to be happy in youth sport and physical
education? Ryan and Deci (2001), in their exploration of happiness, provided a useful
distinction between the hedonic perspective (which defines well-being in terms of
pleasure attainment and pain avoidance) and the eudamonic perspective (which
focuses on meaning and self-realisation). The concept of eudemonia may provide a
key to understanding the overall sense of enjoyment or fun that young athletes often
derive from sports and physical education, despite some unpleasant and painful times
they experience. In its best sense, physical-activity instruction can go beyond momen-
tary pleasure and it can provide long-term development and memories that provide
greater meaning for one’s life.
Another perspective that is both helpful in interpreting the data and in considering
their application, comes from Alfred North Whitehead (1929), who made one of the
few famous attempts to describe the development of learning over time. The first
stage he identified was ‘romance’, and he wrote about the importance of beginning all
learning with romance, with seeing the big picture, with understanding how whatever
it is that you are learning fits with your life. It is the time in which children see the
novelty of an activity. There is an emphasis on freedom, allowing children to see and
act for themselves. Romance, according to Whitehead, is an awakening or arousing
It is a time in the learning process when the learner does not care about rules and
details but is overcome with awe. There is playing, dabbling, experimenting – without
worry or concern about exactness. After this time of romance, the learner has a desire
to learn more, and begins paying attention to the details, is interested in exactly how
one accomplishes the task to become an expert. Now learners enter the stage of ‘preci-
sion’ which is a time when they pay attention to important details and rules and want
Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise 219
‘to make a good job of it’ (p. 35). Most importantly, Whitehead wrote, if one moves
into the stage of precision without the stage of romance, the learning is empty and
meaningless: ‘Without the adventure of romance, at the best you get inert knowledge
without initiative, and at the worst you get contempt of ideas without knowledge’
(p. 33). We might add, ‘or contempt of physical activity or movement, without
Participants’ comments about low-organised experiences and the sense of freedom
they felt fit with Whitehead’s view. One of the major implications that might be taken
from this study is that reducing the organisation and structure of physical activity may
result in greater fun and happiness. A great deal of the very significant problems that
seem rampant in children’s sports presently could be reduced or eliminated by creat-
ing the structures and atmosphere of activities that are low-organised and directed by
children themselves.
The work of Deci and Ryan (1985) might be of further use in considering the
participants’ reports. The factors associated with positive memories of sport and phys-
ical education follow closely the three organismic needs that Deci and Ryan (1985)
identified. The need for interpersonal relatedness can be seen in participants’ recogni-
tion of the importance of social aspects. The need for freedom or autonomy is
addressed by participants’ many comments about most enjoying those situations
where they were doing activities of their own choosing and under their own control.
The need for competence is perhaps most central in the experience of fun in the
achievement-oriented arena of physical-activity instruction. Participants’ notions and
comments above about the importance of a skill-challenge balance support the role of
competence. Other factors that have been noted as important (Alderman and Wood
1976), such as novelty and vertigo, were also reported.
Learning from mistakes
It would be difficult for a caring instructor, or anyone concerned about the status of
children’s physical-activity instruction, to read participants’ deeply emotional
comments and their negative experiences, and not take pause. Going back to Ginott’s
(1972) quotation, misery – if not torture – is a result that some instructors produced.
Any reminder of the tremendous power we hold as physical educators and youth sport
coaches is worthwhile. The participants’ words are powerful in this regard.
There is something beautiful, if not astonishing, about the joy and fulfilment that can
come from wonderful instruction in physical activity. One of the chief findings is that
‘who we are’ is often more important, and certainly more memorable, than what we
do. As Schmier (1995; paraphrasing Carl Jung) puts it, ‘If you want to be a teacher,
you have to put aside your formal theories, intellectual constructs, axioms, statistics,
and charts when you reach out to touch that miracle called the individual human
The preparation of this manuscript was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities
Research Council of Canada, grant #410-99-0351.
220 W.B. Strean
Notes on contributor
Billy Strean is an associate professor in the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation at
the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. One of his primary research interests
is fun and enjoyment in physical education, sport and leisure.
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... Retrospective, qualitative investigations (Coakley and White, 1992;Thompson et al., 2003;Allender et al., 2006;Strean, 2009) have shown that negative experiences of sport at school can have long-lasting detrimental impacts on the way people perceive their physical self. Physical Self-Concept Theory posits that we each have a set of inter-related self-perceptions or self-evaluations relating to physical ability, physiology, condition and involvement in physical activity (Hagger et al., 2005). ...
... In a Canadian study by Strean (2009), it was found that powerful negative experiences at school could last throughout life. Subjects reported memories of humiliation that destroyed their self-confidence. ...
... Another Canadian study of adults (Thompson et al., 2003) found that PE teachers had sometimes been complicit in excluding children who were not skilled at sports. Strean (2009) also found that the role teachers played was crucial to creating enjoyable experiences. Teachers who taught in a caring way, who were completely involved in lessons and strove to be fair and provide individualised learning experiences were related to positive memories. ...
Conference Paper
Leading a physically active lifestyle is known to provide a wide variety of health benefits, from reduced risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, to improved mental well-being and healthy weight maintenance. Despite this, the majority of adults are not sufficiently active to benefit health. Government has consistently sought to increase levels of physical activity in the population (as well as develop elite sport talent) by focusing policy on the promotion of traditional, competitive sport in schools. The main rationale for this approach is that children who play lots of sport in school will continue participating as adults. The academic literature has frequently criticised the focus on traditional, competitive sports, citing evidence that they have limited appeal to many children, exclude those with lower levels of skill and fitness, and may be counter-productive in terms of promoting lifelong activity. There is, however, scant prospective, quantitative evidence available to support either perspective. The research presented in this thesis uses longitudinal data from the 1970 British Cohort Study, and robust statistical methods, to identify how childhood experiences of sport and exercise develop between primary and secondary school, and how they are associated with adult exercise behaviour. Hypotheses based on government policy assertions and academic theory are tested. The findings provide little support for government policy: the cohort members’ participation in school sport was not independently associated with their exercise behaviour in adulthood. In contrast, there was consistent support for academic theory. Parental and family influences (posited by family socialisation theory) were consistently identified as key determinants of sport and exercise experiences, both in school and in adulthood. Likewise, an interest in physical fitness in childhood (i.e. intrinsic motivation, as described in self-determination theory) also affected adult exercise behaviour. The findings are used to suggest alternative approaches by which government might encourage physical activity in the population.
... Martinek (1981) clearly showed the role of PE teachers in the development of motor competence in children is to support the learning process of their students, placing them at the center of the educational process. PE teachers must create the appropriate learning climate, configure learning contexts, and select and offer the best learning experiences (Strean, 2009). In addition, teachers must generate expectations that significantly influence the perceptions that schoolchildren have of their own motor competence and give knowledge about the usefulness that this subject can have for their lives (Martinek, Holland, & Seo, 2019). ...
... In fact, this low motor competence might be still present in their professional activities and during their daily adult life. Strean (2009) highlighted in his study that the memory of the personality of teachers had been for these students more important than the learning activities that he/she could present in PE classes and dropout PE subject is not an option during primary and secondary school, which is compulsory up to a certain age. ...
... One of the participants used the sense of humor to narrate these painful situations, indicating with irony that when the team´s organization ocurred, he considered himself as a gift, a gift that nobody wanted, and that the teacher gave "this gift" obligatorily to a group that did not want it at all. Strean (2009) manifested that PE classes are contexts in which it is easy to develop perdurable memories of great emotional content. As this researcher indicated, it was a context where it was "robbed the taste for physical activities". ...
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The main purpose of this study was to analyze retrospectively the memories of a group of adults with low skills and the relationships between their memories and their physical education teachers during their school time. Ten adults (7 women and three men) participated in this study, aged between 25 and 56 years that declared to be low skilled during their school days. In order to carry out this study, a semi-strutured interview was conducted focusing the attention on obtaining memories of participants in their PE classes during their schoolage, and mainly their perceptions and feelings about their Primary and Secondary PE teachers. Results showed that the memories of behaviors and personality of their PE teachers were more important for participants than the learning from activities that their PE teachers taught. The feelings and emotions about his/her PE teachers were mostly negative, characterized by humiliation, abandon-ment, lack of help or indifference towards them. For these participants, their PE teachers did not live up to their needs. Knowing these memories had permitted the researchers to know a hidden part of the PE subject that is referred to a sector of the school population that shows low motor competence. Resumen El objetivo principal de este estudio fue analizar retrospectivamente los recuerdos de un grupo de adultos torpes y sus relaciones con sus profesores de educación física durante su época escolar. Diez adultos (7 mujeres y tres hombres) participaron en este estudio, con edades comprendidas entre 25 y 56 años, que declararon ser poco competentes en educación física durante sus años escolares. Para llevar a cabo este estudio, se desarrolló una entrevista semi-es-tructurada enfocada en obtener recuerdos de los participantes en sus clases de educación física, y principalmente sus percepciones y sentimientos sobre sus profesores de educación física tanto de primaria como de secundaria. Los resul-tados mostraron que los recuerdos de los comportamientos y de la personalidad de sus profesores de educación física eran más importantes para los participantes que las actividades de aprendizaje que estos profexdzsores les proponían. Estos sentimientos y emociones sobre sus profesores de educación física fueron en su mayoría negativos, caracte-rizados por la humillación, abandono, falta de ayuda o indiferencia hacia ellos. Para estos adultos, los profesores de educación física no supieron acometer sus necesidades. Conocer estos recuerdos permite conocer una parte oculta de la asignatura y que se refiere a un sector de la población escolar que muestra baja competencia y torpeza en las clases. Ruiz, L. M.; Gómez, M. A.; Palomo-Nieto, M., & Navia-Manzano, J. A. (2020). The Functional Movement Screen's Relation to Young Tennis Players' Injury Severity. RICYDE. Revista internacional de ciencias del deporte. 60(16), 112-125. https://doi.
... Considering this issue, previous studies have reported on the lasting negative impacts of adverse childhood PE experiences [40,41], but have been limited by methodological weaknesses such as intentional sampling or the use of specific populations. This study aims to analyse the relationship between parents' past experience as PE students with the importance they give to PE within the school curriculum. ...
... Previous studies have identified certain past specific negative experiences (i.e., being the last one chosen for a team) that could lead to the adoption of negative beliefs towards PA and to low levels of participation during adulthood [40,41]. Although this research has adopted a different methodological strategy, based on a global evaluation of parents' past experience as PE students to establish the necessary balance between positive and negative experiences, the results obtained agree with those previously observed, whereby it could be stated that the negative experiences related to PE could determine both their value judgements and the behaviour they adopt in later life stages. ...
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The aim of this study was to analyse the relationship between parents' past experience as Physical Education (PE) students and the importance they give to PE within the school curriculum. Parents of 1834 teenagers from Spain and Portugal participated in the study (1834 fathers and 1834 mothers). An 11 item questionnaire was used for data collection. The measures studied were: socio-demographic characteristics, parent´s past experience as PE students, and importance that parents gave to PE in the school curriculum. The results suggest that parents' past experiences as PE student condition their evaluation of the importance that PE should have in the school curriculum. As the past experience as PE student deteriorated and as age increased, there was an increase in the probability that parents evaluate PE as deserving a less important status in their children's curriculum. These findings can contribute to understanding how the parents' past experiences as PE students seem to partially model the value judgements that they make later in life regarding the importance of the subject.
... With young people's commitment or interest in PA or sport being profoundly shaped by their school experiences in PE [4][5][6][7], this necessitates that those teaching PE in schools, must endeavour to foster the innate predisposition that young people have for moving and place movement of any kind central to all lesson objectives. However, while the subject has the opportunity to form enduring, positive memories and to inspire lifelong involvement, clearly, it conversely also has the influence to do the complete opposite by fashioning young people who are inactive, lack self-confidence, and avoid PA at all costs [8,9]. It is evidence such as this which indicates PE is not currently appropriate for all and requires change [10]. ...
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High quality Physical Education should instigate and support all learners to develop into a lifelong participant in a way which upkeeps their own health, fitness, and well-being. There are, however, an ever-increasing number of children who drop out of participating in physical activities at the earliest opportunity, leading to an increase in sedentary lifestyles and a rise in childhood obesity. It is evidence such as this which indicates Physical Education, specifically in England, is not currently appropriate for all and requires change. To attempt to make the subject a more positive experience for all and to inspire lifelong involvement, varying the curriculum and including alternative activities for pupils might tap into useful wider cultures. This paper discusses the emergence of alternative sports, the challenges and synergies of implementation, and focuses on what could work and why.
... In the sports psychology literature there is a wealth of information that identifies "fun" as an important motivator for both children"s and adults" participation in sport (For example: Kilpatrick, Hebert, & Bartholomew, 2005;Koivula, 1999;Strean, 2009). In this study, all of the participants either talked about "fun" or wrote about it in their diaries. ...
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There are very few in-depth studies that have focused on the impact of motherhood and sports participation, and no studies within the 'lifestyle sports' literature which have explicitly focused on mothers. The purpose of this study is to explore the experiences of mothers who snowboard. The thesis explores from a poststructural perspective, the experiences of eight mothers, resident in Aotearoa/New Zealand, who snowboard. In particular, Michel Foucault's ideas regarding discourse, power and 'technologies of the self' afforded a useful heuristic for examining the women's talk about motherhood and snowboarding and the practices they engage in as they negotiate the two. The study draws primarily on diary and interview texts gathered during the 2008 winter snow season. I present my interpretation of the women's 'collective stories' (Richardson, 1990), with the intention of raising the profile of nonconformist performances of motherhood.
... Of all the groups that have been studied, the students in physical education classes are affected the most, both negatively and positively, by AIP. Strean (2009) studied negative experiences of adults when they were students in physical education classes. The following are statements adults made regarding their physical education experience. ...
Full-text available
The National Association of Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) have created three documents (elementary, middle school and high school) to guide physical educators in appropriate instructional practices (AIP) in physical education. The purpose of these documents is to aid physical educators in exposing their students to lessons and activities that will enable them to be successful in physical education classes and physical activity. Unfortunately, many students have been exposed to such activities as dodge ball, having captains picking teams in front of the whole class, and many others. This paper is a review of research dealing with appropriate instructional practices in physical education with a multitude of different populations. From these different populations, eight instructional practices have been repeatedly misidentified. These eight repeat offenders will be discussed.
... Cardinal, Yan y Cardinal (2013) se preguntan cuánto pueden afectar las experiencias negativas en la EF y el deporte a la práctica física en la vida adulta, porque está claro que las experiencias positivas se asocian con pensamientos y sentimientos positivos y atractivos para las personas, mientras que las experiencias negativas se encuentran asociadas con sentimientos negativos y aversivos. Dicen estos autores que los contextos de la EF y el deporte pueden proporcionar oportunidades para fijar las experiencias en la memoria, y existe evidencia de que éstas producen mayor fijación cuando son malas, tal como refiere Strean (2009). Otros autores se han centrado más en los efectos positivos de las experiencias en EF sobre la participación en actividades físicas fuera de la escuela y a lo largo de la vida (Carroll & Loumidis, 2001;Kirk, 2005;Thompson, 2008). ...
El objetivo de este trabajo ha sido analizar las relaciones entre la percepción del clima motivacional de la clase, las experiencias en educación física y la motivación intrínseca de los alumnos. Una muestra de 2189 alumnos de 13 a 17 años de edad completó las versiones españolas de la Escala de Percepción del Clima Motivacional (PMCS) y el Cuestionario de Motivación Intrínseca (IMI). Además, los alumnos aportaron una valoración de sus experiencias en educación física. Los resultados han mostrado que los factores más relacionados con la motivación intrínseca de los alumnos han sido la percepción del clima de maestría y las experiencias en educación física. Por el contrario, la percepción del clima de ejecución se ha mostrado más relacionada con la tensión-presión de los alumnos. Estos resultados se han discutido en el marco de la teoría de las orientaciones de meta y de la teoría de la autodeterminación y en términos de su contribución a potenciar la motivación de los adolescentes en educación física, de cara al compromiso con la práctica física y la instauración de estilos de vida activos y perdurables a lo largo del tiempo.Palabras clave: Adolescentes, clima de maestría, clima de ejecución, educación física, motivación intrínseca.Abstract: The aim of this study was to analyze relationships among perceived motivational class climate, physical education experiences and pupils’ intrinsic motivation in physical education lessons. A sample of 2189 pupils, ages 13 to 17 years, completed the Spanish versions of the Perception of Motivational Climate Scale (PMCS) and the Intrinsic Motivation Inventory (IMI). Furthermore, pupils reported an assessment of their experiences in physical education. Results showed that the factors most related with pupils’ intrinsic motivation were the perception of mastery climate and the physical education experiences. On the contrary, the perception of performance climate was related with pupils’ tension-pressure. These results were discussed within the framework of achievement goal theory, the self-determination theory and in terms of their contribution to increase adolescents’ motivation in physical education, in order to engagement in physical practices and longtime healthy lifestyles. Key words: Adolescents, mastery climate, performance climate, physical education, intrinsic motivation
... In the sports psychology literature there is a wealth of information that identifies "fun" as an important motivator for both children"s and adults" participation in sport (For example: Kilpatrick, Hebert, & Bartholomew, 2005;Koivula, 1999;Strean, 2009). In this study, all of the participants either talked about "fun" or wrote about it in their diaries. ...
In identifying the limited understanding of creativity within sports coaching and performance, but more pertinently the paucity of how creativity could be coached (Light & Harvey, 2015; Light, 2013; Memmert, 2015), this research proposes and presents ‘Game Gain’ as an orientation that will aim to better accommodate attempts to contextually understand creativity and related coaching behaviours. This research presents conceptualisations of Creativity, Autonomy and Tactical Sense (CATS) as part of Game Gain orientation, and within a case study methodology that engages with (n=2) professional football coaches to explore perspectives and attitudes upon their coaching behaviours as they are; observed, reflectively reviewed and analysed in video review; as to forge new contextual understandings of Creativity, Autonomy and Tactical Sense, and also conceptualise coaching behaviour in relation to CATS and the orientation of Game Gain. Within football and team sports generally, creativity has been viewed as playing and performance moments of; flair, dazzling runs, ball trickery or game-winning actions (Memmert, 2011; Memmert & Roth, 2007). Then within coaching realms, these aspects have focussed on coaching behaviours that would focus training upon skill and technique of performance in playing (Light, 2015; Williams & Hodge, 2005). The focus upon the physical, and mainly involve being in possession of the ball or directly involved in action, has detracted away from the wider, tactical sense, and the engagement and connectedness that would exist, to consider greater cognitive participation (Light & Harvey, 2015; Light, Harvey & Mouchet, 2014). Football coaching culture and the education that has supported these thoughts, English football coaching has been dominated by (what has been labelled) ‘traditional coaching’ (Light & Robert, 2010; Light & Fawns, 2003; Lyle, 2002, Nelson, Cushion & Potrac, 2012; Piggot, 2011) as instructional and didactic coaching behaviours (Light, 2013). This has particularly been the case in elite settings such as professional clubs’ academies that are very often target and hard data driven – with high role objective pressures and 5 often not normally permitting coaches to engage in their own continuing learning and development (Armour, 2011; Lyle & Cushion, 2010; Lyle, 2002). Through the concepts and principles of Game Gain, this research identifies and operationally defines: in possession; with the ball, at-action, and also near and away from the ball and action. Then also: out of possession; ataction, near action and far from the action, and all applied decision-making (Light, Harvey & Mouchet, 2014; Mouchet, 2005). The identified variants of potential coachable moments that are conversely off-the-ball or away from the action and the associated coaching behaviours, are key to instigating stimulated recall and video reflection and analysis for coaches, and possibly challenge their own coaching behaviours. CATS (Game Gain) is proposed to conceptually orient coaches’ understandings on how they interact with their players with apposite coaching behaviours that could align coaching performance more effectively to the definitions offered for Creativity, Autonomy and Tactical Sense for player learning, development and performance. The case study research engaged with n=2 coaches using multiple-perspective video recordings (8 sessions of 40 minutes) for postsession reviews (40 minutes duration) and through stimulated recall to identify with key or indicative moments for; observation, reflection and analysis. This data was then inductively coded according to Lichtman’s (2010) 3C’s approach, from which rich conceptual high-level themes emerged that included; coaches’ review narratives yielded a paradigmatic shift from reflection to analysis, noticing their (often silent) coaching behaviours that related to players’ cognitive involvement regardless of being on-the-ball, offthe-ball or near or away from the action and in or out of possession, and often related decision-making. It is to identify and recognise that engaging coaches to reflect and analyse upon their coaching behaviour is to generate awareness and understanding of coaching behaviours in relation to players’ opportunity to learn, develop ad perform. This is a pertinent aspect of affording creativity conceptual and contextual definition for this research as Game Gain orientation for coaching behaviours in relation to the ideas of Creativity, Autonomy and Tactical Sense.
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Children are living more sedentary lifestyles today than ever before in America. Physical education teachers need to be our leaders for change by promoting the importance of maintaining a healthy body and mind in today’s youth and promoting life-long physically activity. This article helps to shape the mind of a physical educator and gives them a “don’t” list to make sure are not happening in their classes, if they want students to have a positive PE experience and potentially go on to be life-long physically active learners. From not letting the students pick their own teams to not playing games that eliminate them from competition, the role that the PE teacher plays in shaping students life-long beliefs about the joy of exercise is substantial.
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Youth sport participants frequently report social reasons for their involvement in sport such as wanting to be part of a team or to be with friends, and social sources of positive and negative affect such as social recognition and parental pressure. Although a social view of sport has been recognized, youth sport motivation researchers have emphasized approaches centered on constructs related to physical ability and have not examined the social aspect of motivation in detail. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine the contribution that social goal orientations and perceptions of belonging make toward understanding youth sport motivation. Specifically, female adolescents' (N = 100) social motivational orientations, achievement goal orientations, perceived belonging, perceived physical ability, and interest in sport were assessed. Results from multiple regression analyses indicated that social motivational constructs added to the explanation of adolescents' interest in sport.
I: Background.- 1. An Introduction.- 2. Conceptualizations of Intrinsic Motivation and Self-Determination.- II: Self-Determination Theory.- 3. Cognitive Evaluation Theory: Perceived Causality and Perceived Competence.- 4. Cognitive Evaluation Theory: Interpersonal Communication and Intrapersonal Regulation.- 5. Toward an Organismic Integration Theory: Motivation and Development.- 6. Causality Orientations Theory: Personality Influences on Motivation.- III: Alternative Approaches.- 7. Operant and Attributional Theories.- 8. Information-Processing Theories.- IV: Applications and Implications.- 9. Education.- 10. Psychotherapy.- 11. Work.- 12. Sports.- References.- Author Index.
"The book is useful in that it focuses upon techniques and provides 'tasters' of qualitative methodologies and encourages readers to try the methods for themselves in their own research projects. It is well-referenced and directs the reader to other sources of information should they wish to pursue their interests. It is worthwhile in that it encourages the reader to take a wider perspective than the quasi-experimental methods presented in most methodology texts at this level. The authors presented encourage us to develop new ways of working and using data." --Ann Llewellyn in History and Philosophy of Psychology Newsletter This accessible book introduces key research methods that challenge psychology's traditional preoccupation with "scientific" experiments. The wide-scale rejection of conventional theory and method has led to the evolution of different ways to gather and analyze data. Rethinking Methods in Psychology provides a lucid and well-structured guide to key effective methods, which not only contain the classic qualitative approaches but also offer a reworking of quantitative methods to suit the changing picture of psychological research today. Leading figures in the research arena focus on research in the real world, language and discourse, dynamic interactions, and persons and individuals. They also guide the reader through the main stages of conducting a study. This is an essential volume for anyone interested in doing research in psychology without relying on positivist tradition, as well as students and scholars in communication, management, and nursing.
Narrative inquiry refers to a subset of qualitative research designs in which stories are used to describe human action. The term narrative has been employed by qualitative researchers with a variety of meanings. In the context of narrative inquiry, narrative refers to a discourse form in which events and happenings are configured into a temporal unity by means of a plot. Bruner (1985) designates two types of cognition: paradigmatic, which operates by recognizing elements as members of a category; and narrative, which operates by combining elements into an emplotted story. Narrative inquiries divide into two distinct groups based on Bruner's types of cognition. Paradigmatic‐type narrative inquiry gathers stories for its data and uses paradigmatic analytic procedures to produce taxonomies and categories out of the common elements across the database. Narrative‐type narrative inquiry gathers events and happenings as its data and uses narrative analytic procedures to produce explanatory stories.