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Front. Educ., 22 September 2023
Sec. Teacher Education
Volume 8 - 2023 |

Perspectives on social justice when becoming a teacher-researcher in the practicum: insights from physical education teacher education

  • 1ProEF, Institute of Physical Education and Sports, Federal University of Ceará, Fortaleza, Brazil
  • 2Physical Education Postgraduate Program, Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, Natal, Brazil
  • 3Federal Institute of Education, Science, and Technology at Rio Grande do Sul, Rolante, Brazil
  • 4Institute of Education Sciences, Federal University of Pará, Belém, Brazil
  • 5ProEF, Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology at Sul de Minas, Muzambinho, Brazil
  • 6Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology at Ceará, Fortaleza, Brazil
  • 7Physical Education Postgraduate Program, São Judas Tadeu University, São Paulo, Brazil
  • 8School of Curriculum and Pedagogy, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

Understanding the role teachers must play in fostering social justice is one of many tasks student teachers learn on practicum. This self-study is a collaborative endeavour between eight Brazilian teacher-researchers who work in multiple teaching positions and settings in different regions of the country. Our assumption within the broader research scope is that being a teacher-researcher has commonalities related to social justice whether teaching in K-12 schools or higher education. We have reconfigured a collaborative, four-stage methodological approach to practitioner research. In this paper, we investigate how one teacher-researcher and university professor – Luiz, the first author – has been transforming his practice towards social justice through the self-study of teacher education practices. His initial dilemma concerned his students’ practicum experiences. Through the prompting of his co-authors and critical friends, Luiz reflected on his decisions and assumptions. He presented his analysis to the group which generated the discussion which forms the basis of this paper. The contribution this paper makes is two-fold. One is to exemplify the rigorous method we used to generate alternative perspectives through self-study. The other is to explore the impact of deeply seated social injustices on our teacher education practices.

1. Introduction

Social justice has become a strong theme in physical education with many advocating for teachers to orient their physical education programs and practices towards teaching about and for social justice (Azzarito et al., 2017; Hickey et al., 2019; Philpot et al., 2021; Gerdin et al., 2022). Related to this is the concern that contemporary physical education reflects neoliberal practices that contribute to limiting young people’s access to meaningful, holistic and empowering schooling experiences that lead to enhanced educational and wellbeing outcomes (Azzarito et al., 2017). This concern is replicated in physical education teacher education (PETE) where there is a substantial history of scholars advocating for student teachers to challenge the status quo, value multiple perspectives and knowledges, develop a critical consciousness and take action to enhance equity, democracy and social justice in their future teaching (Hill et al., 2022). However, while there has been much advocacy for social justice as both process and goal of PETE, it is less clear how this process is enacted or how successful students are at translating this into classroom practice (Shelley and McCuaig, 2018; Gerdin et al., 2021; Filgueiras et al., 2023; Flor et al., 2023). With this in mind, this paper is part of a broader project that seeks to better understand the pedagogies and practices that help prepare student teachers with the dispositions, skills and knowledge to take critical actions to transform school physical education to become more socially just. Specifically, we focus in this paper on the experiences of Luiz, the lead author, as he orchestrates a practicum experience for his PETE students to foster their social justice sensibilities.

Achieving a coherent definition of social justice in physical education scholarship is difficult. There are a range of theoretical perspectives and movements through which social justice can be conceptualized (Hill et al., 2022). For the purpose of this study, we start with a working definition of social justice as the concept of ensuring that all individuals and groups within a society have fair and equitable access to resources, opportunities and rights, regardless of their backgrounds or identities (Sensoy and DiAngelo, 2017). This represents a fundamental commitment to addressing and transforming systemic inequities and injustices that may arise from factors such as race, gender, class, sexual orientation and ability, among others. However, when social injustices are so structurally normalized, as in Brazil, it seems to be more common to focus on, and address, socially-unjust issues that advocate for social justice within schooling (Flor et al., 2023).

Freire (1996) argues that for true social justice to flourish, it is necessary to create a society where people have the power to shape their own lives and communities. He believed that education should be liberatory, empowering students to think critically and to take action to transform their communities rather than perpetuating a hierarchical system of dependency and unequal power dynamics. Physical education teachers operating under a social justice paradigm seek to create a more equitable and inclusive educational experience by advocating for the rights of marginalized and oppressed communities and enabling physically active and healthy citizens who in turn contribute to the wellbeing of society as a whole (Wright, 2004). However, achieving a socially-just PETE globally is also challenging due to the precarisation or lack of stability, security and predictability in employment as a result of neoliberal policies (Kirk, 2020).

In terms of impact, the evidence points to the difficulty of transforming students’ beliefs and subjectivities (e.g., Muros Ruiz and Fernández-Balboa, 2005) as well as limited evidence of any longer-term change on students’ pedagogy once in a school (Mordal-Moen and Green, 2012; Gerdin et al., 2018). Despite this, there has been a strong interest in exploring transformative learning opportunities that challenge taken-for-granted frames of reference and open student teachers up for possible change. For example, in their review of pedagogical practices related to social justice in PETE, Walton-Fissette et al. (2018) identify that teacher educators use a range of intentional and explicit pedagogies, as well as utilizing “teachable moments” to help educate about sociocultural issues. As indicated by the evidence on their longer-term impact, while such pedagogies are important to raising awareness on social justice issues and concepts are necessary, the knowledge, skills, and attitudes gained only have value to the extent that they can translate to meaningful action in school settings. It is the potential of practicum to provide situated and applied learning opportunities that are explored in more depth in this paper.

Practicum is often the first opportunity for student teachers in teacher education programs to work alongside, and with, experienced teachers and be immersed in the culture and problems of everyday practice. The practicum provides an ideal location for students to investigate the nature of school environments and appreciate the diversity and complexity of modern schools (Zeichner, 1986). However, as Gore (2001) argues, “more field experience in and of itself is not necessarily better for pre-service teachers” (p. 126). The need is for a practicum experience that is coherent with and contextualizes the coursework, encourages ongoing inquiry and reflection by the student teacher, provides opportunities to work with collaborating teachers to help pre-service teachers grapple with questions raised by their experience, and is long enough to provide meaningful experience with teaching diverse students. With respect to PETE, there are few examples of reconfiguring the practicum. One example is the way Ovens (2004) used action research and peer coaching to restructure the practicum for 12 final-year physical education students. Analysis of the students’ perspectives showed that they felt the alternative provided a purpose to the practicum, increased the level of theorizing and thinking they did about their teaching, gave them more autonomy over decision making and provided quality supervision and feedback. While there was a clear benefit to structuring the practicum in this way, there was a need for a collaborating teacher who could assist with the active inquiry and reflection components of the process.

Recognizing that practicum situates student teachers in the realities of schooling, means also making decisions around which schools and which experiences will provide meaningful learning opportunities for student teachers. In the Brazilian context, there are examples of turning the PETE practicum into a rich experience to foster the students’ critical thinking towards a socially-just pedagogical stance (Mendes and Betti, 2017; Vedovatto et al., 2020; Souza Neto and Cyrino, 2022). The first two authors of this paper work collaboratively at the same university. Both have been confronting idealism in their efforts to organize the practicum experience (Sanches Neto et al., 2018; Venâncio and Sanches Neto, 2019; Venâncio et al., 2022). Their students learn how to inquire into their developing teaching practices by being co-supervised in classes with teachers who are teacher-researchers. In this paper, we outline the self-study method we have used to collaboratively understand dilemmas that have perturbed us as teacher-researchers. We have chosen to focus on Luiz’s experience of supervising three student teachers on practicum. We describe the context of his dilemma and then discuss the themes that arose from the four-stage method that we used. Luiz considers his reflections in light of the discussions with his colleagues. Finally, we present what the implications might be for other teacher educators.

2. Methodological choices

This paper emerges from a collaborative self-study conducted by the 10 co-authors who are drawn together from various teaching positions, regions and countries by their common interest in critical pedagogy and exploring how to enact more socially just educational practices. Luiz has been a member of this autonomous knowledge community for about 18 years (2005–2023) and the group has provided a safe space for sharing and discussing incidents critical to their teaching (Sanches Neto et al., 2017, 2018, 2022). As Hamilton (2004) notes, making practices public and open for critique can only happen when there is a high level of trust. Once this trust forms, the opportunity to openly share experiences, challenge and question assumptions, and expose colleagues and students to new ways of thinking, and support extending insights to a broader audience through conference presentations and publications all becomes a part of engaging in a collaborative self-study process (Hamilton, 2004).

Collaborative self-study – or more formally known as the Self-Study of Teacher Education Practices (S-STEP) – is a form of inquiry that is broadly characterized as improvement aimed, interactive, employing a range of primarily qualitative methods and undertaken to make its findings available to the professional community (LaBoskey, 2004). In terms of its potential for our work, we are drawn to three features of self-study in particular. The first is that self-study involves the teacher-researcher adopting an inquiry-oriented stance towards their “self-in-practice.” This often requires finding a way to step back from the immediacy of practice so one can question and theorize what they are doing (Fletcher and Ovens, 2015). The second is that self-study involves risk and possibly discomfort when one’s personal beliefs and practices become challenged (Fletcher and Ovens, 2015). This is why a supportive community of critical friends is so central to conducting an effective self-study (Olan and Edge, 2018). Thirdly, self-study leads to social action because “knowing more about ourselves as teachers and teacher educators changes us, provokes growth, jolts us out of complacency – sometimes radically, in ways that can seem transformative” (Pithouse et al., 2009, p. 48). It was also appropriate for structuring inquiry around the practicum. As Thomas (2017) noted in her work, learning as teacher educators about our own practice in relation to students’ learning on their practicum experience – through our exchanges during meetings, reflections on these exchanges and attempts to understand our own contexts based on what we hear from colleagues – would not be possible if we were not researching collaboratively. Following, we outline how we have enacted a collaborative self-study with a group of teacher-researchers committed to investigating social justice pedagogies in physical education.

2.1. The self-study design

The self-study method we employed had four phases. In the first phase, each teacher-researcher initially wrote an unstructured narrative account that they then summarized into a shorter piece which we have called a scene. The scenes represented situations, dilemmas or concerns about social justice in our recent or ongoing teaching practices. This was done to ground the inquiry experientially (Clandinin and Connelly, 2004). We shared our scenes by e-mail with our colleagues. Each colleague was tasked with responding in writing to all of the scenes using a set of reflection prompts (see Appendix A). Our intention was to point out a qualitative itinerary that would allow us to address situated nuances of our own teaching work (Luttrell, 2020).

In the second phase, we each received a file of comments from our colleagues about our scene. We gave ourselves 10 days to synthesize and analyze our colleagues’ comments and prepared a summary set of slides to talk to on Google Meet©.

In the third phase, we presented our summary and discussed the comments in two online meetings. Each meeting lasted 2 h and was recorded. We provided a conceptual overview, based on our syntheses, and intertwined our practice with a perspective of PETE and teaching that is socially just. Interactions allowed us to reconstruct learning (Schuck and Russell, 2005) at the same time as we were questioning and reflecting again on our own understandings. This allowed us to elaborate on a meta-reflective synthesis from our discussions.

Based on the discussions, in the fourth phase, we identified recurring themes that permeated the different scenes and were critical to our dialogical journey. While discussing as each other’s critical friends we drafted collaborative artifacts (Sanches Neto et al., 2023). All of the conversations and discussions took place in Portuguese. Luiz has translated these ideas into English helped by two more experienced researchers (Dawn and Alan) from the S-STEP international community. Sharing his experience of learning through the practicum experience has taken precedence in this paper. From this point, Luiz is referred to in the first person.

2.2. Context of the critical scene

The scene I am sharing is a recent situation that occurred with a practicum group that I taught in the 1st semester of 2022 in-person in the PETE degree program at the Federal University of Ceará (UFC). There were only three students in this course and this was their first practicum in the 5th semester of the 4-year undergraduate teaching degree. To complete this practicum course, students had to be in schools for a total of 80 h and attend 32 h of meetings on campus during the semester. Students were required to spend 20 h in each of the following: a kindergarten, early elementary (Grades 1–5), elementary (Grades 6–9), and high school (Grades 10–12). Typically, students spend 2 mornings per week in schools then attend their other classes on campus throughout the 20-week semester. However, students can spend up to 6 h per day in schools and up to 30 h per week meaning that the practicum can be condensed into 3 or 4 weeks. I had approached four teachers who I knew to be focused on researching and inquiring into their own practices and asked them to be collaborating teachers. They had all agreed. I hoped that the schools and collaborators I had organized would provide rich, face-to-face experiences for the students after several years of disruption due to the pandemic. The university department sent out the necessary forms for the students to complete prior to beginning any practicum-related activity in each school setting.

As in many countries, there are differences between public and private schools and universities in Brazil. I have organized for students to go into the public system because I am teaching in a publically funded university. During the on-campus meetings there would typically be some value judgments made about the two different systems as students compared their experiences. The public system can be broadly categorized as either being a local, regional or federal network. The local network incorporates kindergarten and elementary schools in each of the 5,570 municipalities. They are usually under-resourced. Regional networks are elementary and high schools funded by the federal district and each of the 26 states in the five regions of the country. Federal networks include professional education at the top ranked high schools. Public educational policies currently under review by the federal government allow schools – either public or private – to offer a narrower range of subject options. Private schools generate their own funding. Both public and private schools generally run part-time timetables for several cohorts so students attend either in the mornings, afternoons or evenings. There are 40 or more students in classes regardless of the system.

2.3. The dilemma in the practicum

I chose to write about the following dilemma in my scene. I used my contacts to ensure that the students would be well supported. One collaborating teacher was a recent graduate of the course and was studying with me for his Master’s qualification. Another was an experienced teacher who had completed her Doctorate. The other two teachers were both known to me in a teaching scholarship program as committed teacher-researchers (Lima et al., 2022). All of them have been members of an institutional research group I lead at the university.

Despite my careful screening of the schools and collaborating teachers, the students unilaterally decided that they would not attend one of the schools and made their own arrangements to go to another school that was a private school and closer to their homes. They delayed providing me with any paperwork so I was not aware that they had made changes. Furthermore, the university department responsible for sanctioning the practicum allowed the change because it is not mandatory for students to go to a public school. Defining an appropriate school setting was, however, my responsibility. When I did meet with the students and asked them what their reasons were, they said that they thought they would have access to better resources and that it was more convenient. I wrote about this incident in my scene because I was disappointed and conflicted.

3. Reflections arising from the dilemma

When the others read my scene and we discussed their thoughts and responses, our shared reflections linked the themes to social justice as it was related to differences between private and public schools; power relations and students’ right to choose where they wanted to go on practicum; the importance of fostering professional relationships with teacher-researchers and how teacher educators can support them; and control over practicum placements. Keeping a dialogic approach with the students seemed a paramount challenge. Being and educating a teacher-researcher has intricacies related to criticality whether teaching in schools or higher education (Elliott, 2012).

3.1. The difference between private and public

My first issue was that the students believed that they could learn more by doing the practicum in a private school, with more resources, than in a public school, where, according to them, they would have more difficulties. I initially thought the students were prejudiced against the public school and, by extension, against the school students and their social origins.

However, my colleagues challenged me to think differently. Elisabete wondered whether the students were wrong to try to do the practicum at a school that was easier for them to access. She thought that completing a practicum in a private school might be an opportunity for them to be paid on practicum or that it might open the door for a future professional vacancy. Through our discussion, I began to question my assumption that students were opting for private schools just because they were prejudiced towards them and thought they were providing a better quality education than the public schools. I questioned how much awareness student teachers had of their social responsibility to teach all students. Perhaps their conduct was prejudiced? Luciano suggested that it was in line with the false neoliberal view that public institutions are inferior. I was conflicted because the student teachers’ choices went against my appreciation of public schools as worthwhile educational institutions. In fact, 90% of students are educated in public schools in Brazil which are free and compulsory.

Ewerton and Isabel offered another perspective. The life experiences during schooling may have influenced my students’ behavior. In fact, two students were from public schools and one was from a private school. The complexities of teaching in public schools were discussed over three classes before students went on practicum, including a WhatsApp© video call with everyone, including the collaborating teachers in schools. I emphasized the public school system because I believe that it is not worth the public investment to educate teachers to work in the private service. Isabel had raised the point that the highest-ranking universities in the city where these students study are, in fact, free public institutions. The private schools peddle paying for “quality” education at the secondary level in order to secure a position in these contested, but free, public tertiary institutions. Ironically, students with lower grades have to pay for tuition in private universities which are more lowly ranked than public ones. Isabel was surprised that public university students would bring so many questions and obstacles to knowing the reality of public schools. Our discussion turned to the public and social commitment that practicum students assume when studying at a public university, which we thought could be an alternative topic to consider with the class.

I did not ask about social class and prejudices that my student teachers might have heard from family members or friends about public schools. Didn’t they realize that the public school students and their families whom they had opted not to teach, support the university where they study? However, as adults, the responsibility for the positions taken was theirs.

3.2. How much power/choice should student teachers have?

This was a thought that occurred to me again when I was challenged about how I had handled my students’ decision to not attend the school I had selected for them. In the first instance, I could have insisted that they complete the practicum in the school as arranged, but I did not. For Freire (1996), our work in education requires problematizing and establishing dialogue. We should respect the choices that students make. Luciano had wondered why I appeared concerned about the impact on the collaborating teacher. Was I masking my own concern about lacking authority? The week after I heard that they had changed one school, the group also tried to make a case that they could not attend the public high school I had chosen. Again, they wanted to go to a private school. However, this time I did not allow them to change their placement and insisted that they remain in the previously stipulated public school. It occurred to me that even though I wanted to treat them as adults and future teacher-researchers, I also felt that I knew what was going to be in their best interests. Willian thought it would be a matter of social justice if I did my best to keep the students in the public school but such a socially-just position would be mine – as their advising professor – not necessarily theirs.

3.3. How can teacher educators support the experience of being a teacher-researcher and collaborating teacher?

Something that became apparent to me in thinking about the issues that had arisen around practicum was my relationship with the collaborating teachers. I had nurtured our professional relationships and have a great deal of respect for them as teacher-researchers. We all practice inquiry, regardless of the age of the students we are teaching.

My expectation is that the practicum students themselves become teacher-researchers and that the shared experience in the practicum would be important in their PETE. In order to try to mobilize them, I recommended reading a research piece carried out by a former advisee, who had graduated from the PETE course, on collaboration networks between teacher-researchers in Fortaleza (Oliveira et al., 2019). Despite having them read about collaboration between teacher-researchers, the students’ perspective remained that they would prefer to be placed with any teacher in the private school – regardless of whether or not they had a proven profile of being a teacher-researcher - rather than be in the public school.

My quandary was that the collaborating teacher they had avoided was a relatively inexperienced teacher. I was conscious that having three reluctant student teachers in his class could compromise his work and impact negatively on our future professional relationship. Isabel reinforced my concern and thought that I could create instability for the novice teacher-researcher if I had forced the students to go to the public school. Willian raised doubts about the possible difficulty that any teacher-researcher at the beginning of his career would have with students who studied in private schools.

My decision to insist that the student teachers attend the second public school against their wishes was because I knew the collaborating teacher, co-author Samara, was very experienced, a doctor and, therefore, I believed that the conduct of the students would hardly disturb her (Vieira et al., 2022). As I thought about the discussions around the collaborating teacher’s expertise and capacity to supervise student teachers I returned to the selflessness with which collaborating teachers operate. I considered it was unfair on the part of the students to neglect the school teacher’s planning. There was no concern even to communicate the decision they made on their own. I wanted to acknowledge the role that collaborating teachers play. Willian had suggested inviting the teacher who my students had avoided to attend their final presentations about the practicum. I thought it was an opportunity to contest the students’ perspectives and to confront their prejudice.

3.4. How much control does a teacher educator have over placement?

My colleagues raised several issues concerning the role of the university in my scene. They wanted to know how the students could just change their placement without letting me or the collaborating teacher know. There are guidelines for changing practicum schools. The UFC practicum regulatory agency allows both public and private institutions to be registered to carry out the practicum although there is a preference expressed in documents for practicums to be in public schools. Students can suggest another option if the professor’s suggestion for placement is not appropriate for some reason. My understanding had been that this was only done after approval of the change had been given by the professor. It wasn’t my intention that students were forced to go to a school they did not want to go to. Nor had I intended to make decisions by myself concerning their placement. I thought that my colleagues in the curriculum unit would be able to support my decision-making and that the itinerary for PETE would be deliberated with the practicum professors and take into consideration the pandemic context.

Luciana raised doubts about the ability we have as teacher educators to generate (self)critical thinking – as teacher-researchers – in the students, especially in public schools. Samara considered the political dimension of the students’ behavior – contacting a different teacher and filling out another document to enable the practicum at a private school – went against the ethical standards. I also considered that the students should have a voice in the decision-making process. However, I realized through this interaction, that the student teachers were not engaging with the profession as teachers. As students, they were focused on making the best of their opportunities rather than committing to teach to the best of their abilities in any setting (Sanches Neto et al., 2021). I wondered whether the practicum office and my colleagues could look for partnerships with schools closer to the university campus and also in a range of other regions in the city. In agreement, Isabel also believes that carrying out the practicum with teacher-researchers who establish partnerships with the university is educative for undergraduate students, which is why it would be worth insisting on having tighter controls over practicum schools and collaborating teachers.

4. Concluding thoughts

Learning from the practicum is a key for students themselves becoming teacher-researchers. For us as teacher educators, “learning to learn about the practicum” (Thomas, 2017, p. 165) is important so we can support the students’ criticality and foster their social justice initiatives. In this sense, this paper has two main contributions. Firstly, as an example of the collaborative method we have used to generate alternative perspectives through self-study research. Secondly, recognizing the social injustices that are deeply seated in teacher education in general and in PETE particularly. How this impacts on our assumptions, practices and decisions may be applicable in other contexts.

Hamilton (2004) suggests that opening our research for public discussion contributes to the development of the professional knowledge base and encourages colleagues to consider alternatives. The instrument we used to propose questions, comments, reflections and criticisms based on dialogic conversations (Freire, 1996) is an important artifact, in the sense of enhancing collaboration and critical friendship. Finding rigorous ways to enhance collaboration is a core methodological issue in doing self-study (Fletcher and Hordvik, 2022a,b). The four-stage dialogue process which enabled our shared reflections is a contribution of this self-study to the teacher educator community. Writing to the prompts encouraged us to pause and consider the others’ lived experience and dilemmas. Reflecting on others’ comments as we summarized and prepared our presentations was a way to ensure transparency and honesty, with ourselves and others.

The following themes which arose through the process and meta-reflective syntheses permeate Luiz’s dilemma in relation to social justice. The first theme is the realization (or perhaps resignation) that educating teacher-researchers through the practicum experience is always going to be fraught. This is the students’ first opportunity to work alongside, with, and as, teachers. Is it too much to expect them to also develop teacher-as-researcher skills and to be mindful of the systemic social justice issues? How can we help students develop an awareness of their social responsibility to teach all students which, to our mind, is incumbent upon the profession? How much autonomy can we afford them to decide where and with whom they want to collaborate? With the best of intentions, Luiz grappled with thinking that he knew what was going to be in their best interests. But, do we ever know what is best or appropriate for another?

The second theme was the recognition and appreciation of the diverse realities experienced by each student and collaborating teacher. Initially, we had debated whether students should be obligated to undertake teaching practice in public schools due to our strong opinions on their merits. Moreover, we believed it was customary to honor the arranged placements at the designated schools. However, at the end of the semester, Luiz made a surprising discovery. One of the students, who had received their education in a public school, had wanted to attend a private school to gain firsthand experience of the contrasting educational environments. Equally important, the student had personal reasons, such as proximity to home and financial considerations, that necessitated working at a school closer to their home. The collaborating teacher whose class the students had not attended accepted the invitation to attend the students’ final presentations. His contribution to the meeting was much appreciated by the students. Luiz felt that the teacher’s mana (or existential power) was restored and he was looking forward to working with him in future years.

The third theme that emerges is the significance of fostering a culture of respectful collaboration within teaching networks. This encompasses the university professors overseeing the practicum, the collaborating teachers, and the students themselves and requires open and critical dialogue amongst all parties. While acknowledging and respecting the autonomy and freedom of PETE students to learn, it is imperative not to use this as an excuse for disregarding the importance of political engagement and the value of education in public schools. Above all, it is distressingly common to encounter injustices within Brazilian societal and educational structures, making it crucial for Luiz, as a teacher educator, to be mindful of the risk of perpetuating these injustices. This awareness should extend to any teacher-researcher who is genuinely committed to promoting social justice.

Data availability statement

The raw data supporting the conclusions of this article will be made available by the authors, without undue reservation.

Ethics statement

Ethical review and approval was not required for the study on human participants in accordance with the local legislation and institutional requirements. The patients/participants provided their written informed consent to participate in this study. Written informed consent was obtained from the individual(s) for the publication of any potentially identifiable images or data included in this article.

Author contributions

All authors contributed to the conception and design of the study. LS, LV, LC, WC, EV, SB, IF, and EF wrote sections of the manuscript and contributed equally to the data generation and analysis. LS organized the database and wrote the first draft of this manuscript. DG and AO contributed to methodology revision, manuscript read and wordsmithing. All authors contributed to the article and approved the submitted version.


This research is supported by the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq). EF and IF were also supported by research scholarships from Ânima Institute of Innovation SOCIESC.


We thank the International Study Association on Teachers and Teaching (ISATT) for its enduring support to discussing self-study methodology amidst members worldwide.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

Publisher’s note

All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article, or claim that may be made by its manufacturer, is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.


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Appendix A

Reflection prompts (developed by Luciana Venâncio and used with permission).

Source: Sanches Neto et al. (2023, p. 56).

Keywords: self-study, critical friendship, social justice, physical education, teacher education, collaboration, critical incident technique, complexity thinking

Citation: Sanches Neto L, Venâncio L, Corsino LN, Conceição WLd, Vieira ELdS, Barreto SM, Freire EdS, Filgueiras IP, Garbett D and Ovens A (2023) Perspectives on social justice when becoming a teacher-researcher in the practicum: insights from physical education teacher education. Front. Educ. 8:1174751. doi: 10.3389/feduc.2023.1174751

Received: 27 February 2023; Accepted: 17 August 2023;
Published: 22 September 2023.

Edited by:

Stefinee Pinnegar, Brigham Young University, United States

Reviewed by:

Joanne Hill, University of Bedfordshire Bedford, United Kingdom
Ramona Maile Cutri, Brigham Young University, United States

Copyright © 2023 Sanches Neto, Venâncio, Corsino, Conceição, Vieira, Barreto, Freire, Filgueiras, Garbett and Ovens. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: Luiz Sanches Neto,