Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Program

Education

Supervisor

Dr. Ellen Singleton

Abstract

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As an interested reader of the educational literature on moral development I have become intrigued by the significance of moral-reasoning in sport. After nearly four decades of coach education in Canada concern is being voiced about the apparent erosion of moral values amongst many coaches or, at the very least, their moral ambivalence. A database search of the literature and research findings on moral development generally espouses some sort of stage theory (Haan, 1977; Kohlberg, 1958; Weiss, 1987). Through a separate line of inquiry one can find an interest in understanding how coaches learn. Gilbert and Trudel (1999) have researched extensively the impact of experiential learning (Kolb, 1984) and critical reflection (Schön, 1991) on the learning process specifically related to coaching. The intersection of these two lines of research leads to the question of how the moral-reasoning of coaches, in competitive situations, is mediated by the specific sport-based context of their experience.

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This study utilized the varied cartographic visual mapping techniques developed by Clarke (2005) and described as situational maps, relational analyses, social worlds/arenas maps, etc., which provided the method for analysing the data from interviews and artefacts. Participants’ experiences were explored using self-identified challenging moral dilemmas through a qualitative methodology employing the grounded theory method following the situational analysis (Clarke, 2005) theoretical framework. Grounded theory by its very design is a conceptual framework. Situational analysis provides some structural concepts that, thanks to Clarke (2005), now exist in the literature but it is still conceptual in nature.

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The results indicate that the seemingly eclectic approach to moral-reasoning exhibited by coaches is in fact a complex system of analysis that leads to solutions. The process considers public perception, concepts of universal opportunity as well as short and long-term impact on the specific sport as well as the sport community as a whole. Based the results I was able to develop a model explaining the moral-reasoning employed by the participants in this study. Further research may determine if this can be generalized to a broader segment of the coaching profession. I hope that this model will help coach educators develop better programs to teach coaches about making moral decisions.


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