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The identity of the physical education knowledge area of teachers in basic education

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SATO, Jean Takehiro Shimomaebara [1], NASSAR, Sérgio Eduardo [2]

SATO, Jean Takehiro Shimomaebara. NASSAR, Sérgio Eduardo. The identity of the physical education knowledge area of teachers in basic education. Revista Científica Multidisciplinar Núcleo do Conhecimento. Year. 07, Ed. 01, Vol. 01, p. 180-197. January 2022. ISSN: 2448-0959, Access link:


This study aimed to investigate whether the teacher who works in the municipal network of Basic Education in Castanhal, Pará, with the Physical Education (PE) discipline has an identity of its own in the area of ​​knowledge, as well as to present approximations to five studies that have woven epistemological bases that sought to define the identity and object of study of this field of knowledge, namely: the “Anthropological-Cultural Theory of Sport and PE”, by José Maria Cagigal; the “Praxeological Theory”, by Pierre Parlebas; the “Psychokinetics”, by Jean Le Boulch; the “Science of Human Motricity” (CMH)[3], by Manuel Sérgio; and “Sport Science”, by Jorge Olímpio Bento. As a central problem, the guiding question asks how this teacher who works in Basic Education understands the identity of the PE knowledge area. The research is qualitative, with the participation of ten (10) professors who work with the PEs discipline in the urban area of ​​Castanhal, Pará. The instrument adopted was the semi-structured interview, with the guiding question: which professional identity(ies) do you assume as a teacher(s) at PEs? For data processing, the Discourse Analysis (DA) technique was adopted. The results indicate that these teachers have difficulty recognizing their own identity, in addition to not being aware of the five identification proposals for the area. Thus, based on the findings, it was verified that it is indeed necessary to deepen the theme of the field of PE teacher’s identities in the initial training of future professionals.

Keywords: School Physical Education, Identity, Teacher Identity.


Understanding the concept of “identity” is important for the development of the area of ​​Physical Education (PE), and, in this study, the emphasis was placed on teachers working in Basic Education, investigating whether they have an identity of their own in the area of ​​knowledge. It is noteworthy that the subjects participating in the research are teachers who work with the discipline of Physical Education at school (PEs).

Gomes et al. (2013, p. 247) point out that “the insertion of teachers in the school space provides pedagogical experiences in which their figure, regardless of the changes that occur in teaching and education, is considered a central element to society”, thus, emphasizing this workspace is necessary to register the professional identity of teachers.

Pimenta and Anastasiou (2011) state that this identity remains in a process of construction, it allows for the re-elaboration of knowledge that is articulated with everyday practices, thus showing how identities are reconstructed, according to the experiences of the subjects involved in the process of school space. In addition, this process of reconstruction of new identities, called by Dubar (2009) as forms of identity, are revealed in the configuration that is constituted during the life cycle, as it is reproduced and transformed in the assumed fields.

For that, Matos; Nista-Piccolo and Borges (2016) emphasize that in the PE area, these professionals often assume different identities at different times, having to live in a constant process of transformation, triggering identity crises in the area that occur from the discussions and disputes of milestones theories about the legitimacy of the discipline and its matrices, providing several doubts about the scope of knowledge production, especially at school (BUNGENSTAB, 2019).

It is known that the lack of identity permeates other areas of knowledge, but several studies point out that an object of study not defined by peers and with contradictions among some researchers, both in working professionals and those who work in Higher Education, especially in courses of initial training, can trigger different identities in the performance spaces (NASSAR, 2013; VARGAS; MOREIRA, 2012; KAEFER, 2014; CARNEIRO; ASSIS; DE BRONZATTO, 2016; NASSAR; MOREIRA, 2019a;).

It is understood that PE teachers need to act as scientists, theorists and practitioners, linked to the knowledge that involves the human dimension, bringing to the classroom these discussions and concepts aimed at training human beings for life, and not for selective processes or even contests.

Therefore, in the bias of this study, Basic Education presents itself as a research universe, the result of an ongoing project in the North region of Brazil, especially in the municipality of Castanhal, Pará. Here are presented some of the results found from the investigation that seeks to understand which identity(ies) these PE teachers assume as an area of ​​knowledge, even knowing the difficulties, structural or institutional, that permeate the public network in Brazil, sometimes, including situations that allow identity (re)constructions of the subjects involved (SATO; SILVA; NASSAR, 2021).

In addition, the diversity of fields of activity, together with the variety of theoretical orientations in conflict, creates a scenario that has hindered the construction of a clear orientation of what would be the exercise of the professor in the area and these factors would demonstrate the existence of a certain fragility in the professional identity of PE (MOURA, 2015; PIRES et al., 2017).

There are several issues to consider, present in PE, which make it difficult to define the teacher’s identity, among them, it stands out how the sportivization in school spaces has still been a reality, especially in places where school games are common. These competitive events, aiming at high performance, leave aside central elements of body practices as well as the lack of playful content, in addition to excluding other elements that can be worked on in the educational context (MELO; BEREOFF, 2016; NARDUCHI; PEREIRA ; STRUCHINER, 2020).

Another point that is present is some teachers who, as students in initial training, brought with them experiences, arising from their experience as competitive athletes and who find it difficult to get rid of technical concepts (PIRES, 2016; TEIXEIRA, 2019); and, the historical and cultural remnants of the area while those dualistic ideas between body and mind are configured in the “doing for the sake of doing” in the pedagogical action (VARGAS; MOREIRA, 2012; BUNGENSTAB, 2020).

Martines’ studies; Carvalho Fugi e Souza (2020), Ribas and Franco (2020), Nassar and Moreira (2019b), present existing proposals in the literature to overcome this epistemological crisis in the area, their contributions being considered sufficient in the construction of the identity process. Five studies are defended that wove epistemological bases to define the identity and object of study of this field of knowledge, namely: the “Anthropological-Cultural Theory of Sport and PE”, by José Maria Cagigal; the “Praxeological Theory”, by Pierre Parlebas; the “Psycho Kinetics”, by Jean Le Boulch; the “Science of Human Motricity” (CMH), by Manuel Sérgio; and “Sport Science”, by Jorge Olímpio Bento.

Firstly, the Anthropological-Cultural Theory of Sport and PE emphasizes sport and its interfaces, highlighting the relevance to society and this is present in the area, but the look of this proposal is understood as praxis and spectacle. When unveiling sport as a praxis, we observe in the writings the practice of physical exercise, aimed at practitioners as improvements in development both in biological aspects and for leisure activities, pointing out the game as one of the radical ways of being of the human being itself ( CAGIGAL, 1996).

In the proposal of Cagigal (1996), sports, games, leisure are a connection that can involve the human being in the development of all their potentialities in a harmonious dialogue with life, being equally the approaches attributed to PE, that is, in the physical dimensions, in the sport spectacle, in the perspectives of health, as the author emphasizes, as spiritual transcendence, or even, sport as pedagogy in the act of moving, dialoguing with the humanism of the performers. In his manuscripts Cagigal (1996, p.65) emphasizes that “a reality of beauty, of different kinds, according to the maturity of sport; but always of the kind of elemental, primitively human”.

On the other hand, the “Praxeological Theory” defends that PE is understood from the Motive Praxeology, which according to Parlebas (1988, p.173) “[…] aiming to constitute the field of motive action”, either through the studies of institutional sports games and traditional sports, tends to analyze the value and dynamics of each modality. In the author’s conception, it is essential to understand the area from the motive action, present in physical exercises, in free activities and through movement, understanding as identity the unity and specificity of PE as a pedagogical practice, that is, an understanding of the intrinsic logic of the driving actions.

In addition, Parlebas (1988) emphasizes that the role of the teacher aims to guide body practices, seeking to lead and intervene, extracting the maximum from practitioners in observing the meaning of playing, playing, executing, that is, the “Motive Praxeology” tends to facilitate the organization of contents, enabling pedagogical work in classes developed mainly in the school field.

Another proposal for the PE area was “Psychokinetics”, presented by Le Boulch (1995), having its core in the global development of the potential of practitioners who move in their various forms, that is, that the motor act is not limited to aspects motors, but in the emotional, social sphere, which may reflect on the identity and qualities of human relationships (NASSAR; MOREIRA, 2019a).

However, it is called “Psychokinetics or Science of Human Movement”, which is based entirely on the development of the person. However, it is noteworthy that a name change is not enough, but the need is for teachers working with PE to have an understanding of the concept of movement that needs to be reviewed and expanded.

It should be noted that Le Boulch (1995) highlights the contributions that “Phenomenology” brings to the identification of movement, that is, to identify human beings based on their motor behaviors. But he emphasizes that, in parallel, the motor act is not an isolated process, but a set of physiological procedures, with internal and external reactions to the body.

Therefore, the “Science of Human Motricity” (CMH), proposed by Sérgio (1995; 1999), which tends to overcome the evident paradigm in PE, by defending that the area should study the human being, who intentionally moves towards self-overcoming, seeking to transcend from the movement, and in the school field this is defended by the contents of body practices.

Sérgio (2003; 2005; 2008) believes that the human being must be understood from its totality, defining HCM as the understanding of motor actions towards intentional movement, alluding to overcoming and transcendence. To this end, in his writings, he asserts that CMH must move from the “position of an additional and complementary element to the place of a basic alphabet and be learned before the first letters” (SÉRGIO, 1995, p. 102), allowing people to be more and better, mainly through movement, regardless of their intentions, whether in playing, playing, competing, overcoming limits, in the search for health or improvements in well-being.

To this end, the PE teacher, when choosing to ‘deliver’ on the bases proposed by Sérgio (1999), must know that it is important to identify some elements considered constitutive in the HCM, they are: the movement or motor act; intentionality; corporeality; spatiality; perception and temporality; fundamental points for carrying out the work with this theory that aims at the existential reality of the human being as a being that moves.

Finally, the “Science of Sport” is presented, idealized by Bento (2006, p. 155) which he defines as “a set of bodily technologies, the use of which is guided by cultural reasons and standards and by intentions, goals and social valuations”, highlighting that postmodern society, mainly through new technologies, has marked physicality in human bodies, extolling the idea of ​​predominance of the mind over the body, of mental activity over motor.

Bento (2004) emphasizes that the identity for the PE area should emphasize sport which, in his view, brings a set of dimensions with different meanings, being at the same time representative, aggregating, synthesizing and unifying in all spheres that involve the human beings, without disregarding the biological, physical, motor, playful, bodily scope, the techniques and tactics, the culture, the spiritual, the psychological, the social and the affective.

The deepening of the identity proposals, existing for the area, are essential in the discussions that permeate the initial formation and the fields of activity, as well as the non-formal spaces and even the school institutions, helping the teacher in the elaboration and execution of the contents in their pedagogical work.

In this article, it is argued that the “Science of Human Motricity” as an epistemological support bias, identifies that the object of study in this area is the body in movement, through the relationship with the world and sustained in the constituent elements of this science that are fundamental for the construction of the teacher’s identity process. As Pérez (2009) emphasizes, understanding the HCM as a movement or motor act; corporeality; the perception; intentionality; spatiality and temporality mark the essentiality of an existential reality, thus determining the proper identification of the conception of being in this world, characterizing the specific qualities that distinguish each one.

In this sense, this essay was guided by the following guiding question: how does this teacher who works in Basic Education understand the identity of the PE knowledge area? In order to investigate whether the teacher who works with the PE discipline in the municipal network of Basic Education in the municipality of Castanhal, Pará, has an identity of its own in the area of ​​knowledge.


This study uses a qualitative, descriptive approach, which is concerned with highlighting the researcher’s interaction with the research under analysis, seeking to understand and assimilate, from their point of view, the information collected (GODOY, 1995).

It should be noted that this research is the result and cut of a macro project that generated a lot of data from the work plan of the PIBIC Program of the Federal University of Pará (UFPA), with the field research carried out in the second half of 2019 in the municipality of Castanhal, Pará, with the approval of the ethics committee, under Opinion No. 3,733,834; in addition to the authorization of the Municipal Department of Education. To this end, all directors of municipal schools in the urban area were contacted and, therefore, with 23 PE teachers linked to the institutions, full and temporary in 2019, of which ten subjects agreed to participate in the research.

The inclusion criteria were: being graduated in the PE course; be working in the municipal network. And as exclusion criteria, the following stand out: not having a degree in PE; not be working in school spaces in the municipality during the research; or even refuse to participate in the interviews.

The instrument adopted was the semi-structured interview, in which the macro project contained seven questions designed for application, but for this article, only the guiding question was adopted: which professional identity(ies), do you(are) assume(s) as teacher(s) in school Physical Education? Before the application, the subjects signed the Free and Informed Consent Term (FICT) and the interviews were recorded using an iPhone 7 digital recorder and fully transcribed for analysis.

Discourse Analysis (DA) was used for data treatment, which, for Gregolin (2007), is a field of research that aims to understand the social production of meanings, carried out by subjects, through the character of languages, seeking to identify in the speech of Basic Education teachers, how they recognize the identity of the PE knowledge area.


When investigating the identity(ies) of the area assumed by the teacher(s) in the school environment, the point of greatest convergence was not having any assumed identity, indicated by 07 subjects.

In the speech of Interviewee 2, it is observed:

[…] A gente vira médico, a gente vira psicólogo, a gente vira é… Pastor, a gente vira padre, a gente vira delegado, a gente vira um monte de profissão […] porque a nossa prática é aluno em movimento […] e acontece os conflitos, a gente tem que mediar. Então, a gente acaba assumindo outros papeis. (SUJEITO 2).

It is noted that, within the institution, the teacher claims to take on several roles, without relating them to their own identity, or even to any of the approaches used in this field of activity, which can incite a crisis in the process of building their professional identity.

Furthermore, the emergence of this crisis due to its various functions can be explained in the writings of Gomes et al. (2013), when he points out that teacher training is a process of socialization and social interactions are elements that contribute to the construction of identity based on the feeling of belonging to a group. However, as the research subject says, taking on several roles, in addition to their profession of origin, can trigger uncertainty in their identity construction process.

Interviewee 8 highlights:

[…] todo professor acaba exercendo outras funções dentro da escola […] sendo psicólogo […] nutricionista, então, são várias identidades que a gente precisa se adequar para atender esse público, já que as escolas não possuem essas identidades que são de extrema importância no processo de identificação. (SUJEITO 8).

The statement shows that the teacher understands the importance of an identity, whether individual, collective or institutional, however, it does not find any approximation with the proposals presented by the PE area of ​​knowledge, but shows a certain confusion between the concept of identity and professionalism which, according to Marquesin (2013), directs the practice and profession of teaching, involving the execution of successful techniques and experiences.

It is known that in many of the school spaces, both in the direction and in the coordination, there is no understanding of the meaning of the PE discipline as a curricular component, this causes teachers to be allocated to different functions, for which they did not have the proper training. According to Matos; Nista-Piccolo and Borges (2016), this has been happening in the area of ​​Efe, due to this lack of definition of their functions within the school itself, contributing to the teachers taking on different identities.

Interviewee 1 says: “[…] I always seek to learn from my students while teaching and when I realize that something is missing that meets their needs, I seek to insert it into my methodology”. (SUBJECT 1).

Or even in the following speech, it appears that the interviewee assumes different identities:

[…] Várias, mas o que eu mais coloco em foco é o cobrador [….] cobro muito deles nosso comportamento, principalmente o respeito […]  eu vejo aqui muitos alunos […] agressivo né gosta de bater no colega […]a gente vai tentar buscar por que ele fez isso. (SUJEITO 3).

In the speeches of subjects 1 and 3, it can be seen that they, as teachers, carry out social interactions with students during their classes – being a way for their identity constructions and, although they do not assume their own identity, they demonstrate their profiles as reflective teachers, situation that requires the addition of specific knowledge to teaching, creativity and proactivity to overcome problems that arise during pedagogical practice (SCHON, 1992).

Therefore, according to Mendes (2005), classes with reflection and joint analysis between the teacher and the student, guide them to be aware of their actions and decisions made, and, during this process, teaching-learning occurs, in which the teacher brings problem situations and, while learning, articulates discussions with students.

There are interviewees who assumed an identity, but in a confused way regarding the existing proposals presented previously, as seen in the following report:

[…] as identidades que eu assumo de professor pesquisador que gosta de tá fazendo pesquisas, que gosta de tá estudando né tentando inovar trabalhando com projetos […] buscando novas formas para tá levando conhecimento pro aluno… (SUJEITO 6).

There is a confusion when the teacher says to seek means and strategies for pedagogical practice, understanding the question regarding their own identity, praising the use of research to improve their teaching methods and pointing out that this is their individual identity as a teacher.

As mentioned, professors often become scientists, theorists and practitioners who have the responsibility of gathering knowledge of the human dimension, in this way, it is identified that this professor probably has his identity very close to what the CMH discusses and points out as an identity for the area, but in speech he is not aware of this proposal for the PE field, already proposed by Sérgio (1995; 2008).

The search for new knowledge is a positive point for pedagogical practice. Professional development is constant and important for the construction of the teacher’s identity, because, according to Resende et al. (2014), is linked to the desire to transcend each day more in the pedagogical action and in the profession of being a teacher.

In the report of Interviewee 10, it is possible to identify: “[…] We assume a transforming role […] a class in which students accept each other, accept their differences, respect each other and through that practice, achieve learning mechanisms internal and of values, human values”. (SUBJECT 10).

It is worth noting that, despite not claiming an identity of their own among those presented in this writing, the interviewee treats the students from a more humanistic perspective, identifying PE in a broader sense, aiming at the idea that involves the human being in its entirety, whether in the physical, psychological, cultural and spiritual aspects. Therefore, it is believed that this is close to the proposals of the CMH and the “Praxeological Theory”, and the understanding and application of these values ​​come from their relationships, considering what is learned from initial training, to practice in its locus of action; and this socialization is a strong influence on the construction of their professional identity (MEDEIROS et al., 2014).

It is noticed that several interviewees constitute the identity of the area from the approaches or conceptions, or even from the pedagogical tendencies that, according to Darido (2003), had a strong influence, from 1980, to extirpate the way the classes were conducted of the EFe, with its practices focused on technicism and militarism, inherited from the historical context of the area of ​​knowledge.

Nassar and Moreira (2019b) emphasize that these approaches have as their main objective to contribute to pedagogical action, but it is worth noting that, assuming some of these, does not mean that teachers present an identity for the area, since, according to these authors, the trends they did not attempt to define the object of study of this field of knowledge. This favors confusion between the identity of the area and pedagogical approaches, causing teachers to find it difficult to point out the identity of PE assumed, mainly in the school field.

In this sense, there was a point of convergence in the speeches of three subjects, in which traces of one of the historical trends of PE, the Pedagogical, are detected, possibly being confused with their identities. Interviewee 4 responds as follows:

[…] a minha identidade profissional […] pra professor de EFe mesmo, que trabalha a didática, o desenvolvimento do aluno, […] a sua percepção, o seu desenvolvimento motor, a sua fisiologia, essas questões mais diretas que envolvem a EF na escola. (SUJEITO 4).

It appears that the teacher emphasizes learning through global development, in practices that aim at body movements and favor the evolution of psychomotor skills, personality and school success. In this case, it is observed that in its pedagogical action, it is placed close to the studies of “Psychokinetics”, proposed by Le Boulch (1995).

The speech of subject 9: “[…] I can say that I have a pedagogical, health, overcoming critical identity, psychomotricity identity […] and technicality despite people trying to escape when we go to work with training in itself”. (SUBJECT 9).

In this discourse, there is an option to assume different approaches in practice, among them, the “Pedagogist”, understood as professional identity(ies). In this way, there is a lack of knowledge of the proposals for the area, in addition to confusing trends and approaches as a proposed identity for the PE area.

Still subject 9: “[…] I may not be able to bring the identity, but we end up bringing it with the sport in some way, I see moments that we have to work with training”. (SUBJECT 9).

This works with allusions to sports practices in the educational bias as a way to improve their physical skills, in addition to promoting well-being, pointing to an approximation of the proposal of the “Anthropological-Cultural Theory of Sport” and EF,

At the same time, in Interviewee 7, he points out: “[…] we usually start with the content of games and sports […] in addition to physical education, health is also important to work on, which is a very evident theme”. (SUBJECT 7).

In the speech, the teacher’s concern for the well-being of his students is proven, carrying out activities in classes aimed at learning through movements, in order to promote health, showing in this subject’s speech traces of the “Anthropological Theory- Cultural do Esporte” and EF, which enables the development of social interactions, skills and attitudes based on the game and sport.

As a common point in the speech of 2 subjects, an approximation with the approach “Critical Overcoming in professional performance” is detected, being confused by the professors as an identity.

According to Interviewee 7: “[…] A PE professional who works with parts of the theory, the origin of the content, right, so many parts and instrumentalizing in the practical moment… With the content […] working on regional dances” . (SUBJECT 7).

Complementing, subject 10 says: “[…] I need to find a balance between the student presenting an improvement in the physical, psychological; I need to work on inclusion, socialization, acceptance of what it means to be different”. (SUBJECT 10).

This speech highlights the teacher’s concern regarding the history of the content covered and how it seeks to adapt to the realities of the subjects, allowing, through their classes, the participants to reflect and, at the same time, learn from these cultures in which they are inserted. In addition, in the speech of subject 10, there is a view of equality, teaching his students, in the context of their practice, inclusion and socialization, without ceasing to work on the physical and psychological aspects.

With this, from the speech of subject 7 and 10, an approximation between the proposals of the “Sport Science and Praxiological Theory” is deduced, from the teacher’s intention to insert in their practices, through body movements, the learning that goes beyond the simple doing for the sake of doing, but looking for practical activities, carried out in classes, to stimulate and provide pleasure to practitioners.

Unlike the other research participants, it can be detected in the speech of Interviewee 5 that he understands “Constructivism” as an identity for the area; however, it is considered to be a pedagogical approach, in addition to mentioning the CMH in his speech: “At Graduation, I still had a very strong bias in the constructivist issue and even human motricity […] everything else”. (SUBJECT 5).

It can be seen that this influence comes from the identities assumed by the teachers working in the initial training, contributing to this process of identity construction. Thus, it is noted that, in addition to mentioning one of the identity proposals for PE (in this case, the CMH), the subject approaches his ideas in his response.

However, it stands out, still in his speech, which states: “[…] My identity today is much more flexible […] I usually adapt to the reality of the school, to the reality of the classes [… ] but the approach, I think, is constructivist”. (SUBJECT 5).

It can be seen how the interviewee understands that identities are flexible, assuming several of them, in addition to distinguishing them from methodological approaches to PE, which are believed to be more focused on pedagogical actions than on assuming an identity of the area of ​​knowledge to its performance in the school field.

Thus, despite having been mentioned in some dialogues, no interviewee was detected who spoke about the identity proposals, with confusion with pedagogical approaches or with the historical trends of PE, in addition to their practices being influenced according to the themes with which they find most affinity.

Having said that, when pointing out the option of these authors for the CMH, there is an affinity in the speeches of three subjects, as they understand that in the pedagogical action one must form critical citizens, inserting them in practice in the culture, arising from those involved and that these can acquire different knowledge through the body when moving. However, the approach of other professors with the other theories is not criticized here, as it is believed that the absence of these discussions, especially in initial and continuing education, causes this problem, that is, the lack of an identity of its own for the area.

Finally, the debates about identities, proposed for the area, must be studied and deepened in the initial formation and during the professional life cycle of these teachers, aiming to reduce this identity crisis that persists in the teaching of working teachers, mainly in the school field.


In view of the above, it was verified how this teacher who works in Basic Education understands the identity of the PE knowledge area, but it was possible to identify that they have difficulty in recognizing their own identity, in addition to not being aware of the five identities proposed for this area of knowledge.

It is believed that the research participants are not wrong in their perception, but it is believed that this stems from a problem in the field of initial training, in Higher Education. It is known that many of these professors who work in undergraduate courses also do not have a defined identity, encouraging their pedagogical practices to be focused on their individual preferences, arising from before, during or after their training.

With this, there is a need to deepen the theme of the field of PE teacher’s identities, as well as to ‘dive’ into discussions about the professional and his performance, with regard to the process of initial training, making it possible, in this way, to , that future teachers act with their own identities in the area in their pedagogical practice, reducing this epistemological crisis existing in PE.


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3. Ciência da Motricidade Humana.

[1] Graduating from the Physical Education Course. ORCID:

[2] Doctor in Education. ORCID:

Sent: June, 2021.

Approved: January, 2022.

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