Resilience in physical education: A qualitative exploration of protective factors

Resilience refers to findings that some individuals have good outcomes despite exposure to stressors, and protective factors are defined as influences that alter a person’s response to such stressors. Academic resilience research identifies factors that promote positive educational outcomes; however no research to date investigates student resilience in the unique context of Physical Education (PE). The current study sought to explore protective factors that alter secondary school students’ responses to the common stressors associated with PE participation. Interviews and focus groups were conducted with six teachers and 54 students, and transcripts were analysed using thematic analysis. In line with the conceptualisation of protective factors, higher order themes of individual assets and environmental factors were identified. Individual assets included personality, cognitive factors (e.g. value of PE activities) and behavioural factors (e.g. attending extra-curricular activities). Environmental factors included teacher and peer support, and the relative importance of PE promoted by the school and parents.