Joy Butler


Relevant Degree Programs


Graduate Student Supervision

Master's Student Supervision (2010-2017)
Students' social experiences through inventing games (2014)

Although small group work is often used as a pedagogical tool in physical education (PE), little is known about factors that affect the social experiences of the students, as reported from their own perspective as they work in a small group setting. The purpose of this research was to enable a number of grade eight male students to share their lived social experiences as they engaged in an Inventing Games (IG) unit. This study was framed within a wider study, conducted by the principal investigator (Dr. Joy Butler), and initiated under the auspices of a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council grant in 2009. The goal of the larger project was to investigate how IG, an educational program in Physical Education (PE), can support the development and awareness of principles of ethical actions as they become manifest in situated and collaborative learning contexts (Butler, Hopper & Davis, 2009). My study focused on one group within my PE class. The students in the focus group shared their social experiences through journals and interviews over the course of an eight-session unit. I used a phenomenological approach to analyze the data and in the process I identified four themes: (a) inclusion within the decision-making process, (b) acknowledging ideas, (c) student-selected team selection process, and (d) relating the IG experience to “real- life.” These four themes became apparent through a process of applying a complexity thinking lens to examine the ways in which the focus group could be understood in terms of a complex adaptive system, and to identify the ways in which the conditions of complex emergence were established to allow for emergent learning within the group. This study has had an impact on my teaching practice and, in turn, could have implications for the wider PE community. For example, on the basis of valuable insights gained from the students in the focus group, I have achieved a better understanding overall of the social experiences of students as they engage in PE, and am consequently better equipped to look out for hidden negative social experiences that can occur in small group settings.

View record

"What about us?" shedding light on the rural school athletic experiences of four girls of Little Salmon Carmacks First Nations in the Yukon Territory (2013)

This study explored the sport experiences of four Little Salmon Carmacks First Nations (LSCFN) girls from Carmacks, Yukon Territory. Along with their stories I also tell my own, as I was their coach and teacher during their time in organized sports. Throughout the study the girls described their sport experiences as being enmeshed in notions and issues surrounding their race (Native), gender (female), and location (rurality). These are unpacked and discussed throughout the study. Their stories suggested a need for further attention to pedagogy regarding Physical Education and coaching, as well as intersectionality and the impacts that this has on rural teacher preparation/hiring and retention policies.

View record

Lost in being : (re)situating self in teacher education (2013)

An important dimension of becoming a teacher is the development of a teacher identity. The research literature suggests that teacher candidates progress through three specific identities—pre-teaching, fictive and lived. While this framework provides a structure with which to consider identity development, it does not address the ways in which transitions between these identities impact teacher candidates. Drawing on Dwayne Huebner’s (1969) concept of being-in-the-world as discourse this study explores being in teacher education through the narratives of three teacher candidates (including the author’s). Using existential themes of language, wonder, and temporality the study reveals that being-as-teacher candidate is dynamic, fragmented, and limited in possibility. Implications for teacher education are discussed.

View record

Walkabout, social and built environments, and quality of life in older adults (2013)

The purpose of this multilevel exploratory study was to determine the effects of Walkabout, a community-based physical activity program initiated by Dr. Joy Butler of The University of British Columbia, on the quality of life (QOL) of older adult participants. This multifaceted study also explored the impacts of physical, built and created social environments on the amount of older adult participants’ engagements in physical activities. A total of 23 older adults participated in the study and 21 finished it. The study was primarily focused on two Walkabout teams, ten participants in total. The members of one team lived in the Richmond area of Metro Vancouver and the other team members lived in an independent living centre in Vancouver’s Westside. Both teams consisted of physically and cognitively independent individuals who were capable of performing their own Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL). The majority of the data were collected from the participants through private interviews and some anecdotal journals. A literature review was conducted. A separate examination of the two neighbourhoods under study was also performed using the Senior Walking Environmental Audit Tool-Revised (SWEAT-R) (Chaudhury, Sarte, Michael, Mahmood, Keast, Dogaru, & Wister, 2011).The findings through a qualitative method demonstrated the benefits of the Walkabout Program for health and life satisfaction, which the older adult participants identified as the most important contributing factors to their QOL. The social environment created through Walkabout was what the majority of the participants enjoyed the most. The older participants considered social networking and social capital as two important factors that contributed to their quality of life. In addition, the study also identified such factors as aesthetics, safety, convenience, distance, and diversity of physical and built environments as environmental attributes that impacted the level of older adult participants’ engagements in physical activity.

View record

Mindful physical education : factors that facilitate physical educators’ implementation of Teaching Games for Understanding into their teaching practice (2010)

In recent years, some academic scholars have advocated for change within Physical Education (P.E.) and promoted an alternative, Teaching Games for Understanding (TGfU), a teaching method grounded in social constructivist theory. Even though TGfU has met with some success, Butler (2005) suggests, it is still a challenge to transition the TGfU methodology into the practical teaching world. To establish those factors that help the implementation of TGfU into their teaching practices, this researcher interviewed five physical educators enrolled in a Master’s TGfU focused cohort, at the University of British Columbia. Following the completion of their Master’s summer institute, the participants were interviewed twice, at the beginning of the school year and then five to six weeks later. The participants were also asked to complete three Teaching Perspectives Inventories (TPI), one before and one after the summer institute, and a third one month after the start of the school year. The TPI is used to measure the teaching orientation of educators by organizing answers to teaching belief-specific questions into five teaching perspectives. Understanding that implementation of new initiatives requires support from other stakeholders, the researcher interviewed the participants’ primary colleagues and principals. Four main factors emerged from the research findings: transparent communication between stakeholders, teacher and student motivation, time, and professional development. It has become increasingly clear through the research findings that successful implementation is not simply one individual working alone to implement change but rather a complex network of different interrelating factors and stakeholders. When implementation of a curriculum innovation such as TGfU, is viewed as an interrelated entity it can be examined through the lens of complexity thinking. The complexity thinking characteristics of self-organization, feedback loops, decentralized control and complex networks, affects the manner in which new initiative are successful. Therefore, for implementation to be successful the type of complex network that is created is paramount. As Davis and Sumara (2008) suggest, a decentralized network – where stakeholders connect (transparency in communication) and collaborate (motivation) where its goal is to become collectively smarter (professional development) – can be seen as the blue print of a knowing and learning system.

View record


Membership Status

Member of G+PS

Program Affiliations


If this is your researcher profile you can log in to the Faculty & Staff portal to update your details and provide recruitment preferences.