Associate Professor Alan Patrick Ovens

PhD, MEd, DipPE, DipTchg


Alan is an Associate Professor in Physical Education in the School of Curriculum and Pedagogy, Faculty of Education and Social Work. He has held a range of roles within the faculty, including Deputy Head of the School of Critical Studies in Education, Head of the Health and Physical Education Group, and Director of the Richard Tinning Research Unit. He has also been the President of Physical Education New Zealand (2006-2012) and is the current past Chair of the AIESEP TGfU Special Interest Group. He is the Programme Co-Chair for the  S-STEP Castle Conference in England.  His key research interests are in complexity, teacher education pedagogy and methodologies for self-study research.

Research | Current

My research investigates the complex nature of educational practice in Health and Physical Education, the methodologies for researching complexity, and how this can be enacted in teacher education practices. This includes a focus on humanist themes (oriented around critical pedagogy and action research) as well as a contemporary focus on postmodern themes (oriented around complexity, new materialism and future-oriented digital pedagogies).

Some of my most recent publications include:

  • Sanchez-Neto, L., Venâncio, L., Silva, E., & Ovens, A. (2020). A socio-critical curriculum for PETE: Students’ perspectives on the approaches to social-justice education of one Brazilian programme. Sport, Education and Society,  DOI: 10.1080/13573322.2020.1839744
  • Smith, W., Ovens, A., & Philpot, R. (2020). Games-based movement education: Developing a sense of self, belonging, and community through games. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy.
  • Araújo, A., Ovens, A., & Knijnik, J. (submitted)  Media and technologies on Physical Education Teacher Education (PETE): thinking some competencies on the courses proposals of the south hemisphere. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy
  • Araújo, A., Ovens, A., &  Knijnik, J. (2020)  How does physical education and health respond to the growing influence in media and digital technologies? An analysis of curriculum in Brazil, Australia and New Zealand, Journal of Curriculum Studies, DOI: 10.1080/00220272.2020.1734664
  • Ovens, A. (2020). Teaching Physical Edcuation as though the future depends on it. Refise (Revista de Educação Física, Saúde e Esporte), Limoeiro do Norte-CE, edição especial, Vol 3 (1) pp 9-23.
  • Philpot, R., Ovens, A., & Smith, W. (2019)  Critical pedagogies in the training of physical education teachers for the new millennium. Movimento, Porto Alegre, v. 25, e25064

Teaching | Current

  • SportHPE 102 Learning and pedagogy
  • SportHPE 202 Skill Learning
  • SportHPE 301 School Health and PE
  • EDCURSEC 691 Teaching Subject Specialism
  • EDCURSEC 692 Design for learning

Postgraduate supervision

Doctor of Philosophy

Xue Yuan The impact of technology on student teachers’ initial teacher education programme experiences. Co-Supervisor with Associate Professor Dawn Garbett

Carlos Kucera

Constructing praxis as an international physical education teacher: A self-study in Aotearoa New Zealand primary education

Co-Supervisor with Blake Bennett

Honglu Zhang

A Foucauldian Analysis of School-based Olympic Education Programme in Beijing: perceptions of teachers and students

Co-Supervisor with Darren Powell

Regina Panjaitan

A self-study of science teaching

Co-Supervisor with Associate Professor Dawn Garbett

Sarkkunan Viswanathan

Sport On! Move Your Learning

Co-Supervisor with Associate Professor Wayne Smith

Theresa Stanley

Public perceptions of swimming competency and drowning prevention

Co-Supervisor with Associate Professor Dawn Garbett

Jinzhi Han

A Comparative Study on the Middle School Physical Education Teacher Learning Community in China and New Zealand


Co-Supervisor with Dr Rod Philpot

Jike Yang Digital technology and young people’s physical activity, physical education Co-Supervisor with Dr Rod Philpot
Cheng Deng ‘That is a Big Passion of Mine as a Typical Kiwi’: Primary School Principals’, Teachers’, and Students’ Perspectives on Physical Education in New Zealand Co-Supervisor with Associate Professor Wayne Smith and Dr Rod Philpot

Doctor of Philosophy (Shared with AUT)

Vincent Minjeres Tactical learning experiences in New Zealand Secondary School Boys Basketball  
Master of Education
Kathy Harvey From side-line to center-field: Promoting Health and Physical Education as the unsung hero in developing key competencies in New Zealand primary school students Co-Supervisor with Associate Professor Wayne Smith




2018: International Research Visiting Fellowship to the University of British Columbia. Awarded by the University of British Columbia, 5th July 2018.

2017:  Te Iho-Takaro Ringawera Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Physical Education profession.  Awarded by Physical Education New Zealand (PENZ), 11th July 2017.

2015:  Appointed inaugural member of the Auckland Advocacy Alliance. The Alliance is an initiative funded by the Auckland City Council to bring together industry and community leaders with the purpose of driving economic, social and professional development for Auckland.

2014:  NZ Business Events Award in recognition for the way the 2014 AIESEP World Congress and 2015 ISATT Biennial conference raised New Zealand’s international profile, encouraged knowledge transfer and generated opportunities for trade and investment.

2013: Physical Education New Zealand Fellow awarded for outstanding contribution to leadership, governance, and scholarship in Physical Education in New Zealand.

2006: Selected to attend UoA Future Heads Leadership Programme

1998:Tertiary scholarship ($8000), one of two awarded annually by the Auckland College of Education to support staff undertaking Doctoral studies

1998: Swedish scholar exchange programme to University of Gavle (Sweden)

1997: Branch Award for contribution to Physical Education New Zealand

Areas of expertise

Teacher Education, Physical Education Curriculum and Pedagogy, Educational Sociology, Complexity Studies of Education, Self-study of Practice methodologies

Committees/Professional groups/Services

Executive Editorial Committee, Asia Pasific Journal of Sport, Health and Physical Education

Programme Co-Chair, S-STEP Castle Conference (2016 - 2022)

Chair, AIESEP Special interest group on TGfU

Member of the Auckland Advocacy Alliance

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Ovens, A. (2017). Putting complexity to work to think differently about transformative pedagogies in teacher education. Issues in Teacher Education, 26 (3), 38-51.
  • Butler, J., & Ovens, A. P. (2015). The TGfU governance networks: From conception to special interest group. Ágora para la Educación Física y el Deporte, 17 (1), 77-92. Related URL.
  • Ovens, A., & Fletcher, T. (Eds.) (2014). Self-study in Physical Education teacher education: Exploring the interplay of practice and scholarship. London: Springer. 10.1007/978-3-319-05663-0
  • Smith, W., & Ovens, A. (2014). Learning bodies: Embedded, embedding and always emerging. In O'Connor P, K. Fitzpatrick (Eds.) Education and the body (pp. 115-126). Auckland, New Zealand: Edify Ltd.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Wayne Smith, Katie Fitzpatrick
  • Garbett, D., & Ovens, A. (Eds.) (2014). Changing practices for changing times: Past, present and future possibilities for self-study research: Proceedings of the tenth international conference on self-study of teacher education practices. Auckland, New Zealand: University of Auckland. Pages: 220.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Dawn Garbett
  • Ovens, A. P. (2013). Criticality in HPE: Think Piece 6: Disturbing practice in teacher education. New Zealand Physical Educator, 46 (2), 20-21. Related URL.
  • Ovens, A. P., Hopper, T., & Butler, J. (2013). Reframing curriculum, pedagogy and research. In A. P. Ovens, T. Hopper, J. Butler (Eds.) Complexity thinking in Physical Education: Reframing curriculum, pedagogy and research (pp. 1-13). London: Routledge.
  • Ovens, A., Hopper, T., & Butler, J. (Eds.) (2013). Complexity Thinking in Physical Education: Reframing Curriculum, Pedagogy and Research. London: Routledge. Related URL.


Contact details

Primary office location

Level 5, Room 530
New Zealand

Web links