Sam Fenton

Position:  Lecturer
Study area: Physical Education and Outdoor Recreation  
Location:  Gippsland Campus, Room 2S211
Phone:  03 51226062


  • Doctor of Philosophy, Education – Federation University – Continuing
  • Master of High Performance Sport – University of Canberra - 2017
  • Graduate Certificate in Education – Federation University - 2015



  • Bachelor of Sport, Physical and Outdoor Education
  • Bachelor of Health and Physical Education
  • Bachelor of Outdoor and Environmental Education


  • Health and Physical Education Curriculum (EDBED1018)
  • Perspectives on Health, Outdoor and Physical Education (EDHPE1003)
  • Relationships, Sexuality & Communication (EDHPE2001)
  • Health and Lifestyle (EDHPE1002)
  • Swimming and Water Safety (EDHPE1001)
  • Transition to Professional Practice (EDBPE4301)
  • Games Pedagogy (EDHPE4000)


    Sam is a lecturer in Physical Education and Outdoor Recreation in the School of Education. Sam first joined Federation University Australia in 2017 as a casual tutor in biomechanics. He joined the School of Education as a full-time lecturer in 2019. At that time, he was working on the Physical Education Physical Literacy (PEPL) project in South Australia through the University of Canberra. He is studying a Ph.D in Education with Federation University, developing a thesis on physical literacy in regional primary schools. Prior to Federation University, Sam worked as an Education Manager at Federation Training (now TAFE Gippsland), managing a diverse portfolio including nursing, VET in Schools (VETiS), arts, media, and business studies. Other roles at Federation Training included lecturing and coordinating in the Bachelor of Sport Management in partnership with Federation University. Since 2007, Sam has been an education consultant working with primary schools and high schools throughout Gippsland, developing cross-curricular physical activity and leadership programs, along with sport science workshops and curriculum support. He is also a co-founder and director of Control High Performance, which provides school-based physical literacy programs and high-performance athlete services, situated at St. Paul’s Anglican Grammar in Traralgon.

Areas of expertise

    As an early career researcher, Sam’s Ph.D thesis on physical literacy is based on a history of working with schools to develop sustainable cultural change, including program innovation, student workshops and teacher professional development.

    (1) Physical literacy

    Physical literacy is an emerging field of enquiry guiding policy, curriculum and practice in education. Although it has a broad range of definitions and conceptual understandings, Sam’s research in a primary school physical education context involves the competence, confidence and motivation to value movement for its own sake. His conceptual stance aims toward student participation in a wide variety of meaningful physical activity experiences over the course of a lifetime. Sam’s early experience in physical literacy involved starting a business which adopted the Sport Australia model of physical literacy. Since then, he has worked on the Physical Education Physical Literacy (PEPL) project in South Australia (through University of Canberra) which was also based on the Sport Australia model. His research now extends beyond the Sport Australia model, incorporating design thinking and a socioecological approach to provide an innovative contribution to understanding of how physical literacy can be operationalised in a primary school setting.

    (2) Socioecological education

    Inspired by his lecturers Dr. Brian Wattchow and Dr. Justen O’Connor in the early 2000s, Sam took a socioecological approach to designing a whole school physical culture intervention at Newborough East Primary school in 2009. This initiative was supported by the Federal Government and supported all teachers, all students, community groups and local Government participate and develop through partnerships, activities and professional development in areas of physical activity, healthy lifestyle and student peer leadership. Socioecological education approaches take into consideration lived experience, place, experiential pedagogies, student agency and participation. Sam is currently researching and exploring the potential of a socioecological approach to reform primary school physical education to improve physical literacy. This approach takes into consideration that a social ecology exists in primary school physical education, incorporating social, environmental, geographical and cultural aspects that impact behaviour, identity, environment and policy.

    (3) Design thinking

    Design thinking provides a missing link in Sam’s earlier understanding of sustainable change in primary school culture. While studying business innovation in Silicon Valley in 2018 through Deakin University, Sam was introduced to the leading edge of design thinking approaches, learning directly from innovation staff at Google, Johnson & Johnson, General Electric, LinkedIn and Xero. Sam’s current research incorporates design thinking as a symbiotic methodology with socioecological interventions to improve physical literacy in a primary school setting. The core of design thinking is a human-centred approach that begins with empathy, seeking to understand the enablers, barriers and influences that shape behaviour, identity, environment and policy. Solutions to problems identified in the empathy stage are brainstormed and prototypes are developed through a co-design approach involving students, teachers and stakeholders.

Research interests

  • Physical Literacy
  • Physical Education
  • Design Thinking
  • Socioecological Education
  • Aquatics
  • Biomechanics


International Physical Literacy Association (IPLA)
Australian Strength and Conditioning Association (ASCA)
Australian Council for Health, Physical Education and Recreation (ACHPER)