Implementation fidelity of a physical education intervention

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Jerry W. Loflin (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Catherine Ennis

Abstract: The American educational system has remained relatively stable for the last century as technology, personnel, and evidence-based practices have evolved in schools to serve today's diverse student populations. As researchers continue to design, implement, and evaluate school-based interventions to better serve students, teachers, and schools, complexity theory may serve as a framework for better understanding today's educational system. New school-based curricular interventions are fundamental in meeting the diverse needs of today's students and improving student outcomes. However, the level of intervention effectiveness may be diminished or nullified if a program is implemented in a manner inconsistent with the innovator's plan. Therefore, measuring the extent to which a program implementer faithfully adheres (i.e., fidelity) to the innovator's program ideals during an intervention can contribute to the validation of program outcomes. For this reason, the purpose of this study was to investigate teachers' implementation fidelity and their rationales for changes to the intervention. The findings from this research can assist researchers to effectively anticipate and address factors that may impact fidelity level and student outcomes. I used a mixed methods design to collect and analyze both quantitative and qualitative data examining implementation fidelity of a school-based physical activity intervention. Data were collected via lesson observations, teacher interviews, student knowledge tests, and accelerometers. Categories and coding themes were developed and quantified from lesson observation field notes to measure teacher fidelity. Multiple regression was used to analyze the relationship between teacher fidelity and student outcomes (i.e., knowledge growth and physical activity intensity levels). Teacher interviews were coded and categorized to understand teacher rationales for changes to the intended intervention. A 42-item dichotomous rubric was developed from the open and axial coding of the observation field notes to quantify teacher fidelity scores. Multiple regression with fidelity score as the predictor and knowledge acquisition as the criterion variable, indicated that teachers' fidelity scores accounted for a large portion of variance in student knowledge growth (R2 = .79, adj R2 = .74, p < .05). The open and axial coding of the teacher interviews revealed there were a multitude of preexisting contextual factors (e.g., lack of instructional time, space, and equipment) that influenced teachers' fidelity to the intended curriculum. Based on the findings from this research, it appears the more faithful teachers are to teaching research-based curricula as designed, the greater the impact the curricula can have on student achievement. Additionally when designing and revising school-based interventions, researchers should consider the nature of the contextual factors and the extent to which they negatively impact the intervention.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2013
Physical education, American educational system, Diversity,
Educational change $z United States
Educational leadership $z United States

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