Physical education class climate and adolescent girls’ physical activity

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Misti R. Mueller (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Pamela Kocher Brown

Abstract: Middle school girls demonstrate lower levels of physical activity than adolescent boys. Physical education class is the ideal opportunity to improve the amount of time spent participating in physical activity. The purpose of this research was to examine the impact of developing and implementing an alternative physical education program that was nontraditional and noncompetitive, and encouraged and supported physical activity for middle school girls. The program provided student choice, was aligned with motivational theories, and focused on increasing opportunities for social interaction in a positive learning environment to improve participation in physical education for adolescent females. This community engaged research project was an explanatory mixed-methods study designed to understand the impact of offering an alternative physical education curriculum with an emphasis on fun, student choice, and minimal competition on middle school girls’ physical activity participation levels in physical education class. Using a community engaged approach that focused on a reciprocal partnership with the physical education teacher, this alternative curriculum was implemented in 15 lessons over three months. Data were collected with pedometers, student ratings of enjoyment and activity at each class, student and teacher interviews, and investigator journaling. T-test results indicated that girls were more active than boys in the classes that involved choice or fun, whereas boys were more active than girls in a traditional class of ultimate football. Overall, both girls and boys met the recommended 50% moderate to vigorous activity time during physical education class throughout the program implementation. A qualitative codebook was developed from student and teacher interviews along with daily journal entries. Four major themes, Participation in physical activity during physical education, Nonparticipation in physical activity during physical education, Ways to improve physical education and Professional support arose from the qualitative data. Theme one was supported as girls consistently reported they would participate if they believed the activity was fun and were given a choice in physical activity. Nonparticipation, theme two, was a result of the students providing their reasons why they did not like to participate during physical education class. Theme three surfaced as both students and the teacher discussed their feelings towards how physical education could be improved. The final theme, Professional support, highlights the benefits of using a community engaged approach and the impact of the collaborative partnership between myself and the physical education teacher. Both quantitative and qualitative findings suggest that girls are more likely to participate if they have choice in activities or they perceive the activity to be fun. Continued research is needed to examine the role of supporting the physical education teacher in the development of alternative physical education programming.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2019
Community engagement, Motivation, Participation, Physical education
Physical education and training $x Study and teaching (Middle school)
Physical education for youth
Physical education for girls

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