Looking back on high school, we are able to recall physical education class and the positives/negatives it presented. There were students that viewed class as enjoyable, whereas some completely dreaded it. As you may recall, those that did not participate, or only gave partial effort made the organized activity difficult to perform. And if little participation was not due to students, the instructor may have had something to do with the decreased enthusiasm for physical activity. According to Pate et. al. (2001), "Physical activity rate decline precipitously during the high school years... A consequence of these low physical activity levels, rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes are increasing among all adolescent population groups" (p. 1). In order to prevent such health risks, intervention tools must be integrated. Research has suggested that an important tool to promote physical activity depends on successful teaching strategies.
There are many characteristics that make effective teachers and learning environments. Researchers Ferrer-Caja and Weiss (2000) found that teachers who focused on effort, learning, and self-improvement maximized intrinsic motivation which brought more effort and persistence in physical activity. A competitive and "out-doing others" perspective revealed to be detrimental to the student's motivation (p. 9). There are ways to instruct that will help students focus on effort, learning, and self-improvement. A study conducted by Zeng et. al. (2009) suggested that teachers should carefully plan and implement their instructions with Informing (teacher tells, explains, demonstrates, reviews, or summarizes); Questioning (teacher asks questions that are intended to evoke a verbal or motor response); and Feedback (teacher gives feedback that is immediate, specific, and task relevant) to ensure the quality of physical education (p. 8). Teachers must find the right balance between each teaching strategy in order to achieve adequate amount of physical activity in class and promotion of healthy behavior outside the classroom. When such a balance exists, the hope for more participation is available.
Several research studies have found that integrating physical education in the school system has several benefits to students. One study reported that partaking in physical education positively correlated with less television watching, healthier eating, and more vigorous physical activity (Tassitano et. al. (2009), p. 4). As these correlates are greatly beneficial, physical education should remain required of students. As physical education leads to healthier living outside the classroom, some researchers still believe that even more intervention tools could be integrated. In reference to Pate et al.'s research study, LEAP (Lifestyle Education for Activity Program) is an intervention that is meant to teach behavioral skills that will help students to be active in other settings (p. 4). Introducing opportunities such as sports, fun active activities, and healthy eating habits will allow students to explore possibilities and incorporate behavior that encourages good health.
Physical education class may not be considered a student's favorite class, but students and teachers must be aware of the importance of physical activity and health. Teaching strategies must be planned out and balanced appropriately. Implementing the right amount of instruction and physical activity, maximizing intrinsic motivation, and integrating behavioral skills will encourage effort and persistence in physical education. In doing so will allow the opportunity for students to appreciate physical education and good health. As a teacher, providing students with opportunities is an essential objective in order to reach the main goal: creating the best future possible.
Ferrer-Caja, E., & Weiss, M.R. (2000). Predictors of Intrinsic Motivation Among Adolescent Students in Physical Education. American Alliance for Health, Physical Education and Dance. Vol. 71, No. 3, pp 267-279.
Pate, R.R., Ward, D.S., Saunders, R.P., Felton, G., Dishman, R.K., & Dowda, M. (2005). Promotion of Physical Activity Among High-School Girls: A Randomized Controlled Trial. American Journal of Public Health. September 2005, Vol 95, No. 9.
Tassitano, R.M., Barros, M.V.G., Tenorio, M.C.M., Bezerra, J., Florindo, A.A., & Reis, R.S. (2010). Enrollment in Physical Education Is Associated With Health-Related Behavior Among High School Students. Journal of School Health. March 2010, Vol. 80, No. 3.
Zeng, H. Z., Leung, R., Wenhao, L., & Hipscher, M. (2009). Physical Education in Urban High School Class Settings: Features and Correlations between Teaching Behaviors and Learning Activities. Early Winter 2009, Vol. 66, Issue 4.