Issues in Physical Education by Levone

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									High School Students’ Attitudes toward Physical Education from Four Boroughs of New York City
Howard Z. Zeng1,
Raymond W. Leung1, Michael Hipscher1, & Craig Stanco2, George Zanotto3

College, the City University of New York, NY; 2Franklin D. Roosevelt High School, Brooklyn, NY; and 3Brooklyn Technical High School, Brooklyn, NY.


Since 1990, there has been an increase in the body of knowledge in PE in terms of student attitudes. The increase in interest may also be attributed to the influence of attitudes toward further participation in physical activities after school (Carlson,
1995; Ennis, 1996; papaioannou, 1994; Portman, 1995; Tannehill, & Zakrajsek, 1993) and

out of school that related to students’ achievement in athletics activities
(Graham, 1995; Lee, 1997; Silverman, 1993; Subramaniam & Silverman, 2000; 2007).


Stucky-Ropp and DiLorenzo (1993) reported that enjoyment in physical activity classes appears to be associated with both girls and boys. Students who have hated gym classes may select to avoid participation in physical activities (PA) in their daily life (Carlson, 1995; Silverman and Subramaniam (1999) also reported that students tend to participate in PA they most get pleasure from.

Portman, 1995).

Identifying and understanding factors that associate with children’s PA participation is critical to promoting current and lifelong physical activity participation of children (Sallis, Prochaska, & Taylor, 2000). Among many factors, children’s attitudes are considered to be a key element influencing PA participation (Biddle & Mutrie, 2001; Hagger, Chatzisarantis, & Biddle, 2002; Solmon, 2003; Subramaniam & Silverman, 2002).

Children who have more positive attitudes toward PA are reported to be more likely to participate in physical activity outside of school (Biddle &

Chatzisarantis, 1999; Chung & Phillips, 2002; Hagger et al., 2002; McKenzie, 2003; Portman, 2003) and demonstrate higher PA amounts (Hagger, Cale, & Almond, 1995) than those with less positive



According to the literature on the topic of students’ attitudes toward PE, most of the previous research targeted elementary school children. Children at the elementary level, however, tend to report inflated physical activity ability, interest, and attitude due to their limited developmental ability to self-evaluate.

In contrast, secondary school children’s selfreports were more realistic (Lee, 2004). Thus, it would be meaningful to examine secondary school children’s attitudes toward physical activity.

The significance of this study
New York City is the most populous and diverse city in the US. The City is at the center of international finance, politics, entertainment, and culture. The city comprises five boroughs: Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island. New York City also includes the largest population of immigrants from over 180 countries who help make it one of the most cosmopolitan places on earth.

More significantly, New York City contains the largest public school system in the country, with over 1 million students being taught in 1,200 separate schools. No studies, however, have been conducted that examine students’ attitudes toward PE and activities preference in a city like New York, where both the educational system and the students’ population possess the most diverse characteristics on earth.


Thus, the purpose of this study was to investigate the current status of attitudes toward PE and activities of the high school students in the public schools from four boroughs of New York City; and to provide meaningful information to help PE professionals improve their curriculum and programs.

Participants The current study was conducted during the 2007-2008 fall and spring semesters. Ten public high schools were selected from four boroughs (Mahhaton was not included) of New York City in the US. A total of 728 9th -12th grade students (249 boys and 479 girls) voluntarily participated in this study. Their ages were 15-19 yrs (M = 16.78 yrs, SD = 1.02 yrs).

The physical education (PE) curricular requirements and standards as outlined by the state and school districts were: (a) basic motor and manipulative skills, cardio respiratory endurance, flexibility, muscular strength, endurance, and body composition; (b) to participate in physical activities that develop physical fitness skills; demonstrate fundamental motor, non-locomotor, and manipulative skills; understand the effects of activity on the body and the risks associated with inactivity; understand the relationship between physical activity and individual well being; (c) students will have the necessary knowledge and skills to establish and maintain physical fitness, participate in physical activity, and maintain personal health (New York State
Education Department, 2007).

Cont. The students had one PE class per day, five days per week. Attention was focused on the high school level because biological developments in adolescence and social environmental factors led to changes in their perception and behavior. Moreover, PE was one of the courses in the high school curricula being ignored due to the emphasis on academic performance (e.g. the state exam).


Cont. Questionnaires Two questionnaires were employed and administered. The first questionnaire was the Physical Education Activity Attitude Scale (PEAAS) adopted by Zeng (2009) and originally developed by Adams (1963) and Valdez (1997). It is a paper and pencil self-report questionnaire with a 5-point Likert-type scale with responses ranging from 1 (Strongly Agree) to 5 (Strongly Disagree) summed across 20 items, resulting in a range of scores from 20 to 100. A score of 20 indicates the most negative attitude; 21-40 indicates a negative attitude; 41-60 indicates a neutral attitude; 61-80 indicates a positive attitude; and 81-100 indicates the most positive attitude (See Appendix A).

Cont. The second questionnaire was the Physical Education/Activities Preference Questionnaire (See Appendix B) with a Cronbach Alpha reliability coefficient of .92, an intraclass correlation coefficient of .90, and a scale validity coefficient of .93.

Results showed mean PEAAS scores of 68.600 (M = 3.430 + .919), indicating participants’ overall positive ATPE. The five items with the highest scores were items 2, 16, 18, 14 and 11 with M = 4.144 + .923; M = 4.136 + .834; M = 4.118 + .920; M = 4.027 + .929 and M = 4.001 + .791, respectively.

Results -2
These questions related to how the participants feel about PE classes and exercises on ‘benefits’, ‘degree of seriousness’ ‘perception’ and ‘value.’ These factors compose the most essential driving power that structures ATPE.


As for sports/activities preference, 59.20 % of students reported preferring team sports, 25.55 % of students reported preferring individual sports, and 15.25% of students reported preferring dual game sports. Aerobic exercises were ranked as favorite, with dance coming in second (41.21 % and 22.25 % respectively). Weight Lifting came in third with 17.86 %, followed by Outdoor Adventures and Martial Arts.

1. In summary, the current ATPE status of the participants from the four boroughs is positive. 2. The crucial factors that structure ATPE are ‘benefits’, ‘degree of seriousness’, ‘perception’, and ‘value’ regarding their PE classes and daily physical exercises.

3. The participants’ sports/activities preferences are: team sports, individual sports, dual game sports, aerobic exercises, dance, weight lifting, outdoor adventures, and martial arts.


Selected References
Adams, R. S. (1963). Two scales for measuring attitude toward physical education. Research Quarterly, 34, 91-94. Birtwistle, G. E., & Brodie, D. A. (1991). Children's attitudes towards activity and perceptions of physical education. Health Education Research, 6, 465-478. Carlson, T. B. (1995). We hate gym: Student alienation from physical education. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 4, 467-477. Chung, M., & Phillips, D. A. (2002). The relationship between attitude toward physical education and leisuretime exercise in high school students. Physical Educator, 59, 126-138. Colley, A., Comber, C., & Hargreaves, D. J. (1994). Gender effects in school subject preferences: A research note. Educational Studies, 20, 13-18. Greenwood, M., & Stillwell, J. (2001). Activity preferences of middle school physical education students. Physical Educator, 58, 26-29. Hagger, M. S., Chatzisarantis, N. L., & Biddle, J. H. (2002). A meta-analytic review of the theories of reasoned action and planned behavior in physical activity: Predictive validity and the contribution of additional variable. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 24, 3-32. Hick, M. K., Wiggins, M. S., Crist, R. W., & Moode, F. M. (2001). Sex differences in grade three students’ attitudes toward physical activity. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 93, 97-102. Koca, C., & Demirhan, G. (2004). An examination of high school students' attitudes toward physical education with regard to gender and sport participation. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 98, 754-758. Lee, A. M. (2004). Promoting lifelong physical activity through quality physical education. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance. 75, 21-26. Malina, R. M. (2001a). Physical activity and fitness: Pathways from childhood to adulthood. American Journal of Human Biology, 13, 162-172. McKenzie, T. L. (2003). Health-related physical education: Physical, activity fitness, and wellness. In S. J. Silverman & C. D. Ennis (Eds.), Student learning in physical education: Applying research to enhance instruction (pp. 207-226). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. New York State Education Department. (2007). The New York State Education Department Physical Education Profile. From

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