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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Middle school students perceptions of a physical education program
by Benedict, Karen L., Ed.D., University of Rochester, 2010, 196; 3421828
Abstract (Summary)

Best practice, developmentally appropriate physical education is specifically designed to meet the unique needs of all students. It is particularly focused on attending to all learning domains and should be an integral component in students' schooling (Gallahue & Cleland, 2003; Graham, 1995). A need for physical education that is developmentally appropriate and reflects best practice is important for all students; it is even more significant for students with special needs (Winnick, 2005).

Rising issues around childhood obesity further emphasize the vital need for this type of programming in physical education (United States Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control, 2008). In addition, a significant body of research points to a positive direct relationship between physical activity and learning, as well as, academic achievement (Blaydes-Madigan, 2003; DeKorp, 1998; Eastin, 2003).

Middle school students are particularly at risk; individuals who are physically active during their adolescent years are more likely to be active adults (Dishman & Dunn, 1988; Kuh & Cooper, 1992). Further, Wallhead (2007) suggests it is important that students enjoy physical activity to continue to use motor skills on their own time. Unfortunately, student perceptions are rarely considered in physical education program development (Carlson, 1995; Graham, 1995; Krouscas, 1999).

Therefore, under the umbrella of a socio-constructivist lens and through a qualitative analysis, the purpose of this study was to understand physical education from a middle school student perspective. This study required students to complete a critical incident survey, the Middle School Physical Education Critical Incident Survey (MSPECIS) (Krouscas, 1999). This study sought to answer the overarching question, based on student perceptions of their physical education experience, what modifications may be made in a physical education program to potentially enhance the satisfaction and activity level of middle school students? In order to answer the overarching question and the additional research questions, question one below was the initial course of action in framing the study and is addressed in the literature review. The study itself was not designed to answer question one. (1) How have social discourses and ideologies impacted physical education? (2) What is the significance of physical education these for middle school students? (3) How do these middle school students perceive their physical selves? (4) How do these middle school students perceive their physical education experience?

Based on the data reviewed, most students are satisfied with their middle school physical education experience. Most students consider themselves to have an average body build, consider themselves in good physical condition and good at sports. These students do, however, offer some suggestions for making their experience more meaningful. They suggest competition, fun, friends, student voice and more time in physical education are important components.

If used within the parameters of current laws, mandates and standards, it is hoped that the inclusion of student perception data into planning for physical education may lead to increased student engagement and satisfaction in physical education. In doing so, it may potentially promote increased health, wellness, and academic achievement.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Mock, Martha
School: University of Rochester
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 71/10, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Middle School education, Physical education, Educational psychology
Keywords: Developmentally appropriate, Middle school
Publication Number: 3421828
ISBN: 978-1-124-22194-6
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