Why students hate, tolerate, or love gym: A study of attitude formation and associated behaviors in physical education

by Carlson, Teresa Bernice

Abstract (Summary)
The purpose of this study was to investigate secondary students' attitudes toward physical education and to identify the variables that contribute to the formation of those attitudes. In addition, the link between the attitudes that students hold toward physical education and their behavior in physical education class was investigated. A survey given to 150 students was used as a screening device to select thirty-six participants. Data were collected by: (a) conducting two group interviews with each of the student participants, (b) conducting stimulated recall sessions and individual interviews, (c) observing classes, (d) videotaping classes, and (e) interviewing each of the four teachers who were conducting the observed classes. The data were coded and analyzed revealing differences and similarities between students who held varying attitudes toward physical education. Aspects of cultural, societal, and school contexts were found to be the major influences of student attitudes toward physical education. The major influences within the cultural context were gender, an idolization of elite sport persons and a compartmentalization of the body and mind. Within the societal context, influential factors were family, mass media, the participants' sporting experience and skill level, peers, previous physical education experiences, and perceptions of fitness. These factors influenced the self concept and self esteem of the students. The most influential factor within the school context was the teacher. Students often expected (a) physical education to be fun, (b) physical education class to have few goals or challenges, (c) learning not to take place in physical education, and (d) physical education to be sport. Those expectations lead many students to believe that physical education was not a "real" subject. This belief, together with the influential factors within the three contexts, affected student attitude toward physical education. The findings suggested that student behavior often does indicate attitude. Students, however, could be influenced by certain situational pressures which placed them under pressure to act in a way contrary to their attitude.
Bibliographical Information:


School:University of Massachusetts Amherst

School Location:USA - Massachusetts

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:01/01/1994

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