The purpose of this study was to investigate the attitude toward physical education (ATPE) and sports/activities preference of high school students in urban public schools.
Participants were 589 grades 9-12 high school students (354 boys and 235 girls) aged 16.80 ± 1.60 years from a public school district in New York City. These students participated in physical education (PE) programs governed by the state and the school district, once per day and five days per week. An adapted version of the Physical Education Activity Attitude Scale (PEAAS) originally developed by Valdez (1998) was administered to the participants. The PEAAS possesses 20 items with 5-point Likert-type scales. Responses to the items result in PEAAS scores ranging from 20 to 100: scores 20-40 indicate negative ATPE; scores 41-60 indicate neutral ATPE; and scores 61-80 indicate positive ATPE. Additionally, a Sports/Activities Preference Questionnaire was also administered to the participants.
Results showed that the mean PEAAS score over the 20 items was 68.26 ± 9.94, indicating participants' overall positive ATPE. The three items with the highest scores were: PE is the best way to obtain a young looking and agile body (M = 78.20 ± 17.42); being serious about PE is smart (M = 76.74 ± 19.48); and PE benefits those who regularly participate in it (M = 76.60 ± 20.68). As for sports preference, 65.4% of the participants preferred team sports; 19.5% preferred individual sports; and 15.1% preferred dual-game sports. As for activities preference, 29.5% of the participants favored weight-lifting; 29.4% favored aerobic exercise; 19.5% favored dance; 13.6% favored outdoor adventure; and 8.0 % favored martial arts. The multivariate analysis of variance results indicated that significant (p < .01) differences in PEAAS scores existed in specific items with respect to gender, social economic status (SES), and sports preference: (a) males scored higher than females regarding their enjoyment of strenuous exercises; (b) individuals of high SES scored lower than those of low SES in believing the scientific base of PE; and (c) team-sport players scored higher than both individual-sport and dual-game sport players in believing that exercise could relieve stress.
In conclusion, the participants in this study appear to possess positive ATPE. As for sport/activities preference, the participants tend to be in favor of team sports and a variety of activities. Gender, SES, and sports preference appear to be the factors that most influence the ATPE of this sample of urban high school students.