High School Student's Curricular Activity and Gender-Setting Preferences

Friday, April 3, 2009
Exhibit Hall RC Poster Sessions (Tampa Convention Center)
Christina Ogrin and James C. Hannon, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT
Purpose: It is important to design the physical education (PE) curriculum utilizing activities that interest youth in an effort to promote lifetime activity. It is equally important to offer activities in an environment that is viewed as safe and supportive. An issue in PE is whether to teach in coeducational or single gender settings. The purposes of this study were to identify student's activity preferences to be included as part of their PE curriculum and to identify which activities students felt should be offered coeducational or single gender.

Methods: Participants were 618 high school students aged 14-18 years, enrolled in PE classes at six schools within a metropolitan area of the Southwestern U.S. Data was gathered from a survey administered by the PE teachers. Students were asked to provide demographic information including age, gender, grade level, and sports participation in and outside of school. Students were also instructed to place a check mark next to activities that they would like to have as part of their PE curriculum from a list of 70 possible activities, and for all 70 activities to indicate whether they should be taught in a coeducational or single gender setting.

Analysis/Results: Descriptive data and Chi-square analysis were generated using SPSS 16.0. Chi-square analysis revealed significant differences ( < .01) for activity preferences by gender for 31 activities. However, overall both males and females tended to prefer more individual and non-traditional sports, such as laser tag (74.9%), bowling (70.3%), and snowboarding (57.7%). The only traditional team sports to make the top ten were basketball, football, and volleyball. Activity choice preferences remained consistent by age and grade level with few significant differences. Significant findings for school sport participation and other sport participation revealed that students who do not participate in school sports were more interested in team sports and highly competitive sports, while students who do not participate in other sport outside of school preferred more non-traditional sports. Chi-square analysis revealed significant gender differences for coeducational versus single-gender settings for seven activities. The most notable differences were found for yoga (coed: males 84.2% vs. females 69.8%) and gymnastics (coed: males 81.5% vs. females 68.8%). However, both males and females favored all 70 activities to be taught coeducational.

Conclusions: Physical education can help promote lifetime physical activity by providing students with meaningful learning and social experiences. Physical educators should consider students curricular preferences and teach in coeducational settings at the high school level.