An Analysis of Physical Activity and Elementary Physical Education Curricula

Friday, April 3, 2009
Exhibit Hall RC Poster Sessions (Tampa Convention Center)
Emily Clapham, Rhode Island College, Wakefield, RI

A single subject research design (ABAB) was used to examine amount and level of participation in physical activity among 106 suburban 4th and 5th graders during physical education class and whether the use of a technological device and/or teacher instruction contributed to increased participation in physical activity. While the research focus was the amount and level of activity in the gymnasium, the use of the technological devices, either a heart rate monitor (HRM) or a pedometer (PED), was studied. A curriculum which was pedagogically centered on the use of the technological devices and written specifically for the study was also developed and studied.


There were six participant groups employed for this research. The HRM and PED groups wore HRM's and PED's respectively, while participating in typical or “traditional” physical education class. The HRM SC and the PED SC groups wore the technological devices and received supportive curricula (SC)/instruction with the devices representative of the “New” Physical Education. The No HRM group wore a pedometer and received the same supportive curricula as the HRM SC group. One experienced physical education teacher taught all of groups.


Steps/minute data were taken from the PED groups. Averages of steps/minute were calculated and a One Way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) was conducted to compare the groups to one another. Steps/minute and heart rate data were also collected from the HRM groups. Averages of steps/minute and heart rate in beats per minute (bpm) were calculated and a One Way ANOVA was conducted for both measurements. The results pointed towards a correlation between supportive curricula for HRM's and PED's and increased level and amount of physical activity.

The average steps/minute for the PED groups were: PED SC A= 69.9 steps/minute, PED SC B= 89.52 steps/minute and PED = 72.64 steps/minute. The average steps/minute and average bpm for the HRM groups were: HRM= 98 steps/minute and 143.36 bpm, HRM SC=116 steps/minute and 153 bpm, No HRM SC= 89 steps/minute.


It was concluded that pedometers and heart rate monitors, combined with supportive curricula and integrated into physical education classes, increased both amount and level of physical activity. In addition, HRM's and PED's helped to keep the children on task and focused during PE, and should be considered a critical tool and motivational device to comat the lack of physical activity among youth.