Facilitators and Barriers to Improving School Physical Education

Friday, March 16, 2012: 2:45 PM
Room 204 (Convention Center)
Monica Lounsbery, University of Nevada–Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV

Background/Purpose Multiple barriers hinder physical education from contributing to public health goals. Yet, some schools have taken measures to improve physical education through the adoption of evidence-based programs while others have not. Understanding school facilitators and barriers to improving physical education can provide critical insight into potential policy targets and advocacy strategies.

Method To better understand school facilitators and barriers to improving physical education programs, pairs of principals and physical education teachers from 154 schools that had and had not adopted evidence-based physical education from 34 states completed questionnaires. Differences between Adopter and Non-Adopter schools were tested using t-tests or Wilcoxon Signed Rank Tests and chi-square analyses.

Analysis/Results More significant differences between teachers in adopter and non-adopter schools than for principals were found. Physical education programs were rarely evaluated. While principals reported they play a major role in the adoption of school curricula, they had limited knowledge of their physical education programs. Principals reported that physical education teachers were found to have the greatest influence on their decisions about physical education.

Conclusions Principals lack understanding and vision for their physical education programs. Policies related to school administrator licensure and school physical education program evaluation requirements should be highly considered. Research translation efforts that target school principals are greatly needed. Additionally, physical education teacher professional development should emphasize advocacy and the need to build a strong relationship with the building principal.