A Comprehensive Assessment of Secondary Physical Education Teacher Fitness Levels

Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Exhibit Hall Poster Area 1 (Convention Center)
Kevin Hunt, Paige Paige Carver, Taylor Bradberry and Courtney Campbell, Georgia College, Milledgeville, GA
Background/Purpose: The National Guidelines for Physical Education Teacher Education espouse the position that practicing educators should be “fitness-competent” (National Standards & Guidelines for PETE, 2009). This recommendation is deemed essential to the success of initiatives designed to enhance overall fitness levels in students, based on concepts related to Social Cognitive Theory, which maintain the position that role-modeling is a powerful motivator in influencing learner development.        

Method:  Certified secondary physical education teachers (N=156: 115 males, 41 females) from Georgia public schools were administered the Fitnessgram 9 assessment battery.  Participants were randomly contacted through public school email addresses for study participation.  Participants represented 64 of the 193 state school systems.   Participants were assessed using all formal Fitnessgram9 protocols on: aerobic capacity (20m pacer), muscular strength (push-up & curl-up), muscular endurance (push-up & curl-up), flexibility (single leg sit & reach), and body composition (height & weight).  All testing sessions were completed individually and scored live by a trained assessor.  All sessions were video-recorded, where a sample of recorded sessions were analyzed for reliability. Reliability was established at 99%. 

Analysis/Results: Descriptive statistics were generated regarding overall, male, and female scores on each area of assessment.  Single sample t-tests were used to compare participants mean scores against Health Fitness Zone (HFZ) standards for each area of assessment.  Significance levels were set at .05.   Results show that the vast majority of males and females are performing significantly below the HFZ standards for “fitness-competent” adults.  Males scored significantly below the HFZ standards on all assessment areas, with the exception of push-ups.  Females scored significantly below HFZ standards in the areas of aerobic capacity, flexibility, and body composition.  However, despite performing poorly on the muscular strength and endurance assessments, females did not perform significantly below the HFZ in these areas.      

Conclusions: The results of this study indicate that male and female secondary physical education teachers in the state of Georgia are unable to perform the majority of Fitnessgram9 tests at a healthy, “fitness-competent” level.  Hence, it appears the physical education teachers are not currently in a position to be adequate role models for their learners.  The obvious disconnect that has been observed between educator practices and espoused instructional messages has the potential to undermine the effectiveness of the instructor.  To what degree this level of hypocrisy is perceived by the learners and hinders the development of healthy lifestyle practices is yet undetermined.