Understanding students' experiences of curricular activities in urban high school physical education and their impact on choices of physical activity in college
Lackman, Jeremy Shane
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Public education is a rite of passage for youth; it is an avenue to acquire social and educational skills that promote social advancement. Yet some urban schools lack necessary facilities and equipment to allow for adequate learning (Montalvo, 2007). There is evidence that factors such as poverty and violence influence the quality of education that students receive (Hannaway & Talbert, 1993; Wells, Lipton, Hirshberg & Oakes, 1995). Student voice research in education is integral in understanding how to improve educational settings for students (Corbett & Wilson, 2002; Dyson, 2006; Graham, 1995; Pissanos & Allison, 1993). The purpose of this study was firstly to understand first-year college students’ reflections on their urban school PE program and secondly to ascertain the impact that high school PE had on their participation in college physical activity. Participants of this study were sixteen college Freshman students enrolled in basic physical education classes in the Fall semester of 2013 who had taken at least one physical education class in an urban school setting during their high school years. Data collection methods included semi-structured, open-ended, qualitative interviews. Constant comparison method (Glaser and Strauss, 1967) and thematic content analysis were used in data analysis. Several findings emerged and they include the following: (a) state mandated courses in physical education, (b) unfavorable teaching conditions that included overcrowded schools and a lack of material resources, (c) teacher characteristics such as a lack of: enthusiasm, teaching, caring, and structure, (d) teacher/coach role conflict, (e) favoritism towards athletic students, and (f) sexism in teaching. Students desired changes for the improvement of urban physical education programs which included: development of a diversified curriculum where non-traditional sports and activities are offered, more in-depth coverage of sports that students care about, and provision of adequate equipment and resources to promote student engagement in physical education. Finally, scholars in teacher training programs need to prepare teachers for the difficult and challenging world of urban schools.