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Title:The role of physical education within a comprehensive school health promotion climate
Author(s):McLoughlin, Gabriella Maria
Director of Research:Graber, Kim C.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Graber, Kim C.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Woods, Amy M.; Khan, Naiman A.; Metzler, Mike; Templin, Thomas
Department / Program:Kinesiology & Community Health
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):physical education
school health
Abstract:Increasing childhood obesity rates across the United States have raised public health concerns. Governing bodies such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have responded by issuing recommendations for schools to promote healthy eating and physical activity, with the goal of attenuating the rise in obesity. Although many interventions have been conducted to elicit positive outcomes in children’s health behavior, there is limited research related to the role of physical education in school health promotion or how comprehensive health models are developed and sustained over time. The purpose of this study, therefore, was to discern the role of physical education within a comprehensive school health promotion climate. A case study was conducted with one K-8 school, Greenlite Academy, situated in a large urban school district (>500 schools) serving a predominantly Hispanic student body (>80%). Data were collected over a semester-long period (August to December) utilizing a variety of quantitative and qualitative tools. Students in grades 4-8 (120) were recruited to participate in physical activity assessment via accelerometry (ActiGraph wGT3X+) over a 7-day period. Complete data (i.e. more than three days wear time with >eight hours each day) were available for 105 participants. Activity data were analyzed using ActiLife software (ActiGraph, Pensacola, FL) and were segmented into physical education, school day, and daily time periods. All raw data were analyzed to reveal time spent in sedentary, light, moderate, vigorous, and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) for each time segment. From these data, a ratio score of minutes of MVPA accrued in physical education to overall daily MVPA was calculated. To assess the contribution of physical education to overall activity and the degree to which such contribution varies according to activity level, a 2x2 ANOVA (sex x activity level) was run using a tertile split for daily MVPA (low, moderate, high MVPA). In addition to measurement of physical activity, physical education lessons (N=37) were systematically observed using the System for Observing Fitness Instruction Time (SOFIT) to discern lesson context and student activity levels. Formal interviews were conducted with students (n=36), classroom teachers (n=8), physical/health education teachers (n=4), parents (n=16), and administrators (n=3) to understand their experiences with and perceptions of physical education, health policy, and involvement with the school’s health promotion model. Informal interviews were also conducted with teachers at discretionary times, such as before/after lessons and at the end of the school day. Field notes were taken to document routines and procedures salient to health promotion through observing physical/health education and classroom lessons, recess, lunchroom procedures, and other health/wellness programming. Documents were also gathered, such as the school wellness policy, staff bulletins, letters to parents, and physical education/health curricula, adding contextual information to triangulate interview and observation data. The wellness policy was analyzed using the WellSAT tool to show strength and comprehensiveness of policies. Analysis of lesson context revealed that students in grades K-8 were engaged in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity for over half (51%) of the lesson, and that lessons were primarily spent in skill development/game play contexts. Parents and students viewed the physical education program positively and perceived it to be a necessary component of the health promotion model. Unfortunately, physical education staff felt isolated from key decisions regarding health promotion and curriculum, which caused a sense of marginalization. Moreover, a lack of collaboration hindered the potential of the program to make a stronger impact on school health promotion. Despite these findings, physical activity accrued during physical education contributed a significant proportion (up to 30%) of students’ daily physical activity, and after splitting the sample into low, moderate, and high activity groupings, significant differences were observed in the contribution of physical education to overall activity between the low and high activity groups. No significant interaction between sex and activity level was observed, showing only main effects for activity level. Analysis of Greenlite’s policies revealed high strength and comprehensive scores based on the Wellness School Assessment Tool, reflecting the strong health and wellness mission. Clear efforts to seek stakeholder input (particularly students and parents) were evident, in addition to assigning students extra responsibilities, such as leading recess for younger grades, to increase adherence to policies. Teachers infused wellness into their pedagogy, delivering a consistent message across the school environment; such messaging transcended into the home environment. Unfortunately, a lack of cultural sensitivity in the school menu, inconsistent training for teachers to deliver activity breaks and lessons, and poor resources such as space, emerged as barriers to policy fidelity.
Issue Date:2018-07-10
Rights Information:Copyright 2018 Gabriella McLoughlin
Date Available in IDEALS:2018-09-27
Date Deposited:2018-08

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