The Status of Physical Education Performance Classes within Historically Black Colleges and Universities
Stier, William F., Quarterman, Jerome, Stier, Mark Martin, JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance
Researchers in this investigation examined the current status of performance, activity, or service offerings provided by American HBCUs as well as the policies, procedures, and practices which affect such curricula and performance programs.
A comprehensive study that concluded in late 1991 revealed the present status of various aspects of physical education and athletic programs within four-year, historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) which offer a major in physical education. Ten specific areas in physical education and athletics within HBCUs were examined: the characteristics of each institution; the role of the department chairperson; status of physical education majors; characteristics of physical education faculty and staff; the performance class offerings; the professional preparation curriculum; the intramural and recreation activities; the intercollegiate athletic program; the facilities; and the administrative structure of the physical education and athletic areas.
This article provides an insight into the current status of activity, performance, or service class offerings and policies within selected HBCUs. The surveyed population was determined by using the criteria of HBCUs as noted in the 1987 Federal Register. Peterson's Annual Guide (Lehman, 1989) was used to identify HBCUs which offered an undergraduate major in physical education. Schools classified as HBCUs were accredited, four-year institutions which considered themselves as historically black colleges or universities, were established prior to 1964, and continue to have as their principal mission the education of African Americans. Two-year colleges and vocational, technical, and theological institutions were not included in the study. A total of 58 institutions met the above criteria.
To gather the data, the researchers used a revised version of an earlier questionnaire developed and used by Stier (1971; 1982, December; 1986). The physical education chairpersons of the target schools were sent the revised survey instrument. Accompanying the instrument was a letter of explanation and a stamped, self-addressed return envelope. Additional follow-up letters and instruments were subsequently sent. The response generated from the three mailings was 88 percent (N=51) for HBCUs returning usable questionnaires. Because not all of the questions were answered on each of the survey instruments which were returned, it was necessary to adjust the total number when appropriate in analyzing the final data. The data are provided in percentages. Earlier investigations which surveyed various populations of colleges and universities garnered similar but varied rates of return.
Purpose of the Study
Researchers in this investigation examined the current status of what is commonly referred to as performance, activity, or service offerings provided by American HBCUs as well as the policies, procedures, and practices which affect such curricula and performance programs. After reviewing the literature, the researchers did not discover any published studies which dealt specifically with the performance curricula within HBCUs.
However, several published studies have dealt with the general topic of physical education programs and teachers within HBCUs (Davis, 1970, 1980; Rice & Leslie, 1987; Crase et al., 1991). Other research investigations have dealt with the status of black physical education faculty members within all colleges and universities (Kirk, 1969; Henry, 1969; Harvey, 1986; Crase & Walker, 1988).
Table 1. Frequency of Performance Classes Offered Within HBCUs Provided in at Least 50% of the Responding Institutions Rank Type of Performance Percentage of Institutions Class Offering the Class 1.5 Volleyball 92 1.5 Tennis 92 3 Swimming-Beginner 88 4 Badminton 86 5 Dance-Aerobic 82 6 Golf 80 7 Basketball 76 8 Archery 77 9 Softball 73 10.5 Dance-Modern 71 10.5 Track & Field 71 12 Gymnastics 69 13.5 Soccer 67 13.5 Bowling 67 15 Tumbling 65 16 Dance-Folk 63 17.5 Swimming-WSI 59 17.5 Dance-Square 59 19.5 Weight Control 51 19.5 Football 51
A wealth of research studies have examined the status of service or performance curricula within selected two- and/or four-year institutions of higher education in this country (Hunsicker, 1954; Cordts & Shaw, 1959; Oxendine, 1961, 1969, 1972, 1985; Yarnell, 1971; Thomas et al., 1973; Oxendine & Roberts, 1978; Trimble & Hensley, 1984; Stier, 1984, 1985; Miller, Dowell, & Pender, 1989; Boroviak, 1989). However, none of these researchers dealt specifically with HBCUs as a target population. Thus, this research investigation would seem to be the first attempt to examine the performance curricula and related policies, procedures, and practices within HBCUs.
General Characteristics of Institutions Studied. The student population of the HBCUs studied had a mean of 2,820. There was a wide range of students, from as few as 500 students to more than 11,000 students for the largest institution studied. More than half (57%) of the responding schools were classified as universities, with the rest classified as liberal arts colleges. Almost a quarter (24%) of the institutions were situated in large, major population centers, with a minimum population of 500,000. A similar percentage of schools (22%) were located in rural America (i.e., in small towns with less than 5,001 total population).
The vast majority (96%) of the 51 institutions which responded to this survey were coeducational. Ninety-four percent of the schools used the semester system. Forty-three percent of the HBCUs were publicly supported, 31 percent were private and religiously affiliated, and the remaining 26 percent were privately supported but had no religious affiliation. This contrasts sharply with Stier's earlier study (1982, Fall) which revealed that only 13 percent of the responding schools were public institutions and that 50 percent were private with some type of religious affiliation. The remaining schools (37%) were private with no religious affiliation.
All of the responding HBCUs offered a major in physical education with teacher certification. Additionally, 51 percent of the departments had a nonteaching major in physical education available to undergraduate students. In 66 percent of the institutions, a minor in physical education was also available.
Required Versus Elective Performance Programs. Ninety-four percent of the responding institutions required performance courses of the general undergraduate student population. This is quite high compared to earlier investigations. In 1989 Miller, Dowell, and Pender (1989) reported that only 45 percent of the schools with more than 5,000 undergraduates surveyed had a performance requirement for nonphysical education majors. Stier (1985) found that 73 percent of the physical education departments in small colleges and universities had such a requirement, and Trimble and Hensley (1984) reported that 60 percent of colleges with undergraduate enrollments of 500 and above had a requirement. The 1990 Trimble and Hensley study involving 1,130 schools revealed that 65 percent had a performance requirement for all undergraduate students, while an additional 7 percent of the institutions indicated that performance classes were required only in some departments. Earlier, Stier (1971) found that 95 percent of the small colleges and universities surveyed had some type of performance class requirement for the general student body. Cordts and Shaw (1960) reported that 67 percent of the random sample of 300 colleges and universities surveyed required all undergraduate students to take a performance class.
A large majority of all the physical education departments in the HBCUs studied (82%) had experienced an increase or decrease in the performance requirement within the past five years. This compares favorably with Stier's 1985 study which revealed that 74 percent of the schools studied had had such changes implemented during the previous five years. The majority (53%) of the HBCUs which had had a change in the performance requirements had experienced an expansion of or increase in the curricula of the performance program. This contrasts sharply with Stier's 1985 study which revealed that 97 percent of the responding schools which had experienced some type of change in the performance class requirements had experienced a decrease in the requirements. As a specific population, the HBCUs would seem to have a more stringent requirement than other groups of colleges and universities previously studied in terms of requiring a performance class or classes of all undergraduate students.
Frequency and Scope of Classes. Typically, the performance classes in the HBCUs met twice a week (88%) for 50 minutes (81%). The 1985 Stier investigation revealed that 76 percent of the schools provided a schedule of two classes per week, while 18 percent offered the three-days-a-week schedule. Although 50 minutes was also the accepted length of performance classes in the 1985 study, those schools also offered 40-minute classes (11%) as well as 60-minute classes (12%).
Volleyball and tennis were the most frequently provided performance classes within the HBCUs studied, with 92 percent of the physical education departments offering such classes. The two most frequently offered performance classes in the 1985 Stier study were tennis and badminton, while Miller, Dowell, and Pender (1989) found aerobic dancing and tennis offered most often by the schools in their investigation. The most frequently offered performance classes within HBCUs (offered in at least 50% of the schools surveyed) in terms of the number of schools providing such classes are provided in table 1. Seven out of the top 10 performance classes were individual-oriented rather than team sport-oriented. This reflects the continued trend over the past 20 years towards the inclusion of individual physical activities and fitness-type activities within the performance curricula. When the 20 most frequently offered performance courses were reviewed, 75 percent of those classes were individual-oriented.
Table 2 illustrates the performance classes provided in at least 50 percent of the schools surveyed in the 1985 Stier study and also in Miller, Dowell, and Pender's 1989 investigation. The 1985 study dealt with small colleges and universities, while the 1989 study dealt exclusively with schools possessing an undergraduate enrollment of at least 5,000 students.
Table 2. Service Classes, in Rank Order, Offered in 50% of the Institutions Studied Stier (1985) Miller, Dowell, & Pender (1989)(*) (1) Tennis (1) Aerobic Dance 82% (2) Badminton (2) Tennis 81% (3.5) Golf (tie) (3) Swimming 80% (3.5) Volleyball (tie) (4) Golf 78% (5) Beginning Swimming (5) Volleyball 77% (6) Advanced Swimming (6) Racquetball 76% (7) Archery (7.5) Fitness and conditioning 75% (8) Gymnastics (7.5) Badminton 75% (9) Lifesaving (9) Weight training 71% (10) Bowling (10) Bowling 66% (11) Racquetball (11) Aerobic run 64% (12) Basketball (12) Self-defense 59% (14) Soccer (tie) (13) Soccer 58% (14) Softball (tie) (14) Archery 57% (14) Tumbling (tie) (15.5) Scuba 56% (15.5) Social dance 56% (17) Modern dance 55% (18) Fencing 53% (19) Gymnastics 51% * Percent of schools offering this activity
An earlier study by Trimble and Hensley (1984) indicated that tennis was the most popular performance class. Their survey also revealed that the most frequently offered performance classes, in addition to tennis, were golf (78%), fitness and conditioning programs (75%), aerobic running (64%), soccer (58%), archery (57%), and scuba (56%).
Grading Policies. With one exception, all of the HBCUs which responded to the survey awarded letter grades for the various performance classes. All HBCU physical education departments which awarded letter grades included such grades as part of a student's cumulative grade point average (GPA). This is in stark contrast to Boroviak's 1989 study which revealed that only 37 percent of colleges and universities with enrollments over 15,000 students awarded letter grades. However, Miller, Dowell, and Pender (1989) found that 65 percent of the colleges awarded letter grades, while 32 percent used pass/fail grades for performance classes. Stier (1985) found that only 61 percent of colleges and universities had performance class grades count as part of the cumulative GPA.
Trimble and Hensley (1984) found that 62 percent of the schools in their study used a letter grade system, while 24 percent of the institutions used the pass/fail grading method. In the schools which used letter grades, 83 percent allowed grades awarded in physical education performance classes to be included in the cumulative GPA required for graduation. Cordts and Shaw (1960) revealed that 74 percent of the schools studied used letter grades coupled with 15 percent using the pass/fail system; Hunsicker (1954) found that 66 percent of the schools provided letter grades, and 23 percent used the pass/fail system.
Excessive absences automatically affected students' grades in the performance TABULAR DATA OMITTED classes in 77 percent of the HBCU physical education departments. Fifty percent of the schools allowed three cuts before grades were adversely affected. Nineteen percent of the physical education departments indicated that individual instructors determined the criteria for awarding grades in performance-type classes.
In examining the types of criteria used in the performance classes, this investigation revealed that both sport skill tests and knowledge examinations were the two most prevalent criteria used in evaluating students. Miller, Dowell, and Pender (1989) indicated that the motor skills tests and knowledge tests were used in 82 percent of the schools they surveyed. The percentage of HBCU institutions which used various criteria in awarding performance grades and the average percentage of the weight given each criterion are provided in table 3.
The above data compare favorably with Stier's 1985 results in which sport skill tests were used by 79 percent of the schools and knowledge tests were used in 77 percent of the institutions. That study also revealed that physical fitness tests (19%), attendance (69%), attire (10%), and social behaviors (4%) were used in the evaluation of college students enrolled in performance classes.
Adapted Classes and Substitutions. Special adapted performance classes were available in almost 7 out of 10 of the HBCUs surveyed. This is a marked improvement when compared with the findings revealed in Stier's 1985 study which revealed that only 50 percent of the schools provided adapted physical education performance classes. Trimble and Hensley (1984) indicated that only 32 percent of the schools responding to their survey provided at least one section of adapted physical education within the performance curriculum. They found that the larger the school the more likely the availability of an adapted performance class for students having special physical needs. Similarly, they found that public schools (52%) were more likely to offer such adapted performance classes than private colleges and universities (25%). Substitutions for the required performance classes within the HBCUs for the general student body were numerous and varied. In all, 58 percent of the HBCUs allowed some type of substitutions for their required performance classes. This compares with 63% of those schools reported by Stier (1985). The two most prevalent reasons for substitutions in the HBCUs include veteran status, allowed in 29 percent of the physical education departments, followed by membership in the ROTC program, which was acceptable in lieu of a performance class in 25% of the institutions. Other substitutions accepted by the HBCUs include age (13%), participation in intercollegiate athletics (10%), membership in the school band (8%), medical excuses (8%), and physical disabilities (2%). One HBCU even waived the performance requirement for active firefighters.
Trimble and Hensley (1984) noted that 88 percent of their schools accepted substitutions and that the larger the institution the more likely that ROTC participation would be accepted as an alternative to the physical education performance requirement. They found that medical reasons and prior military service were the two most prevalent reasons for being excused from the performance class requirement.
Stier's 1985 study of schools with enrollments under 2,501 revealed intercollegiate athletics (23%), veteran status (16%), and age (11%) were the most prevalent reasons for being excused from the requirement of enrolling in the physical education performance class. Cordts and Shaw (1960) found that substitutions for performance classes included being a veteran (38%), intercollegiate participation (31%), medical reasons (65%), ROTC (13%), band (7%), and age (32%).
In terms of age as a reason for being excused from the performance class requirement, 12.5 percent of the HBCUs excused students from such classes if the students were a specific age or older. Typical ages at which the performance requirement was waived were 23, 25, and 26.
Absences from Class and Proficiency Examinations. Cuts were allowed in performance classes through a policy or practice by 78 percent of the HBCU physical education departments, the same percentage Stier reported 1985. Forty-three percent of the HBCUs required students with excessive absences to drop the class, while in the 1985 Stier study 66 percent of the responding schools had such a requirement.
Of the HBCU departments which allowed a specific number of cuts (prior to requiring students to drop the class), the most common number of allowable absences was three, evident in over half of the departments surveyed. The number of permissible absences before students would fail the course or have a grade affected ranged from two cuts (8% of the schools) to eight (4% of the HBCUs). This compares favorably with the findings in the 1985 study.
Physical education majors were allowed to test out of the general college performance class requirement via various proficiency examinations in only 29 percent of the HBCUs. For nonmajors however, a greater percentage (35%) of physical education departments allowed students to take proficiency examinations to satisfy the general institutional requirements relating to the performance courses. In 1985, Stier found that 54 percent of the responding schools had a policy of allowing nonmajor students to test out of performance classes. A year earlier, Trimble and Hensley (1984) reported that the use of proficiency or competency examinations were used to exempt all students in 41 percent of the schools surveyed, with larger schools offering this option more than smaller colleges and universities. Cordts and Shaw (1960) found that only 20 percent of the colleges and universities surveyed offered proficiency tests for performance classes offered to the general student body.
Knowledge of the current status of performance curricula and the policies, practices, and procedures associated with such programs within HBCUs, in comparison with other populations, should provide a foundation for not only an evaluation of the performance programs, but also should assist in the further development and refinement of such programs and accompanying policies and practices.
Performance classes at HBCUs continue to meet the needs of a significant portion of the undergraduate population. Performance classes also continue to have the support of the students, faculty, and administration as evidenced by the high percentage of institutions which still retained the requirement of at least a one-semester performance course as part of the general education requirement. This is further supported by the fact that the vast majority of the HBCUs counted the grades earned in performance classes in the students' cumulative GPA and towards graduation. Previous studies, over a 25-year period, revealed a trend away from requiring performance classes of the general student body and the inclusion of performance grades in the GPA and for graduation.
The fact that the vast majority of the HBCU classes were recreational or individual-type performance classes (in contrast to competitive team activities) with strong fitness components enhances the long-term benefits for the participants. As long as these performance classes continue to meet the needs of students, as well as the overall mission of the individual institutions, they will be valued and be retained within the HBCU curriculum.
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William F. Stier, Jr. is a professor and coordinator of the Sport Management/Athletic Administration at the State University of New York, College at Brockport, Brockport, NY 14420. Jerome Quarterman is an assistant professor in the Division of Sport Management at Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH 43403. Mark Martin Stier is the area director at Nazareth College, Rochester, NY 14610.…
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Publication information: Article title: The Status of Physical Education Performance Classes within Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Contributors: Stier, William F. - Author, Quarterman, Jerome - Author, Stier, Mark Martin - Author. Journal title: JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance. Volume: 64. Issue: 5 Publication date: May-June 1993. Page number: 87+. © 2009 American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD). COPYRIGHT 1993 Gale Group.
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