Correlations between Teacher Behaviors and Student Evaluations in High School Physical Education

By Engstrom, Del | Physical Educator, Winter 2000 | Go to article overview
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Correlations between Teacher Behaviors and Student Evaluations in High School Physical Education

Engstrom, Del, Physical Educator


Student evaluations have been used at the college or university level for over 75 years but have largely been ignored at the secondary level of instruction. The purpose of this investigation was to examine the correlations between teacher behaviors and student evaluations in a secondary school physical education environment. In addition, the investigation analyzed student level of interest and involvement in physical education classes. Twenty-nine separate physical education classes were observed using the Physical Education Teacher Assessment Instrument (PETAI). The observations occurred in seven different school districts and involved 588 students. At the conclusion of a lesson, students were asked to complete a High School Physical Education Student Response Sheet (HSPESRS). Pearson correlations were computed and correlation coefficients were analyzed to determine if any significant relationships were associated with teacher behaviors and student evaluations. Findings suggested that while the use of student evaluations may not be warranted at the secondary level, positive correlations between overall teacher evaluations and student interest in an activity and a student's level of involvement indicate high school students should be afforded the opportunity to have a voice in curriculum design.

Siedentop (1993) articulated a paradigm that has important implications for the future of physical education within our secondary educational curricula.

   What is most disturbing is that at a moment in American culture when sport,
   fitness, and physically active leisure experiences are increasingly valued,
   school physical education is so often devalued, generally lacking in
   credibility within the secondary school culture, and too often ridiculed by
   those outside of the school (p. 7).

Tinning and Fitzclarence (1992) described a similar situation that has plagued Australian secondary school physical education programs, "A contradictory, and ironic, aspect of the crisis is that many of the adolescents bored with school physical education see physical activity as significant to their lifestyles outside of the school context" (p. 287). Scantling, Strand, Lackey and McAleese (1995) reported that students maintained a positive attitude toward physical education but elected not to enroll in physical education classes because of curricula pressures to meet college entrance requirements.

While many educators have argued for vigorous new marketing strategies, Siedentop (1993) emphasized the need to reestablish programs that are valued by the very "consumers" within our schools, the students themselves. Students should be provided the opportunity to have input into the type of physical education available for them in the schools. According to Wagennar (1995), "students are best at detecting consumers' perspectives on those teaching behaviors most noticeable to students" (p.68).

Harrison, Blakemore, Buck, and Peliett (1996) identified the use of informal analysis as a possible strategy whereby students would be able to provide teachers with individual perceptions relative to behaviors within the classroom. Harrison et al. (1996) stated,

   Informal analysis can be especially helpful in determining how students
   feel about what they have learned and their perceptions about the learning
   situation. The most effective informal analysis by students is written, not
   oral, and is anonymous to allow for free and honest responses (p. 458).

Despite these admonitions, Tuckman (1995) further reported that student evaluations have largely been relegated to the college level, "At the high school and junior high levels, student input has rarely been sought" (p. 184). Strand and Scantling (1994) stated, "'For students to believe they have input into what happens in schools, teachers must consider student preferences and implement them as deemed feasible" (p.

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