Self-Efficacy Theory and the Theory of Planned Behavior: Teaching Physically Active Physical Education Classes

Article excerpt

The purpose of our investigation was to examine determinants of teachers' intentions to teach physically active physical education classes (i.e., spend at least 50% of class time with the students engaged in moderate to vigorous physical activity). Based on the theory of planned behavior, a model was examined hypothesizing that teachers' intentions were determined by subjective norm, attitude, and perceived behavioral control. Grounded in self-efficacy theory, it was hypothesized that program goal importance and hierarchical and barrier self-efficacy would also predict intention. Using a series of hierarchical regression analyses, the theory of planned behavior was supported by accounting for 59% of the variance in intention due to attitude, perceived behavioral control, and subjective norm. Self-efficacy theory based variables received minimal support.

Key words: children, fitness, health, psychology


Researchers in public health, epidemiology, and physical education have consistently demonstrated the importance of physical activity in promoting fitness and health (Almond & Harris, 1998; Caspersen, 1989; Dishman & Buckworth, 1996; Kujala, Kaprio, Sarna, & Koskenvuo, 1998; Ross & Gilbert, 1985; Sallis et al., 1997). For example, physically active people have a reduced risk of heart disease, live longer, have better quality lives, and are less likely to be depressed (Sallis & Owen, 1999).

Most adults, however, are inactive or irregularly active (U. S. Department of Health and Human Services [USDHHS], 1996). Children and adolescents' physical activity habits are also poor. Many children and adolescents are physically inactive and become even less active as they age (Ross & Gilbert, 1985, USDHHS, 1996). For instance, virtually 50% of all young people do not participate regularly in vigorous activity, and only 41% of fifth- to twelfth-grade students obtain enough vigorous activity to derive cardiovascular benefits (Ross & Gilbert, 1985, USDHHS).

Researchers examining relationships among physical activity, youth fitness, and health have suggested that school physical education may be the only institutional setting providing an opportunity for most children to be consistently physically active (Sallis et al., 1997). For instance, most states have physical education programs requiring student participation (National Association for Sport and Physical Education, 1997), and most children and youth attend school (USDHHS, 1996), although regulations vary according to state (Siedentop, 2001).

Representatives of leading professional health and physical activity organizations have issued numerous position statements emphasizing the importance of providing physical activity in school physical education. The Council on Physical Education for Children stated, "Regular physical education programs (preferably daily) should provide a significant amount of the time in activity necessary to meet the guidelines in this report" (Corbin & Pangrazi, 1998, p. 14). The Healthy People 2010 objectives for school physical education indicate that students should spend 50% of their class time being physically active (USDHHS, 2000). The National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion stated that a substantial portion of children's weekly physical activity should be obtained from physical education classes (USDHHS, 1996). Furthermore, they suggested that physical education teachers should be trained specifically to provide children with moderate to vigorous physical activity during class time. Finally, it has been noted that a comprehensive approach to increasing youth physical activity should have school physical education as a primary component (Sallis et al., 1992).

Investigators have supported the importance of school-based physical education programs in promoting physical activity and health. Sallis and colleagues (1997) reported that a health-based physical education curriculum, implemented by physical education specialists and trained classroom teachers, successfully increased children's physical activity levels. …