Academic journal article VAHPERD Journal

Coeducational versus Single-Sex Physical Education Class: Implication on Females Students Self-Esteem and Participation

Academic journal article VAHPERD Journal

Coeducational versus Single-Sex Physical Education Class: Implication on Females Students Self-Esteem and Participation

Article excerpt

In 1972, Title IX of the Educational Amendments Act was introduced to bring equal opportunities and equality to the educational system of the United States (Treanor, Graber, Housner & Wiegand, 1998). This would bring an end to single sex classes and males and females would be taught together for the first time in physical education. Through this law, every student would now have the right to receive the same kind and type of physical education no matter if they were male or female. Coeducation physical education classes were implemented in an attempt to uphold this new regulation and perhaps with minimal thinking or planning relative to the impact this decision might have on the lives of young, adolescent girls (Derry & Phillips 2004). However, since the introduction of Title IX into the public schools physical education arena, a concern has been voiced regarding what is truly the best learning environment for our students. Is it an environment that is best designed around a coeducational classroom or is it a better and more equal environment in a single sex classroom?

Prior to Title IX it was not uncommon for male students to receive preferential treatment in the physical education classroom and with physical activity (Osborne, Bauer & Sutliff, 2002). This preferential treatment came in the way of better facilities and equipment, often leaving girls with second hand equipment or a practice schedule which worked around male teams practice time. (Osborne, et al., 2002) All of this changed with the passage of Title IX. Female students were finally going to be seen as equals in the very male dominant field of physical education and physical activity. Even though the law now has requirements that females and males have equal opportunities to participate in physical education, we must wonder are we reaching the intended benefits.

Researchers have debated this issue for years, debating both sides to determine what is better for the students. Koca (2009) reported "for example, many researchers have claimed that coed physical education (PE) provides equal opportunities for participation and allows females and males to socially interact." This same argument has been cited by several other researchers, (Colgate, 1999; Davis 1999; Griffin, 1984; Knoppers, 1988). On the other side of the argument, researchers such as Olafson (2002) identified the perceived social interactions in the coed classes are exactly what turns adolescent girls off from participating in the current coed physical education classes.

Researchers interviewed students to try to determine their opinion on which is the better physical education class: either coeducational class or non-coed classes. One such study by Treanor, Graber, Housner and Wiegand (1998) asked students at the end of the year following both coeducational and single classes what they preferred. They found that students tended to favor same sex classes over the coeducational classes. However, the note was made from Treanor, et al. (1998) that their results alone could not conclude that same-sex classes are best for middle school physical education. Reasons given by the students for why they preferred single sex classes included more practice time, better behavior, better competition, and less fear of injury. The results of Treanor, et al. were supported by findings of Lirggs (1994) and Derry (2002). In Lirgg's 10-week basketball study it was documented that both males and female middle school student's preferred same-sex physical education. In Derry's research it was reported an overwhelming 75% of students studied stated they prefer a single-sex class. Also, in Derry's research she found that 84% of girls that were already in single-sex classes said they would want to continue in that same environment over having to participate in coed physical education.

As children age they are developing less into physically active adolescents and more into inactive adolescents. …

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