Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

Implementation Fidelity of a Program Designed to Promote Personal and Social Responsibility through Physical Education: A Comparative Case Study

Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

Implementation Fidelity of a Program Designed to Promote Personal and Social Responsibility through Physical Education: A Comparative Case Study

Article excerpt

The purpose of this qualitative comparative case study was to examine the implementation fidelity of a program designed to deliver the Teaching Personal and Social Responsibility (TPSR) model (Hellison, 2003) through physical education and its relationship with short-term outcomes for elementary school students. The research questions were: (a) was the program implemented with fidelity, and (b) did better fidelity yield better student outcomes. Thus, we conducted a study on the implementation process used by two teachers who delivered the same program in two physical education classes in two different elementary schools in Spain. Data sources included observations and interviews with teachers and nonparticipant observers. Findings indicated that fidelity of implementation in Case I was higher and most children in those classes acquired the first three of five TPSR responsibility levels. Implementation fidelity in Case 2 was weaker and achievement of responsibility goals was minimal (only the first of five levels) and less stable for those students. This study is the first to directly examine the connection between TPSR implementation fidelity and student outcomes.

Key words: fidelity, psychosocial development, qualitative research


Due to growing concern about observed behaviors in children and young people related to violence, intolerance, addictions, apathy, physical inactivity, obesity, etc., the number of programs designed to promote psychosocial development in childhood and adolescence through physical activity and sports has grown in the last

decade (Collingwood, 1997; Cutforth & Puckett, 1999; Danish, Forneris, & Wallace, 2005; Ennis, 1999; Hellison & Wright, 2003; Martinek & Hellison, 1997; Sandford, Armour, & Warminghton, 2006; Schilling, 2001; Wright & Burton, 2008). Although the general purpose of these programs was to help youngsters become "healthy, happy, and competent adolescents on their way to productive and satisfying adulthoods" (Roth & Brooks-Gunn, 2003, p. 95; see also Pittman, Irby, & Ferber, 2000), individual programs attempted to accomplish this in other ways depending on the needs of the children or adolescents the program served. Thus, there was also a need to evaluate the efficacy of these programs (Wright, 2009). Within this framework, in the present study we evaluated the implementation fidelity of a program for developing personal and social responsibility through physical activity and sports. The program, an adaptation of the Teaching Personal and Social Responsibility (TPSR) model developed by Hellison (2003), was delivered to elementary school children through physical education in the Spanish context. By program fidelity, we refer to "the degree to which a program is implemented as intended by the program developers" (Sanchez et al., 2007, p. 96).

The study of implementation has become an essential element of program evaluation (Battistich, Schaps, Watson, & Solomon, 1996; Battistich, Schaps, & Wilson, 2004; Catalano, Berglund, Ryan, Lonczak, & Hawkins, 2004; Pentz, et al., 1990; Petitpas, Cornelius, Van Raalte, & Jones, 2005). Petitpas et al. and Patton (2002) suggested the first step in a program evaluation should be to examine its implementation. Thus, implementation has become an indicator of quality and rigor in program evaluation studies. For example, in a review of programs for positive youth development, Catalano et al. found that 96% of the programs deemed effective had conducted evaluations dealing with the quality and coherence of implementation. Knowledge about implementation is necessary to address issues of internal and external validity in program evaluation studies (Sanchez et al., 2007), because, as Durlack stated (1998, p. 6), "We cannot make confident connections between programs and outcomes (internal validity), expect to replicate interventions in other settings (external validity), or determine how or why a program works (construct validity) without knowing how well the proposed program was actually conducted. …

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