Academic journal article College Student Journal

Conceptual Physical Education Course and College Freshmen's Physical Activity Patterns

Academic journal article College Student Journal

Conceptual Physical Education Course and College Freshmen's Physical Activity Patterns

Article excerpt

Conceptual physical education (CPE) courses play a critical role in promoting physical activity (PA) among students in American higher education settings. To date, however, very limited knowledge is available about the effectiveness of such courses. Aims: The primary purpose of the study was to examine effects of a CPE course on altering freshmen PA levels. The secondary objective was to test PA change differences in gender and major. Ninety-two freshmen from a large state university participated in the study. Daily steps and moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) minutes were measured by accelerometers and were used to estimate freshmen's PA changes. Repeated measure MANOVA was conducted to analyze the PA differences in gender and major. The results revealed that students significantly reduced their PA levels from the pre-test to the post-test. The decline from the mid-test to the post-test, however, was not significant. Significant gender effect was also found. The CPE course helped freshmen slow down the PA decrease, even though the course did not significantly increase the students' PA. Such a course and had more positive effects on female student's PA than their male counterparts. Conclusion: The current study confirmed previously reported trend of PA decrease among freshmen. However, enrolling in a CPE might help minimize the decrease by allocating time within lab sections for PA and encouraging participation outside class, especially during the weekend when students tend to be more sedentary.

Keywords: higher education, effectiveness, conceptual physical education, physical activity, college student


College freshmen are a special group of young adults who have demonstrated a high risk for poor health without timely implemented interventions (Anderson, Shapiro, & Lundgren, 2003; Wengreen & Moncur, 2009). Many freshmen adopted unhealthy behaviors such as insufficient amounts of sleep and physical inactivity due to stressful academic life (McArthur & Raedeke, 2009; Racette, Deusinger, Strube, Highstein, & Deusinger, 2005). The American College Health Association (ACHA) has been actively promoting a healthy campus for more than two decades (ACHA, 2012), and various PA interventions have been reported (Sailors et al., 2010).

In higher education, conceptual physical education (CPE) has been utilized to teach students the essential knowledge and skills to adopt a healthy life style (Corbin & Cardinal, 2008; Keating et al., 2012). A typical CPE course consists of lectures and PA labs (Keating et al., 2012; Kulinna, Warfield, Jonaitis, Dean, & Corbin, 2009), with a few being taught online (Ransdell, Rice, Snelson, & DeCola, 2008). The PA labs provide students with various PA opportunities (Corbin & Cardinal, 2008; Sallis et al., 1999). Moreover, assignments such as students PA logs, goal setting, and fitness assessment are usually integrated in CPE (Keating et al., 2012; Kulinna et al., 2009; Strand, Egeberg, & Mozumdar, 2010).

Although CPE courses have been offered in higher education for more than three decades, it is important to point out that only a handful of research have examined the short-and long-term effects of CPE courses in higher education (e.g., Adams & Bryntson, 1993, 1995; Adams, Graves, & Adams, 2006; Boyle, Mattern, Lassiter, & Ritzier, 2011 ; Claxton & Wells, 2009; Slava, Laurie, & Corbin, 1984; Wadsworth & Hallam, 2010). Increased PA levels were found after the interventions with the effects fading at the 6th month after the completion of the intervention (Wadsworth & Hallam, 2010). Furthermore, CPE courses were particularly effective on female students (Boyle et al., 2011 ; Cardinal, Jacques & Levy, 2002; Claxton & Wells, 2009; Sallis et al., 1999; Wadsworth & Hallam, 2010).

In order to fully understand previous research on the topic, it is deemed necessary to note PA variables reported in the literature. …

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