Academic journal article Physical Educator

An Examination of In-Class Physical Activity across Games Classifications

Academic journal article Physical Educator

An Examination of In-Class Physical Activity across Games Classifications

Article excerpt

The public health agenda has focused teachers and policy makers toward meeting physical activity (PA) benchmarks within physical education (PE) classes (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [USDHHS], 2010). Currently, a commonly adopted thresh old is that students should engage in a minimum 50% class time in moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA; USDHHS, 2010). The 50% MVPA criterion is deemed critical toward a student's exercise-related health, but there is the potential issue associated with the achievability when teaching diverse units of study in PE, in particular, when examining the breadth of units taught and the inherent PA opportunities under the concept of school-based sport. Therefore, the aim of this project was to provide initial data focused on students' in-class PA levels (i.e., total and moderate to vigorous) across sport units.

Physical Activity Opportunities and Physical Education

The concept of in-class PA levels has become a popular area of inquiry (USDHHS, 2010). Policy makers have indicated that in a quality PE program, students should be engaged in a minimum of 50% class time in health-enhancing levels of PA (USDHHS, 2010). Currently, much of the research focused within PE and the ability to meet current benchmarks or significantly change in-class PA patterns has dealt with interventions involving prescriptive units of instruction outside sport (Kahn et al., 2002). For instance, units of instruction focused within areas such as fitness/aerobics (Gortmaker et al., 1999; Harrell et al., 1996; Neumark-Sztainer, Story, Hannan, & Rex, 2003), gymnastics (Fairclough & Stratton, 2005), and whole school programs (McKenzie et al., 2004; Pangrazi, Beighle, Vehige, & Vack, 2003; Pate et al., 2005) have been used in interventions. The aforementioned studies have indicated initial results that students can meet PA benchmarks during PE lessons, but there seems to be a lack of research related to the area of sport. Although some researchers in their studies have used sport within their PA interventions, the examination of how diverse games and sports influence in-class PA was not a primary focus.

Teaching Sport and Games Within Physical Education

As teachers design, develop, and implement curricular options, the concept of games and sport continues to be a prevalent choice in school programs. For instance, in secondary PE programs, some form of one or a range of sports within the secondary curriculum is commonly implemented (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, 2010). Although games and sports are a critical aspect of PE, it seems inconceivable that students can engage or experience each and every sport in their school career. As a result of the mismatch between limited class time and the number of sports available to study, one key trend within games and sport-based PE is the classification of games into four categories or classifications: target, net/court, striking and fielding, and invasion (Mitchell, Oslin, & Griffin, 2006). These classifications are based on common underlying game play principles as well as strategy and tactics that are common to the sports in each category (Bunker & Thorpe, 1983) and have been further expanded by authors such as Oslin and Mitchell (2006), Hopper (2003), and Memmert and Harvey (2010).

The classification of games and sports into categories (target, striking/fielding, net/court, and invasion) and the features of each game category have the capacity to provide a conceptualization of students' opportunities to engage in PA. Characteristics of the games and sports in each category provide plausible reasons for the conceptual differences associated with PA opportunities and could be attributed to (a) the intent of games and sports in each category and (b) the governing or primary rules that define the sports within each category (Gréhaigne, Richard, & Griffin, 2005). A description of information on (a) sports, (b) play principles, and (c) conceptualization of PA per games classification is provided in Table 1. …

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