Activity Levels in Coeducational or Single-Sex Physical Education Classes

By Ward, Stefan | JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, May-June 2005 | Go to article overview

Activity Levels in Coeducational or Single-Sex Physical Education Classes


Ward, Stefan, JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance


McKenzie, Prochaska, Sallis, and LaMaster (2004) used middle school physical education programs to compare physical activity levels and lesson contexts in single-sex and coeducational physical education classes. They assessed the mediating effects of lesson contexts on the differences in student activity levels by gender. This two-and-a-half year study took place in nine California middle schools that offered both single-gender and coeducational physical education classes. Four of these schools were used as control sites during this time. The sample included 298 lessons taught by physical education specialists: 32 girls-only classes, 26 boys-only classes, and 240 coeducational classes. The average class length was 50 minutes.

Highly trained and certified assessors observed and assessed activity levels using the System for Observing Fitness Instruction Time, a validated system with codes that have been calibrated through the use of heart rate monitors. Assessors rated four randomly selected students per lesson and coded them at 10-second intervals using five levels of activity (lying down, sitting, standing, walking, and moderate to vigorous physical activity [MVPA]). Lesson context, defined as how the educators delivered the content, was categorized simultaneously with activity levels. Lesson time was also measured to see how much was spent in each of the following contexts: management, knowledge, physical fitness, skill drills, and game play.

Data analyses were performed in three ways. First, differences in physical activity levels by class gender were calculated using a mixed linear model to test the direct effects of class gender composition on student activity levels. Next, similar models were run to inspect differences in class contexts by class gender. Finally, the authors examined the effects of how the mediator variable (class gender composition) influenced the level of physical activity. The results of the study showed that boys-only (M = 19.2 minutes) and coeducational classes (M = 17.6 minutes) had more MVPA than girls-only classes (M = 13.4 minutes). Boys had similar MVPA scores in both boys-only and coeducational classes, whereas girls had more MVPA in coeducational classes. Time spent on management, knowledge, and fitness activities was similar for all boys-only, girls-only, and coeducational classes. …

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