"Lifetime Fitness for Health" Course Assessment: Implications for Curriculum Improvement; Lifetime Fitness for Health Courses Can Have a Positive Influence on Students' Physical Activity Attitudes and Behavior
Cardinal, Bradley J., Cardinal, Marita K., Burger, Molly E., JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance
Every other year, comprehensive school health education programs and policies are assessed nationally using the School Health Education Profile (SHEP) survey (Grunbaum et al., 1998). The data are collected in modules that are completed by different stakeholders within the school system (e.g., health and physical education teachers, nurses, principals). As part of a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Adolescent and School Health, Oregon has participated in the SHEP survey since 1996 (Dowler & Ehrlich, 2002). In addition to the questions required by the national report, supplemental questions are allowed at the state level within any given module. These are used to examine emerging trends or specific regional issues. Eleven supplemental questions designed to assess middle and high school level "Lifetime Fitness for Health" (also commonly called "Fitness for Life" or "Personal Fitness") courses were placed in the "Lead Physical Education Specialist Module" of the 2002 Oregon SHEP survey.
The specific aim of the questions was to determine the availability of such courses in Oregon, as well as to describe the breadth of material covered in these courses. The need for and importance of Lifetime Fitness for Health courses was regarded as an emerging trend since seven states and the Department of Defense Dependent Schools mandate such courses at the high school level (Masurier & Corbin, 2002), and the topics typically covered in these courses are included in national and state physical education content standards (National Association for Sport and Physical Education, 2004; Oregon Department of Education, 2001).
Oregon is believed to be the first state to assess its middle and high school level Lifetime Fitness for Health courses within the SHEP survey. While the results of this study cannot be generalized to other states, this initial report may serve to stimulate similar research elsewhere. Also, as will be seen, the results, coupled with the findings of other studies, generated some curriculum and instruction issues that are important for physical educators beyond the state of Oregon to consider. It is hoped that this research will create a national dialogue regarding the importance of Lifetime Fitness for Health courses in the physical education curriculum, the developmental scope and sequence of content covered in these courses, and the need for a greater sharing of appropriate teaching practices regarding the instruction of these courses both within and across grade levels.
The SHEP surveys were distributed to a representative sample of 365 randomly selected middle and high schools throughout the state of Oregon in the spring of 2002. Data collection was coordinated and conducted through the Oregon Department of Education in cooperation with the Oregon Department of Human Services. The person most knowledgeable about the physical education program at each school was requested to complete the Lead Physical Education Specialist Module--Lifetime Fitness for Health Supplement. Because the supplemental questions were included as part of the original survey, their stylistic quality and response format had to resemble that of the overall questionnaire. This meant response options were limited to simple frequency counts.
Lifetime Fitness for Health courses were described on the survey instrument as primarily lecture-lab or classroom-based courses focused on wellness-related topics. The study was approved by the Institutional Review Board of Oregon State University, and participation was confidential and voluntary. Follow-up telephone calls and written reminders were used to encourage survey completion. In total, 129 people responded on behalf of their respective schools to the questions included in the Lifetime Fitness for Health Supplement (35.3% response rate). While less than ideal, it is interesting to note that this is virtually identical to the 35 percent response rate observed in a recently completed study of physical education teachers' ratings of Texas' required "Foundations of Personal Fitness" course (Wilking & Corbin, 2002). …