Strategies for Teaching Healthy Behavior Conceptual Knowledge

By Kloeppel, Tiffany; Kulinna, Pamela Hodges | Strategies: A Journal for Physical and Sport Educators, September-October 2012 | Go to article overview

Strategies for Teaching Healthy Behavior Conceptual Knowledge


Kloeppel, Tiffany, Kulinna, Pamela Hodges, Strategies: A Journal for Physical and Sport Educators


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By definition, conceptual knowledge is rich in relationships and understanding the kind of knowledge that may be transferred between situations. Conceptual knowledge cannot be learned by memorization; it must be learned by thoughtful, reflective learning (Mayer, 2008). Along those same lines, Conceptual Physical Education in the K-12 setting is an underused avenue for combating obesity issues across the nation (Cone, 2004). Despite the lack of importance that Conceptual Physical Education has been given in previous physical education reform efforts, research findings have shown that Conceptual Physical Education along with health-related fitness knowledge could positively affect the physical activity levels of children (Keating, Harrison, Xiang, Lambdin, Dauenhauer, Rotich, & Pinero, 2009).

Conceptual Physical Education focusing on health-related fitness (HRF) used in this article is defined as the knowledge an individual has to maintain and improve current health conditions (Keating et al., 2009). The five components of HRF include: 1) muscular strength, 2) muscular endurance, 3) cardiovascular endurance, 4) flexibility, and 5) body composition. The lack of HRF knowledge by the "average" person has been mentioned as one of the factors influencing the current obesity epidemic (Dale, Corbin, & Cuddihy, 1998). HRF knowledge alone may not be enough to change a person's behavior, but combined with physical activity participation, behavior management, and motor skill proficiency it may result in increased physical activity patterns and physical fitness (Keating, 2003).

There is little doubt that HRF knowledge has made an impact on the fitness industry (Corbin & Cardinal, 2008). However, strategies for teaching HRF knowledge in K-12 physical education programs still needs further development and study. Many investigations in physical education have reported that students had either incomplete HRF knowledge or held misconceptions regarding HRF content, for example studies equating skinny with being healthy (Placek, Griffin, Dodds, Raymond, Tremino, & James, 2001). Therefore, the purpose of this article is to provide teachers with the following six ways for teaching and holding students accountable for HRF knowledge in K-12 physical education programs: 1) a conceptual physical education curricular model, 2) health-related fitness assessments, 3) homework assignments, d) Healthy and Active School Model, e) interdisciplinary teaching, and f) physical activity monitoring.

Conceptual Physical Education

The first strategy for teaching HRF is to use a conceptual physical education curricular model such as Physical Best (NASPE, 2005a) or Fitness for Life (Corbin & Cardinal, 2008). The Physical Best conceptual framework is a comprehensive health-related fitness education program that provides a series of activities and conceptual information, critical for a quality physical education program. Physical Best provides students with the rationale for participating in physical activity and learning HRF (NASPE, 2005a, 2005b). This framework also emphasizes participation in a wide variety of enjoyable physical activities (e.g., traditional sports, non-traditional sports, and fitness activities) and can be combined with other physical education curricular models. It promotes individual choices for students and makes connections between physical education classes and opportunities to remain active for lifelong healthy behaviors. See Table 1.

Fitness for Life is a comprehensive K-12 program designed to help students take responsibility for their own physical activity, fitness, and health, in order to help them adopt lifelong healthy behaviors. This program is based on NASPE's National Standards for Physical Education

(NASPE, 2004) and has been carefully articulated following a pedagogically sound scope and sequence to enhance student's learning of skills and content knowledge (Corbin & Cardinal, 2008). …

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