The Effects of Class Size in Elementary Physical Education: An Examination of Student Activity Levels, Class Management Time, and Teacher Attitudes
Type of Degreedissertation
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Through the years, research has been conducted on the effects of class size on classroom instruction, with most states passing legislation to control the size of elementary classroom student-teacher ratios. However, little research has been conducted on the effects of elementary physical education class size and student-teacher ratios. This research examined the effects of class size on student activity levels, class management time, and teacher attitudes toward teaching large class sizes in elementary physical education. The purposes of this study were to examine the effects of class size in elementary physical education by: (1) examining the demographics of elementary physical education classes within the state of Alabama, (2) examining student activity levels in large and small classes, (3) examining the amount of class management time that a larger class size demands on the physical education specialist during lessons, and (4) examining teacher attitudes concerning various aspects of teaching in larger class settings. Three different studies were conducted as a part of this research. In Study I; 132 elementary physical education specialists within the State of Alabama completed survey forms concerning the demographics of their teaching environment. In Study II; eight physical education specialists who teach elementary physical education in the river region of central Alabama taught a soccer lesson to primary-aged elementary students, once to a class of eighteen (18) students and once to a class of thirty-six (36) students. The System for Observing Fitness Instruction Time (SOFIT) was used to gather data concerning the amount of time students were engaged in moderate to vigorous physical activity and the amount of time the physical education specialists spend in class management context. In Study III eight physical education specialists who teach in the river region of central Alabama were interviewed concerning various teaching conditions associated with large class settings. Study I results reveal that physical education specialists around the State of Alabama are teaching in student-teacher ratios far greater than regular education classroom teachers. Study II results confirm that students engage in less moderate to vigorous physical activity and the specialists spend more time in class management context in larger class settings that in smaller ones. Study III reveals that, in spite of teaching in large class settings that limit their ability to teach individualized daily quality physical education, physical education specialists persevere in large class settings because of their love of teaching and the desire to change the lives of the students in their charge.