Date of Award

Summer 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)


Human Movement Sciences

Committee Director

Xihe Zhu (Director)

Committee Member

Peter Baker

Committee Member

Justin Haegele


The purpose of this study was to examine the factors influencing high school students’ enrollment in elective physical education (PE). Three groups of students emerged based on enrollment choice: those enrolling in elective PE (CPE, 26%), those not enrolling (NPE, 38%), and those who were uncertain about their enrollment in elective PE (UPE, 36%). Participants (n=69) completed the Expectancy-Value and Sport Motivation questionnaires to measure their motivation in PE, and a subsection of students (n=47) wore accelerometers for approximately four days to measure their habitual weekday physical activity (PA). Qualitative data were collected using open-ended questions and semi-structured focus group interviews, then analyzed using open and selective coding. The motivational surveys and PA data were summarized and analyzed quantitatively using descriptive and inferential statistics. Significant differences were seen in expectancy beliefs (ηp 2=.19) and extrinsic motivation (ηp 2=.10, p=.04) between the students in the CPE and NPE groups; as well as significant differences (p<.01) in step count (ηp 2=.33), moderate to vigorous PA (ηp 2=.39), and energy expenditure (ηp 2=.31), between the CPE and NPE groups, and between the CPE and UPE groups. Students reported what they disliked about their current PE in open-ended questions; across all three enrollment groups, 61.33% of participants expressed negative feelings toward iv curriculum content. Specific factors that influenced students’ enrollment choice were revealed during interviews. Students in the CPE group were motivated by enjoyment, being active during the day, and a less stressful environment in PE. Students in the NPE group reported they did not have room in their course schedules, or felt that PE was not a necessity. Those in the UPE group also reported scheduling issues, in addition to the physical discomfort of being sweaty all day if the elective PE course was in the morning. The results suggested that the CPE group had significantly higher weekday PA and enjoyed PE more than other groups. To make elective PE more desirable for students, future PE courses should offer advanced PE topics, include less fitness testing, incorporate more common sports, and allow elective PE courses to count towards credits for graduation.


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