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Report on Survey of Physical Education Teachers’ Knowledge, Attitudes and Behaviors Related to Serving as a School Physical Activity Leader – September 2019

In March 2019, Active Schools conducted a Survey of Physical Education Teachers’ Knowledge, Attitudes and Behaviors Related to Serving as a School Physical Activity Leader. The purpose of the survey was to gain knowledge to inform discussion and decisions by the physical education profession, individual professionals, and educational decision-makers (e.g., principals) about the concept of physical education teachers serving as physical activity leaders.

The survey was hosted on the Survey Monkey platform and used convenience sampling. It was promoted through social media and newsletters of many Active Schools partner organizations and other organizations and individuals (e.g., state and district physical education coordinators, physical education teachers, university faculty). There were 1,258 respondents from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. However, in the first question which served as a screener question for eligibility, 123 individuals reported that they were not currently a full-time physical education teacher at one school, so the survey ended for them. As such, 1,027 individuals continued with the survey.

Among the key findings:

  • Only 40% of respondents knew what a comprehensive school physical activity program (CSPAP) is.

  • Based on the definition of a CSPAP provided in the survey, half of respondents (49%) said that their school provides a moderate CSPAP, while 14% said a strong CSPAP and 37% said a minimal CSPAP.

  • Less than half of respondents (43%) knew what a physical activity leader (PAL) is.

  • Based on the definition of a PAL provided in the survey, 64% of respondents said that they currently serve as a PAL for their school, while 26% said they do not and 11% did not know.

  • Based on the definition of a PAL provided in the survey, almost half of respondents (48%) said that they want to serve as a PAL for their school, while 18% said they do not and 34% did not know.

  • When asked about their current level of skill for 12 skills related to providing a CSPAP, for only one skill did at least half of respondents (52%) say they were high in that skill: leadership and vision for your school to implement a CSPAP. A high level of skill for five of the 12 skills was reported by 34-49% of respondents, and a high level of skill for another six skills was reported by one-third or less of respondents (18-33%).

  • When asked about their interest in professional development or training for the same 12 CSPAP skills, there was a range of 25-34% of respondents who were very interested, 39-51% of respondents who were somewhat interested, and 15-26% of respondents who were not very interested. When combining very and somewhat interested, 70% or more of respondents were interested in professional development or training for 11 out of the 12 skills.

These key findings indicate that there is tremendous opportunity for increasing physical education teachers’ knowledge and skills related to serving as a PAL and implementing a CSPAP.

Complete survey results are contained in the Report.

  • Perceived respect for the curricular area of physical education by various stakeholder groups – pp.6-9

  • Perceived respect for the physical education teacher by various stakeholder groups – pp.9-11

  • Involvement in the school and district health/wellness council/committee – pp.12-13

  • Understanding of and involvement in a comprehensive school physical activity program (CSPAP) and physical activity leader (PAL) role – pp.14-16

  • Reasons for wanting and not wanting to serve as a physical activity leader (PAL) – pp.17-19

  • Self-rating of current level of understanding of physical education and physical activity key documents and initiatives – p.19

  • Self-rating of current level of skills that help schools provide a comprehensive school physical activity program (CSPAP) and interest in professional developing or training for each skill – pp.20-21

  • Personal participation in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity; importance of own health, physical activity and well-being; importance of oneself and school staff serving as role models to students for an active and healthy lifestyle – pp.22-23

  • Summary of respondents written comments about the role of a physical education teacher, and/or any teacher or staff member, serving as a school physical activity leader – pp.24-28