Date of Award

8-9-2014

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

Physical Education

First Advisor

Lynda Nilges-Charles

Abstract

Standard 2 of the National Initial Physical Education Teacher Education Standards indicates physical education teacher candidates are physically educated individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary to demonstrate competent movement performance and health enhancing fitness (NASPE, 2008). Many PETE programs seek to develop candidates’ content knowledge through various physical activity courses. However, limited empirical evidence exists that links activity courses to the development of content knowledge in the form of motor skill proficiency or fitness outcomes. This study examined the impact of an educational gymnastics course on PETE students’ motor skill proficiency and health-related fitness. A mixed method, pre-post no control group design was used. Participants (N = 22) included PETE students enrolled in a 16-week educational gymnastics course. Data were collected from three primary sources including, 1) four individual skills tests and the South Carolina Physical Education Assessment Program elementary school educational gymnastics assessments for combining and sequencing skills, 2) the FITNESSGRAM test battery, and 3) a survey (with a Likert scale and open ended questions) that assessed perceptions related to the qualities of a good instructor of educational gymnastics and comfort level for teaching and performing educational gymnastics. The International Physical Activity Questionnaire served as a secondary data source. Pre-test and post-test scores on motor skills assessments were analyzed in separate related-samples Wilcoxon signed rank nonparametric tests to determine if there was any improvement in educational gymnastics skills. The pre-test and post-test scores on each item of the FITNESSGRAM fitness test battery were analyzed using separate, repeated measures within-subjects analysis of variance (ANOVA) tests to determine if there were any improvements in fitness. A Spearman’s rho correlation coefficient was used to analyze whether any relationships existed between motor skill level and fitness. Responses to the two Likert Scale survey questions were analyzed using separate, repeated measures ANOVA tests to determine if there were any changes in comfort levels with teaching and performing educational gymnastics. The open-ended survey data were analyzed qualitatively using constant comparison. Findings indicate that motor skill proficiency improved significantly on all educational gymnastics tasks from pre-test to post-test. Scores improved on the Curl-Up and Body Composition tests from pre-test to post-test. Scores on the 90° Push-Up and Back-Saver Sit and Reach tests improved, although not significantly. Scores on the PACER test decreased significantly from pre-test to post-test. Primary findings suggest 1) an educational gymnastic course can improve the content knowledge/motor skill proficiency of PETE students, 2) a relationship may exist between certain fitness indicators and motor skill level across the stages of content development in educational gymnastics and 3) comfort level for both teaching and performing educational gymnastics can be significantly impacted by an educational gymnastics course. The results of this study may be used by PETE programs to make decisions regarding the inclusion of an educational gymnastics course in their programs as such a course may help assure that teacher candidates are physically educated individuals who are able to demonstrate competent movement performance and health enhancing fitness (NASPE, 2008).

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