Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation


Physical Education

First Advisor

Judith Rink


The goal of this study was to identify elements of the learning environment that students prefer to assist teachers in planning learning experiences that are motivating for their learners. Because some students may need additional motivation to participate in physical education the purpose of this study was to examine 4th grade student's situational interest in physical education and their contextual variable preference (teaching style, learner organization, and practice condition) in three educational gymnastics tasks. Additionally, gender, school, and perceived competence were examined to determine their effects on situational interest and contextual variable preference. Physical activity preference and educational gymnastics liking were investigated to determine individual interests.

Fourth grade students from 7 elementary schools participated in this study. All participants completed two data collection instruments: 1) the 18-item Situational Interest Survey-Elementary School (SIS-EL); and 2) the Student Response Sheet (SRS), which participants completed while watching short educational gymnastics video vignettes.

Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, chi-square (χ2) analysis, and analysis of variance (ANOVA).

Results indicated the following: 1) participants preferred indirect instruction and working with a partner to direct instruction and working alone; females had a significant preference for indirect instruction and partner work; there was not a strong preference for practice condition; 2) participants had moderately high levels of situational interest in their physical education classes; males had significantly higher situational interest scores than females; 3) participants had high levels of perceived competence for all of the contextual variables; 4) males and females liked educational gymnastics; females had higher liking scores; and 5) males preferred team activities and females preferred creative/rhythmic activities.

This study aimed to identify learning context characteristics students prefer. In doing so, physical education teachers may begin to motivate the unmotivated and produce lifelong physical activity participants.


© 2010, Rachel Lynn Harvey