Synthesis- Physical Education in Schools

Posted: April 15, 2013 in Uncategorized

Over the past module, I have been predominately discussing how physical education affects children in schools and their attitudes towards participation. The reason why I chose this topic was due to my interest in sport, and the role I have in coaching children in tennis, thus, thought it would be perfect to further my learning constructively.


During my first two blogs, I chose two different fields, one addressing why Welsh schools are failing and the interventions they are currently changing in order to strengthen educational practice including the “Every child matters” initiative. My second blog was conducted upon the relation of music and intelligence, finding research by Rauscher (1993) which showed no “Mozart effect”, thus no relation between intelligence and music, with other research also showing the same (Schellenberg, 2004; Norton, 1979) My third blog however “Game playing can develop a positive attitude towards mathematics for children” was a good base to start from. Following research by Akinsola et al (2007) showing how gaming improved mathematic learning in secondary school children, and Bragg’s (2003) qualitative study into emotion and motivation of game playing within the classroom had me thinking, if this happens within games, can the same effect happen in sports?



During week 4, my general topic had been chosen in the field of Physical education in schools. During this blog, I found it difficult finding psychology research into this field with many limited resources available, which was surprising for such a broad topic. However, splitting the topic into sub-topics made literature easier to find and extract.

The first topic was Girls in PE. This topic was appealing as Tennis Wales had only recently set up a plan to address why girls were dropping out of sport at an accelerated rate tin comparison to boys, prompting me to delve further and find answers and possibly solutions for my future teachings. The key points from this were

1. Girls prefer a more social and less competitive atmosphere in the Physical Education classroom

2. Teachers and the curriculum are main contributors to girls not participating in physical education classes with no variation in content

3. There is no nationally set curriculum by the government which is problematic and causes biases and scrutiny in classes

Girls prefer a more sociable physical and fun unstructured activities thus showing with the current teaching regime, violations would occur and consistently cause female’s to drop out of Sport (Sinclair and Luke,1991) this shows why the 5x 60 (Leyshon, 2009) program has been so successful in secondary schools.


Following on from this research, Achivement and Sport was the next area I would delve into. Low motivated students correlated with less participation, less chance of achievement in sport and education and their self perception (Skaalvik, 1997) therefore showing sport’s importance within societies. College student however have a biased self perception of themselves and actual ability causing them to prioritise sports rather than academic learning, due to their expectance of receiving a college scholarship (Fisher, 1996), however additional research was found to disprove this although social economic factors did significantly contribute to achievement (Yiannkis et al, 2001) although the research could only be generalised to the US, due to so much money being invested into sport. Role theory can be administered due to this assumptions in sport, explaining why students engage more in sports rather than academics and vice versa (Adler and Adler, 1991). This is due to stereotyping and causes role engulfment and role abandonment, thus causing students to subsequently disengage from required physical activity or prioritise it instead of a balance between sports and academic work.

This is a video of Stephen Fry’s Only In America which gives you a taste of how huge sport is across the pond

 Following on from the two previous topics, I addressed “The role of the Teacher on PE lessons” as it was a contributing factor for girls’ participation (Sinclair and Luke, 1991) and the academic success of students (Fisher, 1996). Through researching into this, schools were failing to conduct basic physical activity lessons, key for psychological and physical development in children. SPARK (Sallis et al, 1997) was a tool used in order to promote physical activity and improve physical strength, significantly in girls, causing them to fully engage. This research therefore generalises physical activity, into a social, unstructured and friendly environment causing both male and females to reap physical benefits. Competent teaching was another model I delved into which research showed that teachers had no effect on the well-being of a student, but the curricula. The only aspects the students reaped benefits from competent teaching was from motor control and motivational gains (Starc and Strel, 2010) thus stressing the importance of a good PE curricula for our students.




Following researching into topic, surprisingly I think I have uncovered some serious issues which need to be addressed. This includes the curricula implemented by the government, it is not being generalised enough to accommodate enough people, especially girls as figures show confirm (Sinclair and Luke, 1991). Adaptations and interventions therefore must be made as we can see that there are answers (SPARK, Competent teaching) to stop such attitudes occurring. The PE lessons should also be much more female friendly, otherwise if they only experience competition, they will not want to participate (A big problem in tennis). Finally, a sport does have an influence on social, psychological wellbeing and motivation, increasing achievement; although economic status contributes highly to this.
















I must say to conclude, that through researching into my topics, I have learnt a lot more than if I did through a structured curriculum. The fact that I have chosen a topic which no other person has chosen to discuss, and explain this topic to you all through means of a blog has meant I have had a lot of flexibility, but also I have been able to learn topics from the remainder of you which I would never have thought to delve into. Thank you for a wonderful 3 years guys!


  1. psud0a says:


    Adler, P. A., & Adler, E (1991). Backboards and blackboards: College athletes and role engulfment. New York: Columbia University Press.
    Akinsola M. K., Animasahun I. A. (2007). The effect of simulation-games environment on students achievement in and attitudes to mathematics in secondary schools. Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology. Retrieved from :
    Bragg, L. (2003) Childrens Perspectives on Mathematics and Game Playing. Deakin University. Retrieved from
    Fisher, M., Juszczak, L., & Friedman, S.B. (1996). Sports participation in an urban high school: Academic and psychologic correlates. Journal of Adolescent Health, 18(5), 329-34.
    Leyshon., A. S. (2009) Physical activity, Extracurricular Sport and the 5×60 initiative: Leisure Lifestyles and Young People in Wales, 2007-2009. Retrieved from:
    Luke, M. D. & Sinclair, G. D. (1991) Gender differences in adolescents’ attitudes toward physical education, Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 11. 31-46.
    Norton. D. (1979). Relationship of Music Ability and Intelligence to Auditory and Visual Conservation of the Kindergarten Child. Journal of Research in Music Education. 27 (1), 3-13.
    Rauscher, Frances H.; Shaw, Gordon L.; Ky, Catherine N. (1993). Music and spatial task performance. Nature. 365 (6447): 611
    Sallis, J. F., McKenzie, T. L., Alcaraz, J. E., Kolody, B., Faucette, N., & Hovell, M. F. (1997). The effects of a 2-year physical education program (SPARK) on physical activity and fitness in elementary school students. Sports, Play and Active Recreation for Kids. American Journal of Public Health, 87(8), 1328-1334

    Schellenberg. (2004). Music lessons Enhance IQ. Psychological Science. 15 (8), 511-514.

    Skaalvik, E. (1997) Self-enhancing and self-defeating ego orientation: Relations with task and avoidance orientation, achievement, self-perceptions, and anxiety.. Journal of Educational Psychology, 89 (1), p.71-81.


    Yiannakis, A., & Melnick, M. (2001). Contemporary issues in sociology of sport. NewYork: Human Kinetics.

  2. I think if you look at the obesity stats not only in children, but in adults, sport in schools is becoming not only advisable, but necessary. This is why I think that this topic is very interesting. Improving physical education to incorporate everyone will very important implications. For example Bailey et al (2009) found that physical activity can improve arousal and concentration. This means that through physical education, a child’s all round education can benefit as they will be able to work harder and become more engaged. It also appears that children can learn valuable life skills from doing sport in schools, as shown by Holt et al (2008). They can learn initiative, respect and teamwork/leadership. It is also emphasised that these things are not specifically taught, yet they are still learnt. Importantly, it was noted that they produce their own experiences that support development in these areas. Curtis et al (1999) also found that people who engaged with sport in school were more likely to play sport in adulthood. This shows that effective physical education can not only improve a child’s immediate health, but can reach into their education and also later life. This shows that proper physical education and sport is vital.

    Bailey et al (2009)
    Holt et al (2008)
    Curtis et al (1999)

  3. suzzzblog says:

    This topic still intrigues me to be quite honest! As a girl as well, I feel the same as you; that PE needs to be made more female friendly.
    However, the noticeable differences in PE between sexes which you have observed, I have not. Perhaps this is simply the facilities available to us, the areas we were brought up in, etc but in my experience girls are just as competitive as boys in sport, and there is an equal amount of participation as well.
    Focusing on the impact that sport has on education, I think it’s vital. Not only is there an increased social aspect (with team members), but exercise in this way increases endorphins (Harber & Sutton, 1984). Being more sociable and making friends makes an individual happier and therefore academically more productive (Suldo, Riley & Shaffer, 2006), as well as raising self-esteem.
    PE needs to be more female friendly for sure, but the importance of sport in general on academia must also be emphasized.

    – Endorphins and exercise. (Harber & Sutton, 1984).
    – Academic correlates of children and adolescents’ life satisfaction. (Suldo, Riley & Shaffer, 2006).

  4. psuce says:

    Hi, great topic and I’ve really enjoyed reading your blogs over the last couple of weeks on this particular topic. I agree with you that getting children and students involved in exercise is important. A reason for this is due to the fact that research shows that exercise help people in all kinds of way. An example of this is research conducted by Suldo et al (2006) were exercise help individuals in a social way by helping them create friendships and raise self-esteem . By reading this blog I have also been able to researcher how important it is to involve girls in education, how the role of teacher is important to engage student in PE classes and improve students attitudes to increase participation in PE classes.

  5. psub57 says:

    I have been exploring Self-Determination Theory in my blogs, and there are a wealth of studies that apply the use of intrinsic- motivation facilitators to sport. It has been found that low perceived competence can reduce motivation to engage (Ntoumanis, 2010). I cannot speak for all girls, but I know that this hindered me in my own P.E. engagement. It may be that girls feel incompetent in a structure currently suited to boys (I realise this is a wild generalisation but since you present research that they do not engage, I am merely offering one possible explanation). This viewpoint supports your theory that structuring P.E. lessons to fit the wishes of girls would engage them. Because such a change would involve less competition and more focus on the social aspects of physical activity, there would be higher emphasis on the activity itself and actual or perceived ability would be of less importance, taking some of the “pressure” off students to feel competent and allowing them to enjoy the activities in themselves.

    Ntoumanis, N. (2001). Empirical links between achievement goal theory and self-determination theory in sport. Journal of Sports Sciences, 19(6), 397-409.

  6. I know you have mentioned this in your topic blogs but I am going to reiterate purely because it is something I am familiar with and I would like to highlight its importance. The UK, in relation to the US has an extremely poor scheme for encouraging students with sports. Some psychological theories even name sportiness as a type of intelligence “Kinetic Intelligence” (Gardner, 1995). I like you, believe the current system has a huge disregard for those with a sporty nature. If it can be regarded as an intelligence it seems absurd not to pay more attention to P.E as subject in education!

  7. psuc18 says:

    Hi David I have really enjoyed reading your blogs over the last few months. You have raised important and relevant points of the importance of physical exercise on individuals’ education. I completely agree that more should be done in order to involve students and pupils in more physical education. I particularly believe this after reading a research paper by Suldo eto al (2006) who found that exercise was not only beneficial to the physical health of pupils but also helped to improve the social aspects of their lives. Suldo et al (2006) found that pupils who participated in physical activity were more likely to have improved social skills and had greater self-esteem than those who were less active.
    Being a girl myself I have particularly enjoyed reading the points that you have raised regarding the relationship between female pupils and physical activity even though you have by your own admission raised a few rather sexist comments along the way, ha! I believe that it is is definately important to involve girls in physical education especially as I participate in physical activity myself in my own spare time and have personal experience of the benefits that are associated with being active. Furthermore I think it is important that boys and girls are not distinguished in physical activity. For example, football is stereotypically linked to being a boy’s sport whilst netball is thought of as a girl’s sport. I believe that this can lead to sexist discrimination from an early age and children should be able to participate in any sport they wish to compete.

  8. Catherine says:

    I really enjoyed reading your blog as it is so different. The lack of participation from girls in physical and competitive education is a big problem. The girls who genuinely enjoy these activities would then feel the need to drop out because they wouldn’t want to be seen as the only one to enjoy this. Pressure from the community and other girls stereotyping can affect this.

    The Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute (2004) in Canada reported that boys are twice as likely to meet international guidance when regarding physical activity. Similar results were shown by Lasheras et al., (2000) in Spain where all boys of all age groups were more active than girls. This suggests that it is a trend that occurs across the world, not only in the UK.

    Role models seem to be influencing children’s participation with physical activity. Girls have been reporting role models such as family, friends and teachers, whereas boys have been reporting role models such as celebrities and sports stars (Bailey, Wellard & Dismore, Centre for Physical Education and Sport Research). They suggested the lower percentages of girls contributing to physical education were due to a lower number of female sport stars. If this increased would, the numbers of girls increasing also increase? I believe teachers in schools need to emphasise the fact that females are able to participate comfortably in any sport from a young age.

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