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A student's choice : factors to enrollment in elective physical education



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School-based physical education is a critical setting for the promotion of physical activity and health among adolescents. However, enrollment in physical education significantly decreases when physical education becomes an optional subject in grade 11, with only 10% of females and 22% of males choosing to enroll. Limited research has identified individual and social environmental perceived barriers to enrollment in elective physical education. Further, no research has explored perceived individual and social environmental facilitators to electing to enroll in physical education. Thus, the purpose of the study was to identify perceived barriers and facilitators to intention to enroll in elective physical education among a diverse group of female and male adolescents using focus group methodology. Two schools were purposely selected to participate in this study, one with the highest enrollment in grade 11 physical education (57%) and one with the lowest enrollment in grade 11 physical education (33%). By selecting schools with the highest and lowest enrollment, comparisons were made between the perceived barriers and facilitators identified by the participants in a school with high enrollment and a school with low enrollment. However, when participant recruitment occurred, no male students at the high enrollment school indicated they did not intend to enroll in grade 11 physical education. In order to attain sufficient participant recruitment within each required group (i.e., male- no intention group) the school with the second highest enrollment in grade 11 physical education (40%) was included within the study. Grade 10 adolescents (N=63) with either an intention to enroll or no intention to enroll in grade 11 physical education participated in a focus group interview. Focus groups were separated based on gender (female/male) and intention to enroll in grade 11 physical education (intention/no intention). Following the completion of the focus group interviews barriers and facilitators were categorized, using McLeroy’s ecological model, as individual level (e.g., intrapersonal) or social environmental (e.g., interpersonal, institutional, community). Findings revealed several factors that influenced students’ enrollment intention. However, differences were minimal between factors reported by students in the high and low enrollment schools. Differences were more prominent between gender and intention. These differences between females and males and between participants who were intending to enroll and participants who were not intending to enroll had consistent overarching themes. At the individual level (i.e., intrapersonal) four factors were associated with enrollment intention: past experience, self-efficacy, personal choice: scheduling, and knowledge. Several social environmental factors (interpersonal, institutional, and community) were also reported. These included parents, friends, teammates/coaches, teacher, course curriculum, and activity opportunities within the community.



parents, teachers, self-efficacy, curriculum, community, friends, knowledge, past experience, scheduling, ecological model



Master of Science (M.Sc.)


College of Kinesiology


College of Kinesiology


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