Classroom physical activity : evaluating elementary teacher preparedness for adoption and implementation
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Despite the known benefits of physical activity in youth, the prevalence of inactivity in children and adolescents has risen over the past two decades, such that only about half currently meet recommended guidelines for physical activity engagement. Schools have been identified as ideal sites in which to intervene on physical activity levels, using a comprehensive plan for providing physical activity opportunities throughout the school day. One strategy within this plan is dedicated classroom physical activity. Although existing evidence supports the feasibility of offering physical activity in the classroom and links classroom physical activity with increased student activity levels and academic achievement, research to foster and facilitate implementation is minimal. As such, the purpose of this dissertation was to (1) ascertain perceptions of elementary classroom teachers about classroom physical activity implementation, (2) design a professional development training for classroom teachers on classroom physical activity, and (3) conduct a pilot evaluation of a professional development training designed to equip classroom teachers to adopt classroom physical activity practices. This project, framed by the health promotion theories of Diffusion of Innovations and Health Belief Model, used a mixed-methods approach to analyze data collected from teachers. Findings indicate that several of the highest rated perceived barriers to classroom physical activity adoption are modifiable factors, and that teacher knowledge of classroom physical activity predicts implementation. The study also provides support for the feasibility of a new professional development training for classroom teachers to promote classroom physical activity and identified teacher preferences for training events. Results further demonstrate that a two-hour professional development can significantly increase teacher knowledge and decrease perceived barriers to classroom physical activity implementation. In addition, there are time-related challenges inherit to classroom physical activity promotion, such as gaining access to classroom teachers to provide training and engaging teachers in research. As a whole, findings from this project can inform future interventions targeting classroom physical activity and provide strategies for increasing the likelihood that classroom physical activity will be offered to students, adding to the body of literature seeking to decrease the prevalence of inactivity in school-aged children.