Implementing quality physical education in a southern school district
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Physical inactivity and the consumption of a high-calorie diet are largely responsible for an increased obesity in children across the United States (US). Specifically, physical inactivity has been associated with the development of numerous diseases (high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes) as well as psychological distress. Additionally, there are ethnic disparities, as 43% of Hispanic children are obese or overweight (Ogden, Carroll, Curtin, Lamb, & Flegal, 2010). The region where the study takes place is made up of primarily low-income families and is dominated by the Mexican culture. The economic situation in the region contributes to an absence of health insurance and children in the area are unlikely to receive needed medical care including preventive care (Condon, Pauli, Price, Fry, Kaigh, & Daugh, 1997; Hoffman, 2008). This region of the country has not necessarily been ignored, instead the situation is one where costly interventions were largely ineffective and have thus been replaced with mitigation as the best means for managing health (Blair & Connelly, 1996; Hatziandreu, Koplan, Weinstein, Caspersen, & Warner, 1988). Therefore, this dissertation was comprised of a series of three research studies that begins by examining the curriculum development process utilizing the ontological foundations of constructive realism (Cupchik, 2001). Study two investigated physical education teacher attitudes and the feasibility of using e-Learning modules as a professional development tool. The series of studies concludes with an examination of the reformed curricular effects on pre-adolescent learning outcomes grounded in social cognitive theory; knowledge, self-efficacy, and physical activity (Bandura, 1977; Bandura, 1986). Taken together the results of this research series suggest there are key steps when implementing physical education curriculum in schools. It is anticipated that findings will make substantive contributions to the empirical literature concerning the beneficial effects of physical education implementation. Given the magnitude of physical inactivity and the epidemic proportions of childhood obesity, this research is timely and warranted.