Pre-service physical education teacher attitudes toward school-based health-related fitness testing and the professional preparation for using fitness tests through physical education teacher education programs
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The primary purpose of this project was to explore pre-service physical education teacher (PPET) attitudes toward health-related fitness testing (HRFT). The secondary purpose was to examine HRFT preparation in physical education teacher education (PETE) programs from faculty members’ perspectives. Three studies were implemented using a parallel mixed-method approach. The first study used a survey research method to investigate American PPETs’ attitudes toward HRFT and the differences in demographic variables. The results from a total of 501 participants indicated slightly positive overall attitudes toward HRFT among American PPETs. Moreover, PPETs’ previous experience with fitness tests had significant effects on all aspects of attitudes. Senior PPETs had significantly higher scores in overall attitudes and belief in the importance of fitness tests than those for sophomore PPETs. Caucasians had a significantly lower score in the enjoyment of fitness tests than Native Americans. No gender difference was found. The second study conducted inter-country comparisons regarding PPET attitudes toward HRFT. The findings from a total of 1267 participants (N Chinese = 766; N American = 501) indicated that Chinese PPETs had more positive overall attitudes than American PPETs. Specifically, Chinese PPETs had higher scores in the cognitive component of attitude but lower scores in the affective component than their American PPETs counterparts. PPETs’ characteristics such as gender, year in university, and previous experience with fitness tests all had significant main effects on attitudes toward HRFT between Chinese and American PPETs. The third study explored PPET preparation for HRFT in PETE programs in the state of Texas, where Fitness testing is mandated by the state law. The perspectives from seven PETE faculty members through in-depth interviews, online surveys, and document analysis emerged in four themes: (a) Required courses are the primary means for preparing PPETs to use HRFT, but barriers (e.g., a lack of time devoted to HRFT content) existed; (b) PETE faculty members modeled the use of HRFT. However, cooperating teachers can negatively influence faculty’s role in HRFT preparation; (c) PPETs explored the use of HRFT in PETE programs through peer teaching and testing activities; and (d) field-based experiences in local schools for HRFT preparation were lacking. The findings of the study provide PETE programs with insights on how to better prepare PPETs for HRFT in the future.