Written critical incidents were collected from students (n = 236) to investigate their perceptions of physical education at the United States Military Academy. Fourteen students were interviewed to provide perceptions beyond the confines of a specific incident. The data were classified into three themes: (a) teacher and teacher behaviors; (b) curriculum, program features, and subject matter; and (c) social interaction and behaviors of students. Within the first theme, encouragement, additional instruction, and demonstrations were the most frequently perceived positive influences. Inappropriate grading, public embarrassment, and adversarial relationships between teachers and students were the most frequently perceived negative influences. The positive influences within the curriculum theme were overcoming fear, relevance, and challenge. The negative influences were unfair grading standards, irrelevant content, and injury. Support and encouragement, acceptance, and effective leadership were the top ranked positive perceptions within the third theme. Poor leadership and lack of sportsmanship were associated with negative perceptions.
J.D. Coelho is with the Department of Physical Education at the United States Military Academy, West Point, NY 10996.