Boys’ Participation Styles in a Middle School Physical Education Team Sports Unit

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Patricia S. Griffin University of Massachusetts

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The purpose of this study was to identify boys’ participation styles in a middle-school physical education team sports unit. Through the use of class observations, formal interviews, and informal discussions with the teachers, five styles of participation were identified: (a) machos, (b) junior machos, (c) nice guys, (d) invisible players, and (e) wimps. Several contextual factors are discussed as potential contributors to these participation styles. They are the availability of out-of-school team sport leagues, the racial and socioeconomic characteristics of the community, the age of the students observed, the interactions with teachers and other students in the classes, and the instructional strategies that teachers chose. The importance of identifying the variety of participation styles within each gender group, as well as identifying differences between girls and boys in physical education, is discussed.

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