This study examined types of activities available to children and how classes were organized when elementary P.E. was taught by nonspecialist classroom teachers. Observations were conducted in 84 elementary schools in southern California. The observation instrument was validated by having independent observers code three videotaped classes and compare their responses to those of three teacher educators specializing in observation methods and elementary P.E. Interobserver reliabilities were 96.3 on the activity selection and 83.3 on class organization. Results indicated that when students were involved in an organized class activity, they usually participated as an entire class in game-type activities such as relays, kickball, and dodgeball. The children had few opportunities to engage in skill practice or gymnastics and dance activities. Frequently, teachers dropped P.E. classes from the day’s schedule or permitted children to engage in free play. Fitness related activities were prominent during less than 3% of the classes.
The authors are with the Department of Physical Education, College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA 92182-0712.