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Donetta J. Cothran and Catherine D. Ennis

Student engagement is a critical issue in education. A key component of engagement is the student’s sense of membership. When students believe in and feel a part of the purposes of school and physical education, they are more likely to engage in activities and conform to norms. The purpose of this study was to investigate students’ perspectives on school membership and its relationship to physical education. Three teachers and 16 students from a large, urban high school were observed and interviewed. The data were analyzed via constant comparison. The results indicated that school and departmental practices interacted to influence students’ sense of membership. In particular, students failed to believe in the relevance and value of their experiences, and felt few social attachments. As a result, students frequently lacked the willingness and ability to engage in physical education.

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Catherine D. Ennis and Jepkorir R. Chepyator-Thomson

The purpose of this research was the examination of the field-dependent/independent cognitive style as it related to learning within a Logsdon-based movement curriculum. Subjects consisted of 104 children scoring in the 1st- (field independent) and 4th-quartile (field dependent) on the Children’s Embedded Figures Test. Observation and interview data were collected by the two researchers over a 4-month period. Data were analyzed using constant comparison. Field-independent students’ performance was consistent with teacher expectations during the majority of the classes observed. Field-dependent students experienced difficulty focusing on lesson discussion, following directions, and working independently. The discussion focused on the role of structure and the influence of social relationships on learning behaviors of field-dependent children.

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Ang Chen, Tan Zhang, Stephanie L. Wells, Ray Schweighardt and Catherine D. Ennis

Based on the value orientation theory, the purpose of this study was to determine the impact of value orientation incongruence between physical education teachers and an externally designed curriculum on student learning in a concept-based fitness-centered physical education curriculum. Physical education teachers (n = 15) with different value orientations taught an externally designed, standards-based fitness/healthful living curriculum to their middle school students (n = 3,827) in 155 sixth, seventh, and eighth grade intact classes. A pre-post assessment design was used to determine whether student fitness/healthful living knowledge gains differed in terms of teachers’ value orientations. An ANOVA on class means of residual-adjusted knowledge gain scores revealed no statistically significant differences based on value orientations. The evidence suggests that teacher value orientation impact may be mediated by curriculum impact. This finding supports the observation that a well-designed physical education curriculum may minimize the impact of teachers’ diverse value orientations on the curriculum implementation and student learning.

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Catherine D. Ennis, Donetta J. Cothran, Keren S. Davidson, Susan J. Loftus, Lynn Owens, Lisa Swanson and Peter Hopsicker

The purpose of this study was to examine situational and personal contextual factors that teachers and students reported as enhancing or minimizing student engagement in urban high school physical education classes. In this ethnographic study, 21 physical education teachers and their students in six high schools were observed, and all teachers at six schools and 51 students at five schools were interviewed to examine their perspectives on physical education. Data were analyzed using constant comparison. Findings suggested that students found some tasks to be embarrassing, boring, and irrelevant. Some students preferred to receive a failing grade rather than participate. All participants reported a sense of fear and alienation in the school or class environments. Students, however, described several teachers who created contexts of engagement in these schools. These teachers connected personally with students and worked to provide an innovative curriculum that students felt was relevant and worthwhile.