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  • Author: Melinda A. Solmon x
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Laura Azzarito and Melinda A. Solmon

The study of the social construction of the body has become crucial to contemporary academic discourses in education and physical education. Employing feminist poststructuralist theory and a qualitative ethnographic design, this study investigated how high school students identified themselves with images of bodies drawn from fitness and sports magazines, and how their body narratives were linked to their participation in physical education. Students’ body narratives reflected notions of comfortable, bad, and borderland bodies that influenced students’ physical activity choices and engagement in physical education. Girls’ narratives of their physicality were found to be significantly less comfortable than boys’. Critical pedagogy to destabilize gendered dominant discourses of mass media body culture and to develop positive, meaningful, and empowering student physicality is discussed.

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Laura Azzarito and Melinda A. Solmon

Recently, national studies have reported on young people’s low level of participation in physical activity. Because the effect of gender and racial differences among youth participating in physical activity have not been sufficiently addressed, examining the social construction of the body in physical education can provide valuable insights. This study uses poststructuralism as a lens to investigate how students’ construction of meanings around the body varied by gender and race, and how bodily meanings related to students’ participation in physical education classes. The participants were 528 students from public high schools. An instrument was used to assess students’ racial and gendered construction of bodily meanings around specific discursive constructs. Results indicated that students’ meanings differ by race and gender, especially in regard to size, power, muscularity, and appearance. These findings suggest that bodily meanings were influential in students’ self-reported levels of participation in physical education classes.

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Charity L. Bryan and Melinda A. Solmon

Recently, the lack of physical activity and increasing rates of childhood obesity have received a great deal of attention in the United States. One way to combat inactivity in children is to utilize physical education programs as a means to promote active lifestyles. There is not, however, a consensus concerning how physical education programs can achieve the goal of increasing children’s physical activity patterns. The purpose of this review is to examine motivational constructs that can provide a theoretical framework to identify strategies that can be used in physical education classes to promote engagement in physical activity. Self-determination theory is offered as a framework that has the potential to integrate these motivational constructs and provide a more complete understanding of how practitioners can structure learning environments to foster motivation and engagement in activity. Suggestions are made for implementing the research into practice, as well as future research directions.

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Tao Zhang, Melinda A. Solmon and Xiangli Gu

Examining how teachers’ beliefs and behaviors predict students’ motivation and achievement outcomes in physical education is an area of increasing research interest. Guided by the expectancy-value model and self-determination theory, the major purpose of this study was to examine the predictive strength of teachers’ autonomy, competence, and relatedness support toward students’ expectancy-related beliefs, subjective task values, concentration, and persistence/effort in physical education. Participants were 273 middle school students (143 girls, 130 boys) enrolled in a southeastern suburban public school. They completed previously validated questionnaires assessing their perceived teachers’ support for autonomy, competence, and relatedness, expectancy-related beliefs, subjective task values, concentration, and self-reported persistence/effort during their regular classes. The results highlight the importance of teachers’ competence support and autonomy support in fostering students’ motivational constructs and achievement outcomes in physical education. The findings demonstrate that a supportive environment and high levels of expectancy-related beliefs and subjective task values are positively associated with students’ achievement outcomes in physical education.

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Xiangli Gu, Mei Chang and Melinda A. Solmon

Purpose:

This study examined the association between physical activity (PA), physical fitness, and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) among school-aged children.

Methods:

Participants were 201 children (91 boys, 110 girls; Mage = 9.82) enrolled in one school in the southern US. Students’ PA (self-reported PA, pedometer-based PA) and physical fitness (cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular fitness, flexibility, and body composition) were assessed in the fall. The PedsQL4.0 (Varni et al., 2001) was used to assess participants’ HRQOL (physical and mental function) in the spring.

Results:

PA and four components of physical fitness were positively associated with physical and mental function. Path analyses suggested physical fitness mediated the relationship between self-reported PA and HRQOL (95% CI: [.53, 1.48]), as well as between pedometer-based PA and HRQOL (95% CI: [.54, 1.53]).

Discussion:

Results support the conclusion that enhancing children’s physical fitness can facilitate positive outcomes including improved health related quality of life.

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Melinda A. Solmon and Amelia M. Lee

In this study, relationships between entry characteristics, in-class behavior, self-report measures of student cognition, and achievement during motor skill instruction were examined. Fifty-six sixth-grade students participated in a 4-day instructional unit on the forearm pass in volleyball. All classes were videotaped to code in-class behavior. Data collection included skill pretest and posttest, Harter’s Perceived Competence Scale, forms about the errors made during practice, and a Cognitive Processes Questionnaire (CPQ). Correlates of achievement, as reflected by residual gain scores, were perceived competence, student reports of attention, and variables indicating the quality of practice. Relationships between entry characteristics, in-class behavior, and measures of cognition were evaluated using canonical correlational analyses, and these relationships suggest that entry characteristics are important factors in how students interact in achievement settings. The results of this study show that investigating the complex relationships between these sets of variables can yield results that clarify how students effectively mediate instruction.

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Melinda A. Solmon and Amelia M. Lee

This study explored the cognitive responses of adapted physical education teachers during lesson planning. The focus was to determine whether expert (n=4) and novice (n=4) teachers varying in experience and expertise differ in the information they need to plan a lesson and how they conceptualize a lesson. Subjects were given information about a fictional class of handicapped students and were asked to plan a lesson. After writing a lesson plan, they were asked to explain it to the experimenter. The results provided clear evidence of the experienced teachers’ superior knowledge base and repertoire of teaching strategies. Their responses were filled with contingency plans based on the actions and abilities exhibited by the students. In contrast, the novices generated plans that were unidirectional and failed to accommodate the range of ability levels in the class.

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Melinda A. Solmon, Terry Worthy and Jo A. Carter

The interactive model views the teacher as a powerful socializing agent and establishes links between biographical characteristics and the demands of different contexts. This study describes the dynamic interaction of factors related to teacher role identity and school context. Specifically the goal was to employ case studies to examine the biographies of three first-year teachers to determine how individual perception of the teaching role impacts professional development during the first year of teaching. Using subject interviews, field notes, lesson plans, student performance data, and informal interviews with administrators and coworkers, a comparison was made between the cases to learn how the teaching perspectives of first-year teachers interact with school contexts. Results support the notion that the beginning teacher can be an active agent in controlling the direction of biography and social structures in the socialization process.

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Weidong Li, Amelia M. Lee and Melinda A. Solmon

This study was designed to explore the relationships among individuals’ dispositional ability conceptions, intrinsic motivation, experience, perceived competence, persistence, and performance. Participants practiced a novel task, completed surveys before instruction and after practicing the task, and completed a skill test. The results indicated that participants with higher levels of entity ability conceptions were likely to exert less effort and be less intrinsically motivated during practice. Participants with more experience were likely to feel more competent before and after practice. Perceived competence, incremental ability conceptions, and performance were positive predictors of intrinsic motivation. The results suggest that providing students opportunities to experience a variety of activities and creating an environment in which students can feel competent, believe in the efficacy of effort, and experience success could foster intrinsic motivation to actively engage in activities.

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Zan Gao, Amelia M. Lee, Melinda A. Solmon and Tao Zhang

This study investigated the relationships and mean-level changes of middle school students’ motivation (expectancy-related beliefs, task values, self-efficacy, and outcome expectancy) toward physical education over time, and how gender affected students’ motivation. Participants (N = 206) completed questionnaires over a 1-year period: once in the sixth and seventh grades and again in the seventh and eighth grades. Results yielded that self-efficacy and task values were positive predictors of students’ intention across cohorts. The mean levels of self-efficacy decreased over time for students in Cohort 1 (across sixth and seventh grades). However, results revealed a consistent decline in the mean levels of other motivational variables for both cohorts. No gender differences emerged for the variables. The findings are discussed in regard to the implications for educational practice, and future research areas are presented.