Purpose: To examine the impact of a physical education teacher’s age on students’ learning and perceptions of the teacher. Method: A total of 188 elementary students were randomly assigned to view one of two virtually identical filmed swimming lessons. In the young-appearance lesson, the teacher was youthful. In the middle-aged lesson, he had been aged by a theatrical make-up artist. Following the viewing of their assigned lesson, students completed an examination covering lesson content and a questionnaire about their perceptions of the teacher. Results: Inferential statistical tests indicated that students who watched the young-appearance lesson scored significantly higher on the examination and perceived the teacher to be significantly more likable, more competent, and a better role model than those who viewed the middle-aged lesson. Discussion: These findings could be interpreted as supporting either a sociological or psychological/developmental explanation for how and why students respond to and learn from older and younger physical educators.
Pennington is with the Department of Kinesiology, Cornell College, Mount Vernon, IA. Curtner-Smith is with the Department of Kinesiology, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL. Wind is with Educational Studies, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL.