Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Exercise and Sport Sciences

Major Professor

Joy DeSensi

Committee Members

Lars Dzikus, Barbara Thayer-Bacon, Vincent Anfara


The purpose of this study was to explore how the pleasure and participation sports model as described by Coakley (2009) was reflected through an Advanced Physical Education course. This included an analysis examining whether the model was supported, expanded, or refuted based on characteristics of the model emphasizing (a) democratic leadership, (b) inclusive participation, and (c) the use of cooperation and competition with others to develop and test skills in a healthy and enjoyable context.

A single-site, exploratory, qualitative case study design provided the opportunity to investigate the phenomenon under exploration. A particular Advanced Physical Education course was purposefully selected as the bounded case for the study. Fifteen students and one teacher agreed to participate. Semi-structured, one-on-one interviews (audio taped), observations, and documents provided data sources for information collected between August 2010 and April 2011.

Data analysis procedures included a constant comparative method in which conceptually congruent categories were constructed to develop multiple iterations of analysis. Themes that developed based on the data suggested that students experienced a sense of enjoyment, empowerment, and connection resulting from their involvement in the class. From an interactionist perspective, as students found themselves interacting with one another in sports such as archery and kayaking, they were able to prescribe meanings that were often very different than their experiences in traditional sports.

Conclusions from the study indicated that the course did reflect the pleasure and participation model. This study suggests that if students interpret their experiences in physical education and sports as positive, then they are more likely to participate. Utilizing Coakley’s model is significant because it provides a framework for considering sports from a broader perspective reflecting the diverse youth population. As a result, the research is beneficial in considering how current opportunities in sport and physical education can be expanded to offer all youth an opportunity to participate and experience sociopositive outcomes. This is also noteworthy since research has indicated the importance of physical activity and that in terms of health, the best physical activities consist of ones which are non-competitive and rhythmic (Chenoweth & Leutzinger, 2006; Curry, Arriagada, & Cornwell, 2002).

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