Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



Major Professor

Dawn P. Coe

Committee Members

Leslee Fisher, David Bassett


The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine and describe elementary school teachers’ perceptions of physical activity among children in an urban, Title I, school in Tennessee. Twelve elementary teachers in Second and Third grade were interviewed using a semi-structured interview. The interview protocol was developed to guide participants from broader concepts regarding physical activity to more focused discussions on the use of physical activity during the school day.

Data presented examines the perceptions of teachers’ overall view of physical activity among children during school hours, the amount of physical activity children engaged in during school hours, the impact of physical activity on children’s overall wellbeing and academic performance, and ways physical activity is used as a behavior modifier. Findings suggest that the majority of teachers believed that physical activity was important to the wellbeing of children. Obstacles to increasing physical activity among children while at school included a strict focus on academic instructional requirements that do not afford time for additional activities, the perception that physical activity is not an end-of-year test requirement for children, pressure on teachers to increase standardized test scores as a measure of their performance evaluation, and the perception that physical activity is met simply through time allocated to PE and recess. Perceptions of social and mental benefits of physical activity, as well as, perceived benefits of physical activity for increasing academic performance are discussed.

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