Examining the influence of physical and health education on ontario grade 9 students' physical activity intentions and behaviours

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Reid, Mary-Anne
physical and health education , Theory of Planned Behaviour , physical activity
Insufficient physical activity and a sedentary lifestyle are major contributors to health risks for Canadian youth. Adolescents, particularly girls, tend to experience major drop-offs in physical activity levels during high school. However, there is minimal research examining the extent to which Physical and Health Education (PHE) courses promote physical activity and mitigate against this decline. Grounded in the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB), the purpose of this quantitative short-term longitudinal study is two-pronged: (a) examine the effectiveness of Grade 9 PHE for 197 students’ reports of TPB constructs, physical activity intentions, and physical activity behaviour; and (b) explore the utility of TPB in predicting physical activity intentions and behaviour. For the first set of research questions, results were analyzed using 2 (time: Time Point 1 [T1], Time Point 2 [T2]) x 2 (condition: in PHE/not in PHE) x 2 (TPB status: higher or lower than the mean) MANCOVAs with boys and girls examined separately. There was no effect of PHE over time. There was no interaction among time, condition, and TPB status. There was a significant effect of condition for girls in PHE, with Attitude and Physical Activity Behaviour higher at both time points. For the second set of research questions, results were analyzed using multiple linear regressions to examine TPB in a Grade 9 setting. Findings provided support for the theoretical structure of the TPB in a Grade 9 context, with the three TPB constructs accounting for a minimum of 59% of Intentions, and a minimum of 25% of Behaviour for boys and girls. Attitude was the strongest independent predictor of Intentions with Intentions and Attitude the strongest predictors of Behaviour. PHE teachers should potentially focus attention on changing attitudes for this age group, given the importance of this construct.
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