Preservice Physical Education Teacher Attitudes ... - Semantic Scholar

1 downloads 0 Views 156KB Size Report
Los Angeles, 5151 State University Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90032; ... Health, Physical Education and Recreation, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48202.



Preservice Physical Education Teacher Attitudes Toward Fitness Tests and the Factors Influencing Their Attitudes Xiaofen Deng Keating California State University, Los Angeles Stephen Silverman Columbia University

Pamela Hodges Kulinna Wayne State University

This study examined preservice teacher (PT) attitudes toward fitness tests in schools. A total of 613 PTs at 10 state universities took part in the study. Participants completed a previously validated instrument designed to measure the affective and cognitive components of attitude toward fitness tests. Results suggested that PTs had only slightly positive attitudes toward fitness tests. They did not believe strongly that fitness tests were important or useful. Similar attitude responses were found as students’ professional preparation increased. Thus, physical education teacher education (PETE) programs did not appear to significantly change PT attitudes. Age, gender, associations with professional organizations, or the type of fitness test PTs had performed in their K-12 education also did not impact their attitudes. PT previous experience with fitness tests, however, did influence their attitudes. As might be expected, those who had positive experiences had more positive attitudes. Key Words: physical education majors, fitness test implementation

Today, American children may be fatter and less fit physically than ever before (Kuntzleman & Reiff, 1992). As a result, it has been suggested that effective interventions aimed at promoting student involvement in regular physical activity are needed (U.S. Dept. Health and Human Services [USDHHS], 1996). School physical education programs have been recommended as an appropriate venue for promoting health (USDHHS, 1996). Carefully designed intervention studies have shown significant increases in moderate and vigorous physical activity in physical education programs (Stone, McKenzie, Welk, & Booth, 1998). Unfortunately, research also has indicated that existing physical education programs often fail to optimally promote student health related fitness (Jewett, Bain, & Ennis, 1995). Therefore, it is important to have quality physical education programs that can promote children’s participation in physical activity on a regular basis. X.D. Keating is with the Dept. of Kinesiology and Nutritional Science, Cal State U. Los Angeles, 5151 State University Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90032; S. Silverman is with Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027; P. Kulinna is with the Division of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48202. 193



As a part of physical education programs, fitness tests are widely believed to be a key factor in encouraging students to get involved in physical activity on a regular basis (Jewett et al., 1995). After the poor performance of American youth on the Kraus-Weber physical test in 1954, implementing regular fitness tests was believed to be one effective approach to improving youth fitness. This is evidenced by health related associations starting to develop nationally available fitness tests for schools around that time (Freedson, Cureton, & Heath, 2000). Fitness tests are now commonly used in physical education programs. The national goal for 1990 was to have 70% of children ages 10–17 years participate in an annual fitness testing program (Wilmore, 1982). Although various fitness tests have been used in school programs for about a century (Corbin & Pangrazi, 1992), the nationally available fitness tests have been given more attention because most studies on fitness tests have examined them (Safrit & Wood, 1986; Whitehead & Corbin, 1991a, 1991b). Over the last 50 years, nationally available fitness tests have been revised several times with an increasing emphasis on health related fitness and motivating student involvement in regular physical activity (Freedson et al., 2000). More recently, other youth fitness test programs and materials targeting specific populations also have become available, such as the physical fitness program (Chrysler Fund–Amateur Athletic Union [AAU], 1992), FitSmart test: High school edition (Zhu, Safrit, & Cohen, 1999), and the Brockport physical fitness test, which includes special populations in fitness testing (Winnick & Short, 1999). Many studies have reported on the reliability and validity of scores produced by fitness test items and have assessed the standards of fitness tests (Cureton & Warren, 1990; Whitehead & Corbin, 1991a). The actual implementation of fitness tests in schools, however, has been seriously neglected (Corbin, Whitehead, & Lovejoy, 1988). Most of the data-based studies are at least a decade old (Safrit & Wood, 1986; Whitehead & Corbin, 1991a, 1991b). Little if any effort has been made to investigate the role of fitness testing in schools. Whitehead and Corbin (1991a, 1991b) noted that no different motivational and self-perception outcomes were found when different types of fitness tests—Fitnessgram vs. the President’s Challenge—were used. No data-based research on the implementation and effects of fitness tests in the last decade is available, even though the nationally available fitness tests have been revised during this period (American Alliance of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance [AAHPERD], 1999; Meredith & Welk, 1999). The role of fitness tests in increasing student participation in physical activity on a regular basis is still unknown. It should be noted that the whole issue of youth fitness testing has been controversial (Franks, Morrow, & Plowman, 1988). In spite of the lack of firm empirical data, there is a widespread notion that participating in fitness tests leads to increased physical activity in students (Meredith & Welk, 1999; President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sport [PCPFS], 1987). On the other hand, research has suggested there could be negative outcomes if fitness tests are not employed appropriately. Hopple and Graham (1995), for example, found that 4th and 5th graders had negative perceptions of the 1-mile-run test in the President’s Challenge and did not understand the purpose of the test. Moreover, fitness testing as a whole was identified by both elementary and secondary students as the biggest reason for their negative attitudes toward physical education (Millslagle & Keyes, 2000).



Preservice teachers (PT) will be responsible for administering fitness tests. The quality of PT preparedness in administering these tests will contribute to the effectiveness of using fitness tests in school. Unfortunately, it has been suggested that current PETE programs do not adequately prepare PTs to use fitness tests to promote students’ participation in physical activity on a regular basis (McKenzie & Sallis, 1996). It is unclear, however, whether PETE programs have given enough attention to the psychological preparation of PTs regarding the use of fitness tests. Hence, information regarding how PT attitudes change during their professional training can be used to assess the effectiveness of PETE programs in the psychological preparation of PTs for using fitness tests. This information may lead to improved teacher fitness testing practices in schools. Empirical data-based research has shown that attitudes can be changed through intervention (Theodorakis, 1992). Given that PTs are still in university settings where effective interventions can be implemented through course work, it may be the best time to improve their attitudes before they graduate and become teachers. This paper provides baseline data for fostering or enhancing PT positive attitudes toward fitness tests through PETE programs. The purpose of this study was to examine PT attitudes toward fitness tests and the factors that influence their attitudes. It should be noted that fitness testing and fitness tests are two different concepts. The concept of fitness testing is broader than fitness tests, which in turn are a primary component of fitness testing. Also included in the concept of fitness testing are the preparation, implementation, and utilization of fitness test results. The focus of this study was on attitudes toward fitness tests as a general concept.

Method A convenience sample of 613 PTs enrolled at 10 state universities participated in the study. Not all of them completed all of the demographic or psychometric questions on the instrument. Thus the total number of participants varies slightly for different aspects of the study. The participants averaged 23 years of age (range was 18–52 yrs). There were 17 freshmen, 51 sophomores, 228 juniors, and 312 seniors participating in the study. Both genders were well represented in the sample (370 M, 241 F). The distribution of gender in each year in PETE programs was about the same. Most of the PTs reported participating in fitness tests back in elementary or secondary school. Several were active in professional organizations including AAHPERD (9.62%) and state AHPERDs (14.85%). Detailed information about the participants is presented in Table 1.

Instrument An instrument designed to measure PT attitudes toward fitness tests in schools was used to collect data. The first part focused on demographic questions about PTs and their previous experiences with fitness tests. Gender, age, year in PETE program, and membership in professional organizations were included in the demographic questions. Gender was hypothesized as an influential factor on attitudes because of findings by Keating, Silverman, and Kulinna (1998) of gender differences when comparing attitudes between PETE students and elementary education majors, who will be certified to teach all subjects including physical education.


Table 1


Demographic Information of the Participants






Mean ≤25 >25

23.56 486 127

79.28% 20.72%


Female Male

241 370

39.44% 61.54%

Year at the university

Freshman Sophomore Junior Senior

17 51 228 312

2.80% 8.39% 37.50% 51.32%

Freshman Sophomore Junior Senior

9/8 21 / 30 77 / 151 132 / 180

3.75% / 2.16% 8.75% / 8.11% 32.08% / 40.81% 55.0% / 48.65%

Professional associations


59 91 125 488

9.62% 14.85% 20.39% 79.61%

Experience participating in fitness tests

Yes No/Don’t remember Fitnessgram Fitnessgram only President’s Challenge President’s Challenge only Youth Fitness test Physical Best test Chrysler Fund–AAU test Teacher-designed test

486 141 50 7 370 187 115 16 9 213

77.00% 23.00% 8.16% 1.14% 60.36% 30.51% 18.76% 2.61% 1.47% 34.75%

Fitness tests by type

Used multiple tests Norm-referenced tests Criterion-referenced tests Did not use tests

278 187 7 141

45.35% 30.51% 1.14% 23.00%

Nature of previous experience

Enjoyable Not enjoyable Neither

382 67 155

63.25% 11.90% 25.66%

Gender/year: Female / Male

Note: 1 Some participants were associated with the both AAHPERD and a state AHPERD, and took more than one fitness test. Thus the variables of “professional association” and “use of fitness tests” total more than 613. Due to missing data, some variables do not total 613.



In addition, gender differences were found in many studies related to fitness tests in physical education programs (Whitehead & Corbin, 1991a). Age difference of PTs was examined because the AAHPERD, Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research (CIAR), and PCPFS revised their fitness tests, and AAHPERD and CIAR together developed a new fitness test in the last 10 years (AAHPERD, 1999; CIAR, 1992; Meredith & Welk, 1999; PCPFS, 1987). It was hypothesized that the revised fitness test may have different influences than the original ones on PT attitudes toward fitness tests. Year in PETE program was employed to explore whether PETE programs changed PT attitudes through professional training. Membership in professional organizations was chosen because this factor was found to be positively related to teachers’ selection of fitness tests (Baumgartner, 1989). It was assumed that PT attitudes toward fitness tests might also be influenced by their membership in professional associations. Both the nature and the history of fitness test experiences were investigated. It was hypothesized that the nature of the experience, such as enjoyable or not, may result in different attitudes (Sabini, 1995). Participants’ experiences with specific fitness tests were explored in order to investigate the effects of different types of fitness tests on attitudes, since there are at least two types of fitness tests: criterion- and norm-referenced (Meredith & Welk, 1999; PCPFS, 1987). The instrument included a list of the most well-known fitness tests. It also is likely that PTs have taken tests designed by their teachers or some other fitness tests. An option of “other (specify)” was included at the end of the list so that participants could name any other fitness tests they may have had in K-12 physical education programs. The second part of the survey included 16 items related to the affective and cognitive components of attitude. There is one subdomain in the affective component (i.e., enjoyment) and one in the cognitive component (i.e., importance and usefulness of fitness tests). The affective component allows us to examine whether PTs enjoy participating in fitness tests. The cognitive component allows us to explore how strongly the participants believe in fitness tests. Overall attitude is measured by the mean score of the affective and cognitive components (Keating, Silverman, & Kulinna, 2001). Both positive and negative items are included on the instrument to avoid participant bias. Examples of items are: “I like fitness tests,” and “Fitness tests are a waste of time.” The strength of their attitudes was measured with a Likert scale ranging from 1 to 7, with 1 representing “strongly disagree” and 7 representing “strongly agree.” A midpoint score of 4 means “neither agree nor disagree.” A higher mean score (>4.0) on the affective component indicates that the participant has a higher affinity for fitness tests. The same relationship applies to the cognitive component and overall attitude. Instrument validation included a pilot study, a content validity study with a panel of experts, and a reliability and validity study (Keating et al., 2001). The scores produced by the instrument showed acceptable levels of reliability and validity. A copy of the fitness test attitude instrument may be obtained from the first author.

Data Collection Fourteen faculty members at 10 universities in 9 states (Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York, Texas, and Virginia) who were teaching PTs agreed to help with this study. Research packages including the informed consent forms and the surveys were mailed to the faculty members, who



in turn administered the instruments to their PTs in class. PTs who wished to participate were first asked to complete the informed consent form, then were given the anonymous survey instrument. The faculty members collected the completed research materials and returned them to the first author. Since all the students agreed to participate, the return rate was 100%, but the usable return rate was 96.4% because some did not complete the entire survey.

Data Analysis Reverse coding was used for negative items on the instrument. Thus, a high score indicates a positive attitude. The means and standard deviations for the attitude variables—overall attitudes, the affective and cognitive components—were calculated. Descriptive statistics were also calculated for the demographic variables such as age, gender, year in school, membership in professional organizations, and previous experience with fitness tests. Multivariate analyses of variance (MANOVAs) were used to investigate differences in attitudes among PT variables including gender, age, previous experience with fitness tests, membership in professional organizations, and year in teacher education program. The attitude variables included in MANOVAs were the affective and the cognitive subdomains, since the dependent variables in MANOVAs must be independent of each other. Therefore the combined attitude variable was not used in these analyses. MANOVAs were also used to determine whether there were differences among PT attitudes between men and women or between younger and older PTs. The dichotomous breakdown of participants ages 25 or younger and those older than 25 was chosen in order to look at possible differences in attitudes stemming from the timing of their participation in fitness tests due to changes in their own school physical education programs, such as the addition of the Fitnessgram test (AAHPERD, 1999; CIAR, 1992). MANOVAs were used to investigate differences in PT attitudes between individuals with previous experience vs. no experience with fitness tests. Attitudes between PTs who had experienced norm-referenced (e.g., President’s Challenge) vs. criterion-referenced (e.g., Fitnessgram) tests also were explored. Because some had participated in more than one type of test, they were not included in the analysis. In addition, it is possible that PTs may not remember whether they had participated in fitness tests in school or what those tests were called. These PTs could respond “do not remember” and their responses were combined with those who had no previous experience with fitness tests. Finally, MANOVA was also used to look at differences in PT attitudes about fitness tests by the nature of previous experience with the tests, that is, were their experiences enjoyable, not enjoyable, or neither? To investigate attitude changes through professional preparation, MANOVAs were performed for year at the university (freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior) and involvement vs. noninvolvement in professional organizations. In regard to the latter, two indices were employed: (a) membership in AAHPERD and (b) membership in state AHPERD. Other memberships were not included in the data analyses due to small representation. Differences in PT attitudes between those who were active in AAHPERD and those not involved in a professional organization, as well as between PTs who were active in a state AHPERD and those not active



in a professional organization, were investigated. Bonferonni adjustments were made to keep the overall error rate under 0.05. All significant MANOVAs were followed by discriminant function analysis, ANOVA, and ANCOVA to identify any differences (Stevens, 1996).

Results PT Overall Attitudes Toward Fitness Tests in Schools PT attitudes toward fitness tests were only slightly positive, with a grand mean score of 4.80 (SD = 1.02) on the 7-point Likert scale for overall attitudes. The mean scores for the affective and cognitive components were 4.78 (±1.26) and 4.82 (±1.03), respectively (see Table 2). The standard deviations for the overall attitudes, and the affective and cognitive components, were relatively large (>1.00).

Factors Influencing PT Attitudes Table 2 Overall PT Attitudes Toward Fitness Tests and Attitudes by Gender and Age (M ± SD) Overall (SD)



Overall Female Male Age 25

4.80 4.78 4.83 4.79 4.86

(1.02) (1.03) (1.02) (1.06) (0.91)

Affective M (SD)

Cognitive M (SD)

4.78 4.74 4.80 4.77 4.81

4.82 4.80 4.84 4.81 4.89

(1.26) (1.26) (1.25) (1.28) (1.16)

(1.03) (1.03) (1.03) (1.06) (0.93)

As noted earlier, two types of factors were included in this study: (a) demographic and experience related factors, and (b) professional education factors. The results of the demographic factors are reported first, followed by the professional education factors. Differences Due to Demographics and Experience. Male and female PTs had similar attitudes, Wilks’ lambda = 0.99, F(2, 608) = 1.8, p >0.84. Likewise, there was no significant difference between PTs ages 25 years or younger and those over 25 years of age, Wilks’ lambda = 1.00, F(2, 610) = 0.30, p > 0.74. Descriptive statistics for all the attitude variables by gender and age are listed in Table 2. About 80% of the participants reported that they remembered participating in fitness tests in school. The actual percentage should be higher than 80% since the response “do not remember” was not represented in this percentage. The result of the MANOVA investigating differences in attitudes by types of fitness tests—multiple tests, criterion-referenced, norm-referenced, and did not participate or did not remember participating in fitness tests—was not significant, Wilks’ lambda = 0.98, F(6, 1216) = 1.87, p > 0.08. Table 3 presents PT attitudes toward fitness tests



Table 3

PT Attitudes Toward Fitness Tests by Previous Personal Experience


Overall M (SD)

Affective M (SD)

Cognitive M (SD)

Participated in fitness tests: No Yes

4.77 (0.90) 4.82 (1.07)

4.64 (1.09) 4.82 (1.30)

4.85 (0.94) 4.82 (1.06)

Fitnessgram Fitnessgram only

4.88 (1.24) 4.63 (1.25)

4.80 (1.50) 4.27 (1.54)

4.93 (1.21) 4.85 (1.15)

President’s Challenge President’s Challenge only

4.78 (1.04) 4.80 (1.02)

4.81 (1.25) 4.84 (1.25)

4.77 (1.05) 4.77 (1.02)

Youth Fitness test

4.91 (1.08)

4.91 (1.26)

4.91 (1.07)

Physical Best test

4.47 (1.57)

4.54 (1.73)

4.23 (1.53)

Chrysler Fund AAU test

4.97 (1.14)

5.07 (1.23)

4.90 (1.23)

Teacher-designed test

5.02 (1.06)

5.05 (1.32)

5.01 (1.06)

Fitness tests by types Multiple tests Norm-referenced tests Criterion-referenced tests Did not use tests

4.90 4.70 4.73 4.77

4.90 4.71 4.57 4.64

4.90 4.69 4.83 4.85

Table 4

(1.10) (1.00) (1.28) (0.90)

(1.33) (1.24) (1.61) (1.09)

(1.09) (1.00) (1.14) (0.94)

PT Attitudes Toward Fitness Tests by Nature of Previous Experience


Overall M (SD)

Affective M (SD)

Cognitive M (SD)

Enjoyable Not enjoyable Neither

5.12 (0.95) 3.89 (1.00) 4.53 (0.83)

5.25 (1.13) 3.10 (0.91) 4.34 (0.90)

5.05 (0.97) 3.89 (1.00) 4.64 (0.94)

according to previous experience. Enjoyable previous experience in taking fitness tests was found to be an influential factor in PT attitudes, Wilks’ lambda = 0.68, F(4, 1200) = 62.58, p < 0.001. As might be expected, follow-up discriminant function analysis results revealed it was the variable of affect toward fitness tests that contributed to the significant difference in attitudes, indicating that those who had positive previous experience also had higher affect toward fitness tests. Table 4 presents the results of attitudes by the nature of previous experience participating in fitness tests.



Table 5 PT Attitudes Toward Fitness Tests by Year in University and Professional Association Variables

Overall M (SD)

Affective M (SD)

Cognitive M (SD)

Year in university 1st year 2nd year 3rd year 4th year

5.42 5.05 4.75 4.77

5.38 4.95 4.71 4.76

5.45 5.11 4.78 4.78

Professional association AAHPERD State AHPERD

4.62 (0.95) 4.74 (0.92)

4.55 (1.11) 4.74 (1.11)

4.66 (1.00) 4.74 (0.95)

4.81 (1.06)

4.78 (1.30)

4.84 (1.05)


(1.08) (1.00) (1.09) (0.97)

(1.45) (1.27) (1.35) (1.16)

(0.97) (0.93) (1.06) (1.01)

Attitude Changes Through Professional Preparation. The two variables employed to examine the influence of professional preparation in shaping PT attitudes were (a) year in PETE program and (b) membership in a professional association. No significant difference was found among PTs in various years of their PETE program, Wilks’ lambda = 0.97, F(8, 1212) = 1.59, p > 0.12. Although the differences were not statistically significant, the mean attitude variable scores of the 1st- and 2nd-year students were higher than those of the 3rd- and 4th-year students. Regarding the influence of professional associations, there was no significant difference between members of AAHPERD and state AHPERDs and the nonmembers, Wilks’ lambda (AAHPERD) = 0.99, F(2, 610) = 1.08, p > 0.34; Wilks’ lambda (state AHPERDs) = 0.99, F(2, 610) = 0.43, p > 0.65. Table 5 presents the mean scores of the attitude variables by year at the university and membership in professional associations.

Discussion The findings from this study should not be interpreted as providing a comprehensive account of attitudes toward nationally available fitness tests, since some individuals participated in various tests. But several important aspects of the study merit attention. First, the results indicate that the majority of PTs participated in fitness tests during their K-12 years, supporting the notion that fitness tests are widely used in school. However, they did not believe fitness tests were important or useful, and they also did not like them. Second, the type of fitness test, gender, membership in professional organizations, or age were not related to their attitudes toward fitness tests. As might be expected, positive previous experience with fitness tests resulted in more positive attitudes toward them. Finally, PETE programs



do not seem to be related to PT attitudes toward fitness tests, since their attitudes remained the same even as their professional training increased. Each of these findings will be discussed. The data from this study confirmed that fitness tests, especially the nationally available fitness tests, have often been implemented in physical education programs. Most participants had experienced taking the tests and could remember the names of those tests. The most frequently reported fitness test was the President’s Challenge (see Table 1). Research on fitness testing merits more attention from professionals since the tests are common teaching practice in K-12, even though most states do not have mandatory fitness testing requirements (McKenzie & Sallis, 1996). PTs had only slightly positive overall attitudes toward fitness tests. Similar findings regarding PT attitudes have been reported by Keating et al. (1998). The grand mean score of overall attitudes was 4.80 on a 7-point Likert scale, on which 4.00 represents neither positive nor negative attitudes. PTs also did not perceive fitness tests to be highly important or useful; the average scores for the cognition of fitness tests was 4.82. In addition, they were not fond of fitness tests (M = 4.78). Since PT attitudes may influence their decision about whether or how to implement fitness tests, their current slightly positive attitudes are not ideal for promoting the use of fitness tests in schools. The standard deviations of all attitude variables, however, were relatively large (all greater than 1.00), indicating that PTs perceived fitness tests differently. Interestingly, no gender difference was found, in contrast to a study by Keating et al. (1998). Data from the current study suggests that both genders had similar experiences with fitness tests and held common beliefs about them. The conflicting results may be associated with the sample size and the characteristics of the participants in the Keating et al. study, which included only about 100 participants, with mostly preservice elementary education teachers. Further studies are needed to determine whether men and women experienced fitness tests differently and developed different attitudes. Age was not a factor in influencing PT attitudes in this study, suggesting that the timing of experiences with fitness tests is not significant in determining attitude. This might suggest that the role of fitness tests in school has remained the same and has had a similar influence on PT attitudes, even though the nationally available fitness tests have changed several times and increasingly focused on health related fitness. Given that revisions of the nationally available fitness tests have focused on the testing items and the award systems (CIAR, 1992; Meredith & Welk, 1999; PCPFS, 1987), this result suggests that those factors did not have significant effects on changing PT attitudes toward fitness tests. As might be expected, it is the nature of the past experience that impacts attitudes. The data from this study indicate that a positive previous experience with fitness tests can have a positive influence on PT attitudes. Whether the participants had previous experience with fitness tests is not as important as whether they enjoyed the experience. Therefore, providing students positive experiences with fitness tests can help foster positive attitudes. It may take extra effort to change the attitudes of those with previous negative experiences. Since the results of the follow-up discriminant function analysis suggest that the affect variable contributed to the difference, increasing one’s enjoyment of fitness tests can play an important role in determining the nature of one’s attitude. However, it remains



unknown whether the affective component plays a bigger role than the cognitive component in attempting to change attitudes. This is an important issue to consider when studying enjoyable experience with fitness tests. In general, an enjoyable experience is subjective and means different things to different people. Needed are studies with different populations to examine the determinants of an enjoyable experience with fitness tests. One of the unexpected findings from this study is the nonsignificant result between PTs who had different types of fitness tests, such as Fitnessgram and the President’s Challenge tests. The use of norm-referenced tests vs. criterion-referenced tests, as well as using a reward system, have been argued for years (Corbin & Pangrazi, 1992; Franks et al., 1988). In spite of a lack of research evidence, researchers (Martinek & Griffith, 1994; McKenzie & Sallis, 1996) have reached a consensus that criterion-referenced standards can better motivate students to get involved in physical activity on a regular basis. In fact, national health related organizations such as AAHPERD (1988) and the American College of Sports Medicine (1988) have strongly recommended the use of criterion-referenced fitness tests in public schools. Therefore, it was hypothesized that criterion-referenced fitness tests, such as the Fitnessgram, might lead to more positive attitudes. Yet this was not found in the current study. Two explanations are possible. First, the assumption that criterion-referenced fitness tests give students more positive experiences or more motivation to participate in fitness tests is not true. The data from the study indicate that PTs who had participated in either norm-referenced or criterion-referenced tests had similar attitudes toward fitness tests. Similar results were found by Whitehead and Corbin (1991a), who investigated the effects of fitness test type on student exercise intrinsic motivation and physical self-worth. Whitehead and Corbin had expected to find significant differences between participants’ exercise intrinsic motivation and physical self-worth based on experiences with the two types of fitness tests, but this was not found. Perhaps the fitness test experience is more powerful than the way in which test scores are judged. The second possible explanation for this result is that the current study failed to show a difference in attitudes by type of fitness tests (i.e., a Type II error). Since the percentage of participants in this study with previous experience of taking part in criterion-referenced fitness tests is small relative to those who took part in norm-referenced tests, this second explanation may be the most plausible. Further study on the effects of fitness tests is needed. The nonsignificant attitude difference between members of AAHPERD and state AHPERDs and the nonmembers suggest that membership in professional organizations was not related to PT attitudes. This may be due to the function of professional associations. In general, professional associations serve as information providers and their members may be more informed regarding professional development. The data from the study suggest that professional associations probably did not effectively promote fitness tests to their members, especially to PTs. It appears that professional preparation programs did not have an impact on PT attitudes. Although a cross-sectional method has its weaknesses, it is useful in developmental studies (Thomas & Nelson, 1996). A cross-sectional approach using cohort comparisons allows us to examine changes over time. Comparing the attitude differences of students in various years at university-based PETE programs



shows the trends of changing attitudes. The PT attitudes did not change significantly even as their professional training increased. Moreover, although it was not statistically significant, there was an apparent trend that the longer PTs were in a PETE program, the more negative their attitudes about fitness tests. Given that students usually work on their general education requirements during the first 2 years of study and undergo intensive professional training in a PETE program during the 3rd and 4th years (O’Sullivan, 1990), the data suggest that PT attitudes toward fitness tests became less positive as their professional education increased. It remains unclear why PETE programs were not influencing PT attitudes. In general, changing PT attitudes relies on two conditions: (a) attitudes are changeable and (b) there are effective interventions for improving PT attitudes in PETE programs. Studies have suggested that students’ attitudes can be changed through carefully planned interventions (Adams & Brynteson, 1992; Brynteson & Adams, 1993). Therefore, the question is why PETE programs are not fostering positive attitudes toward fitness tests so that the PTs will be better prepared to use them in the future. There are two possible reasons for the finding that time in a PETE program was not related to PT attitudes. First, fitness tests are different from physical activity/ fitness instruction. Faculty in higher education may believe that fitness testing cannot play the role suggested by those promoting the fitness tests, and therefore that fitness testing is not important. As a result, they may not have tried to influence PT attitudes toward fitness testing. Second, fitness testing is believed to be important and PETE programs perhaps did focus on fostering positive attitudes among PTs. However, the effectiveness of the interventions may have been insufficient to yield significant results. Given the lack of empirical data, it is premature to determine which is the primary reason. Overall, the data from this study and those discussed by McKenzie and Sallis (1996) suggest that PTs have not been well trained pedagogically and psychologically to use fitness tests. This also may be one reason for inappropriate fitness testing practices in school physical education programs. Although this study does not focus on how fitness tests should be used, prominent scholars have suggested that it is critical to implement fitness tests for the right reason (Corbin & Lindsey, 1997; Pangrazi, 2001; Pangrazi & Corbin, 1993). An individualized self-testing approach with an emphasis on self-improvement and participation in physical activity has been recommended (Pangrazi, 2001; Pangrazi & Corbin, 1993). It would be interesting to ascertain whether PTs who have experienced fitness testing that focuses on self-testing and individual program planning, or those who have gone through professional preparation programs in which this is the focus, hold different attitudes than others. The following limitations of this study should be noted. First, the sample did not reflect an even distribution among freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors. The percentage of freshmen and sophomores is much smaller than that of juniors and seniors. This may have resulted from the method of data collection used in the study. Pedagogy courses often are upper division, while 1st- and 2nd-year students take general education classes. Second, the sample may not represent the overall population of PTs. Although a relatively large number of participants from 10 state universities were included in the study, random sampling was not used and one should be cautious about generalizing the results of this study to the PT population. Third, the factors that influence PT attitudes are not exclusive; this is a preliminary



study on those factors. Other factors, for instance, the participants’ performance on fitness tests and the use of fitness test results, may also influence their attitudes. Finally, most participants had experiences with the President’s Challenge in Grades K-12. The PTs’ overall attitudes toward fitness tests may be strongly influenced by their attitudes toward the President’s Challenge, even though the focus of the study was on fitness tests as a general concept. This study marks the first attempt to explore how PTs perceived fitness tests and the influence of PETE programs on changing their attitudes. The study also provides valuable information about PT attitudes toward fitness tests and the stability of their attitudes throughout professional preparation programs. In addition, the study provides baseline data for future research on this topic, such as interventions for changing PT attitudes through higher education experiences. More research is needed on PT perceptions of fitness tests and the role of PETE programs in preparing teachers to use fitness tests in their programs.

References Adams, T.M., & Brynteson, P. (1992). A comparison of attitudes and exercise habits of alumni from colleges with varying degrees of physical education activity programs. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 63, 148-152. American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. (1999). Physical Best program. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. American College of Sports Medicine. (1988). Physical fitness in children and youth. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 20, 422-423. Baumgartner, T. (1989). Status of the AAHPERD fitness tests in Georgia—Implications for Physical Best. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, 60(6), 84-88. Brynteson, P., & Adams, T.M. (1993). The effects of conceptually based physical education programs on attitudes and exercise habits of college alumni after 2 to 11 years of follow-up. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 64, 208-212. Chrysler Fund–Amateur Athletic Union. (1992). Physical fitness program. Bloomington, IN: Author. Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research. (1992). FITNESSGRAM User’s Manual. Dallas: Author. Corbin, C.B., & Lindsey, R. (1997). Fitness for life (4th ed.). Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman. Corbin, C.B., & Pangrazi, R.P. (1992). Are American children and youth fit? Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 63, 96-106. Corbin, C.B., Whitehead, J.R., & Lovejoy, P.Y. (1988). Youth physical fitness awards. Quest, 40, 200-218. Cureton, K.J., & Warren, G.L. (1990). Criterion-referenced standards for youth healthrelated fitness tests: A tutorial. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 61, 719. Franks, B.D., Morrow, J.R., Jr., & Plowman, S.A. (1988). Youth fitness testing: Validation, planning, and politics. Quest, 40, 187-199. Freedson, P.S., Cureton, K.J., & Heath, G.W. (2000). Status of field-based fitness testing in children and youth. Preventive Medicine, 31, S77-S85. Hopple, C., & Graham, G. (1995). What children think, feel, and know about physical fitness



testing. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 14, 408-417. Jewett, A.E., Bain, L.L., & Ennis, C.D. (1995). The curriculum process in physical education (2nd ed.). Madison, WI: Brown & Benchmark. Keating, X.D., Silverman, S., & Kulinna, P.H. (1998). Preservice physical education teachers’ attitudes toward fitness tests in the United States. In R.S. Feingold, C.R. Rees, G.T. Barrette, L. Fiorentino, S. Virgilio, & E. Kowalski (Eds.), Education for life: Proceedings of the AIESEP/Adelphi World Sport Science Congress (pp. 399-404). Garden City, NY: Adelphi University. Keating, X.D., Silverman, S., & Kulinna, P.H. (2001). Development of an instrument measuring preservice physical education teacher attitudes toward fitness tests in schools. Measurement in Physical Education and Exercise Science, 5, 219-242. Kuntzleman, C.T., & Reiff, G.G. (1992). The decline in American children’s fitness levels. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 63, 107-111. Martinek, T.J., & Griffith, J.B., III. (1994). Learned helplessness in physical education: A developmental study of causal attributions and task persistence. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 13, 108-122. McKenzie, T.L., & Sallis, J.F. (1996). Physical activity, fitness, and health-related physical education. In S.J. Silverman & C.D. Ennis (Eds.), Student learning in physical education: Applying research to enhance instruction (pp. 223-246). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. Meredith, M.D., & Welk. G.J. (1999). FITNESSGRAM: Test administration manual (2nd ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. Millslagle, D., & Keyes, J. (2000, March). Comparing attitudes of male and female students toward physical education at the elementary and secondary levels. Paper presented at the annual meeting of AAHPERD, Orlando, FL. O’Sullivan, M. (1990). Physical education teacher education in the United States. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, 61(2), 41-45. Pangrazi, R.P. (2001). Dynamic physical education for elementary school children (13th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon. Pangrazi, R.P., & Corbin, C.B. (1993). Physical fitness: Questions teachers ask. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, 64(7), 14-19. President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sport. (1987). The President’s physical fitness program. Washington, DC: Author. Sabini, J. (1995). Social psychology (2nd ed. ). New York: W.W. Norton. Safrit, M.J., & Wood, T.M. (1986). The health-related physical fitness test: A tri-state survey of users and non-users. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 57, 27-32. Stevens, J.P. (1996). Applied multivariate statistics for the social sciences (3rd ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum. Stone, E.J., McKenzie, T.L., Welk, G.J., & Booth, M.L. (1998). Effects of physical activity interventions in youth: Review and synthesis. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 15, 298-315. Theodorakis, Y. (1992). Change of attitudes toward skiing after participation in a skiing course. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 75, 272-274. Thomas, J.L., & Nelson, J.K. (1996). Research methods in physical activity (3rd ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. U.S. Dept. Health and Human Services. (1996). Physical activity and health: A report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.



Whitehead, J.R., & Corbin, C.B. (1991a). Effects of fitness test type, teacher, and gender on exercise intrinsic motivation and physical self-worth. Journal of School Health, 61, 11-15. Whitehead, J.R., & Corbin, C.B. (1991b). Youth fitness testing: The effect of percentilebased evaluative feedback on intrinsic motivation. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 62, 225-231. Wilmore, J.H. (1982). Objectives for the nation: Physical fitness and exercise. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, 53(3), 41-43. Winnick, J.P., & Short, F.X. (1999). The Brockport physical fitness test manual. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. Zhu, W., Safrit, M., & Cohen, A. (1999). FitSmart test user manual: High school edition. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.