An Exploration of the Students’ Perspective of Alternative Environment Activities in Physical Education
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AbstractAlternative Environment Activities (AEAs) are a common component of physical education curricula across Canada (Kilborn et al., 2016), and studies have demonstrated the benefit to promoting participation in AEAs, such as leading to decreased sedentary behaviour and participation in higher amounts of physical activity (Hall et al., 2022). Yet, to date, there is minimal research exploring the role of AEAs in PE programs and all of it has focused on teachers’ perceptions and behaviours related to inclusion of AEAs in physical education programs (e.g., Hall et al., 2020; Robinson et al., 2021). Consequently, there is a clear need to examine AEAs in physical education from the students’ perspective. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine students’ perceptions regarding their experiences participating in AEAs as part of their school-based physical education. Participants were a convenience sample of first year Brock University students who indicated they had participated in AEAs as part of their school-based physical education experiences. Following a basic qualitative methodology (Merriam, 2009), thirteen one-on-one semi-structured interviews were utilized to explore the participants’ experiences in AEAs during their elementary and secondary school physical education. The data was examined through a thematic analysis (Clarke & Braun, 2016), with verbatim transcripts analyzed by two researchers to eliminate bias and ensure trustworthiness (Strauss & Corbin, 1998). Findings demonstrated that participants had an overall positive response to the incorporation of AEAs within physical education and saw value in including AEAs as part of a physical education program. Participants indicated that AEAs were a positive part of their physical education experiences because AEAs were seen as fun and provided variety. The results also demonstrated there were no dominant specific AEAs that participants preferred. However, participants did indicate having a preference for AEAs that were done outside in natural settings and that allowed them to escape the gymnasium setting for physical education classes. Participants offered suggestions to better include AEAs in physical education such as using small scale AEAs more frequently and increased funding for AEAs. This research provides initial insight into students’ perceptions regarding AEAs being incorporated into school-based physical education programs.
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