Examining high school student perceptions of physical education

Ken Murfay, Aaron Beighle, Heather Erwin, Erin Aiello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The current case study was designed to seek out incoming high school students’ perceptions of physical education (PE) and how students felt former PE teachers influenced their perceptions. The study was conducted at a high school in the United States and included semi-structured focus group interviews of 25 students. The results indicated that students have a mix of positive and negative perceptions of PE and reported that the purpose of PE was to participate in physical activity (PA) and learn how to live a healthy lifestyle through fun and meaningful experiences (theme 1). A fun and meaningful PE experience included learning how to live a healthy lifestyle, experiencing success in a variety of physical activities, and engaging socially with other peers (theme 2). The majority of students stated that their teachers controlled the factors that influenced their level of enjoyment in PE (theme 3). Students recognized that these activities and their teachers’ actions influenced their interpretations of their PA experiences in PE. Students reported that these perceptions could influence their future participation in PA. Based on the results of the study, PE has the potential to provide students with positive experiences with PA that encourage individual competence over social comparison. This, combined with meaningful content that is based on PE standards and students’ personal interests, can help to develop positive student perceptions of PE and increase students’ participation in PA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)704-719
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Physical Education Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.


  • adolescents
  • high school
  • perceptions
  • physical activity
  • physical education
  • qualitative
  • secondary

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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