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Advisory Committee Chair

Jane Lp Roy

Advisory Committee Members

John P McCarthy

Document Type

Thesis

Date of Award

2012

Degree Name by School

Master of Arts in Education (MAE) School of Education

Abstract

Introduction: Childhood obesity and physical inactivity are two major health issues in the United States linked to several life threatening diseases. Because of a general lack of physical activity (PA) stemming from a sedentary lifestyle at an early age, it is critical that we provide children with a solid foundation of PA to carry into adulthood. Undoubtedly, school is the best place for instruction. Tennis is a unique sport that can be utilized to increase wellbeing in youth as it offers an abundance of health benefits as well as mental and social benefits. Research regarding tennis integration into physical education (PE) curricula is extremely limited; therefore, there is a vital need for this type of investigation. Purpose: The overall objective of this study is to investigate if elementary and middle school PE teachers are incorporating tennis into their curricula and to explore possible barriers potentially affecting student participation. Methods: A questionnaire was developed for physical educators attending a conference (n = 75). The survey consisted of categorical questions concerning the school where the respondents were employed, its inclusion of tennis in curricula and Likert 4-point scale statements towards potential barriers to tennis participation. The survey was administered at a booth located in the exhibition hall of the conference. On average, individuals completed the survey within a timeframe of 5-10 minutes. Results: Twenty-seven percent of schools offered tennis; 73% of schools did not. Money (Odds Ratio=6.84, p<0.05) and courts (Odds Ratio=11.53, p<0.01) were the most significant perceived barriers that affected tennis inclusion in PE curricula. Conclusion: Lack of monetary funds and tennis courts were the biggest predictors for tennis not being included in PE curricula, despite that the United States Tennis Association (USTA) provides free training and equipment for PE teachers. For children to be physically active through tennis in schools, PE teachers should be aware of the various health benefits provided by participation in tennis as well as the USTA programs that can assist with overcoming any possible barriers.

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