Memories of Physical Education


  • Amy M. Sidwell Fairmont State University
  • Richard T. Walls West Virginia University


The purpose of this investigation was to explore college students' autobiographical memories of physical education (PE). Questionnaires were distributed to students enrolled in undergraduate Introduction to PE and Introduction to Communications courses. The 261 participants wrote about memories of PE. These students recalled events from Grades K–4, 5–8, and 9–12. Memories were coded by using themes and activities. Positive and Negative Interpersonal Experiences were the most frequent themes for School of PE majors, and Positive and Negative Learning Experiences were the most frequent themes for non-School of PE majors. Additional themes included Injuries, Participant as Hero, and Embarrassment. Activities included Running/Track, Dodgeball, Basketball, and Bat/Ball Games. School of PE majors rated their memories of PE more pleasant than non-School of PE majors. 

Many people have strong feelings about physical education (PE). Too often politicians, pundits, and parents decry the state of PE in schools. Their opinions may be based upon their own experiences in PE when they were in school. In this investigation, the researchers wanted to examine what people remembered from PE in kindergarten through Grade 12. What people remember about PE during their school years may affect how they perceive the value of the PE profession.