Content Analysis of Conceptually Based Physical Education in Southeastern United States Universities and Colleges


  • Suzanne Ellen Williams University of South Dakota
  • Leon Greene University of Kansas
  • Sonya Satinsky University of Massachusetts
  • John Neuberger University of Kansas Medical Center



physical activity, exercise, physical education, college students


Purpose: The purposes of this study were to explore PE in higher education through the offering of traditional activity- and skills-based physical education (ASPE) and conceptually based physical education (CPE) courses and to conduct an exploratory content analysis on the CPE available to students in randomized colleges and universities in the Southeastern United States. Method: A randomized sample of 56 institutions was screened to determine if PE and CPE courses were offered and/or required, followed by a closer examination of the CPE courses. Results: Preliminary research indicated that 73% of the institutions required PE as a general education requirement, 77% offered CPE, and 46% included CPE in the general education requirements. Further research suggested that upon comparison to national health- and PE-related standards and recommendations, many course content analysis criteria dependent variables including course components, description and objectives, curriculum, and evaluation scored 50% or higher, which indicated shared characteristics among all of the CPE courses. Conclusions: PE and CPE are important components of higher education, with the majority of the institutions in this sample including PE in their general education requirements. In addition, most of these institutions offered CPE, with nearly half stipulating a CPE requirement. More specifically, this sample of CPE courses shared many commonalities. Programming combining health education concepts in the classroom and regular PA and exercise in a laboratory setting may encourage students to have active, healthy lifestyles during the semester of enrollment that can be continued later in life.

Author Biographies

Suzanne Ellen Williams, University of South Dakota

Kinesiology and Sport ScienceAssistant Professor

Leon Greene, University of Kansas

Health, Sport, & Exercise Sciences

Sonya Satinsky, University of Massachusetts

Center for Health PromotionDirector

John Neuberger, University of Kansas Medical Center

Preventive Medicine and Public Health