Relationship Between Teacher Fidelity and Physical Education Student Outcomes
To evaluate the influence of scientifically based curricula intended for the physical education (PE) classroom, researchers should consider fidelity, or the extent to which teachers who are implementing a PE curricular intervention adhere to the model of curriculum and instruction inherent in the research design. The purpose of this study was to assess PE teachers’ fidelity of implementation as they implemented a research-based PE curricular intervention and to examine the relationship between teachers’ fidelity to the curricular intervention and student outcomes. Six teachers from three middle schools taught one 20-lesson unit from a PE intervention to their sixth grade students. Teachers’ fidelity of implementation was documented using nonparticipatory observations. Students’ knowledge acquisition was measured on a standardized knowledge test prior to and after the 20-lesson unit. Students’ physical activity intensity levels were measured on lesson observation days using accelerometers. Multiple regression with fidelity score as the predictor and knowledge acquisition as the criterion variable indicated that teachers’ fidelity scores accounted for a large portion of variance in student knowledge growth (R2 = .79, adj R2 = .74, p < .05). Approximately 48% of all observed lesson time involved moderate to vigorous physical activities. Based on the findings from this research, it appears the more faithful teachers are to teaching research-based curricula as designed, the greater the impact the curricula can have on student achievement.
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