A Study of Conceptually Based Physical Education in Higher Education


  • Suzanne E. Williams University of South Dakota
  • J. Leon Greene University of Kansas
  • Andrew Fry University of Kansas
  • John Neuberger University of Kansas Medical Center
  • Sonya Satinsky Princeton University




exercise, physical fitness, physical education, college students


Purpose: The purpose of this research was to determine whether university students who participated in conceptually based physical education (CPE) would achieve greater positive improvements in their physical fitness level, compared to students in traditional activity- and skills-based physical education (ASPE). Method: This was a pilot study based on an experimental design consisting of 2 intervention groups of CPE (n = 27) and ASPE (n = 29) students who were required to participate in fitness preassessments and postassessments scheduled accordingly during the semester at a medium-sized Midwestern university in the United States. Results: Descriptive and paired samples t test analyses indicated that all students made physical fitness improvements; however, no significant between-group differences were found based on ANOVA analysis. Conclusion: Most of the students showed gains in physical fitness; as a result, students benefited from participating in both types of physical education courses. There is a need for physical education in colleges and universities, and whether in the form of CPE or ASPE, these courses will benefit all students. CPE courses will merely extend further opportunity for the cultivation of physical and health education, as well as potentially improve motivation, attitudes, and behaviors toward exercise during the semester of course enrollment and beyond.

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Author Biographies

Suzanne E. Williams, University of South Dakota

Kinesiology and Sport Management

Assistant Professor

J. Leon Greene, University of Kansas

Health, Sport, and Exercise Sciences

Associate Professor

Andrew Fry, University of Kansas

Health, Sport, and Exercise Sciences


John Neuberger, University of Kansas Medical Center

Preventive Medicine and Public Health


Sonya Satinsky, Princeton University

Health Promotion and Prevention Services