What’s Going on Out There? An exploration of K–12 PE Curricular Models and Content Taught in Public Schools


  • Michael Hodges William Paterson University
  • Michael Laughlin William Paterson University
  • Timothy Brusseau University of Utah




PETE, Curricular Models, Content, Units


Little is known about which curricular models and activity units are being taught in public schools. This exploratory study examined the K–12 physical education (PE) content and curricular models being implemented. Supervisors of PE recruited from one northeastern state participated in a 25-item questionnaire. Descriptive statistics and frequencies were calculated. Sixty-nine of 92 questionnaires were usable and included in the data analysis. Findings suggest that few districts were using a curricular model at the elementary (K–5) level (27%). Another common response of adopted curricular models at the elementary level was Movement Education (17.6%). At the secondary level, No Model (35%) and Fitness Education (25.6%) were common responses. Specific units such as volleyball, basketball, and weight training yielded the highest responses, while field hockey, golf, archery, lacrosse, and tennis yielded the fewest responses. The findings suggest that K–12 PE curricula may not reflect current trends and mandates. The key determinants could be a lack of curricular model use and heavy reliance upon activities known to present challenges toward standards-based education (i.e., softball). Perhaps K–12 PE and PE preparation programs can connect to effectively articulate a curriculum, and adopt and train on curricular approaches aiming to increase teacher effectiveness and reach national standards.

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Author Biographies

Michael Hodges, William Paterson University

Michael Hodges, Assistant professor & Program Director for the Physical Education K-12 Certification Program at William Paterson. Dr. Hodges served as Graduate Assistant prior to joining the William Paterson University in the Fall of 2013.  He comes with teaching experiences, as previously teaching two years K-8 physical education, and one year high school physical education.  Dr. Hodges has also coached multiple years of varsity football, baseball, and wrestling.  He played baseball collegiately, and football and baseball in high school.  Originally from Seattle, Dr. Hodges enjoys playing golf or volleyball, working out, watching movies, and attending sporting events.

His passion resides in physical education and training future teacher candidates.  He believes teacher candidates best learn through "doing" as he models effective methodologies, and providing students with situation teaching opportunities.  Dr. Hodges believes students should graduate with supurb abilities to manage students, and developing meaningful and positive relationships with students.  

His research interests include teacher effectiveness, health-related fitness knowledge instruction, and PETE preparation.  In addition, Dr. Hodges seeks opportunities to aid public school districts physical education programs in professional development and curriculum reform. 

Michael Laughlin, William Paterson University

Michael Laughlin earned his doctoral degree from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. Dr. Laughlin served as Assistant Professor and Adapted Physical Education Program Coordinator at the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater prior to joining the faculty at William Paterson University in the fall of 2015. Previous employment includes coaching high school soccer and teaching physical education, adapted physical education, and special education at the middle and high school level. A former division II collegiate athlete at the University of Charleston in West Virginia, his previous experiences centered on living and promoting a physically active culture from coast to coast. Despite having lived in six US states (CA, NJ, KY, WV, HI, WI), he credits early childhood days in northern New Jersey for nurturing his love and passion for physical activity. Dr. Laughlin enjoys spending time with his family, the outdoors, fishing, golf, and discovering pick-up soccer games across the globe.

A Certified Adapted Physical Educator (CAPE) for over 12 years, his teaching passion lies in preparing future physical educators for working with diverse and inclusive student populations. Research interests include effective and appropriate assessment practices for students with disabilities, teaching strategies for students with low incidence disabilities, and state/federal policy decisions for physical and adapted physical education. In addition, Dr. Laughlin is a strong advocate for promoting physically active opportunities for people with disabilities outside the school environment. This includes a secondary research agenda based on developing community partnerships, promoting and providing adapted sport and physical activity, transition opportunities for those leaving the school setting, and service learning experiences for his students.

Timothy Brusseau, University of Utah

Director of Kinesiology

Director of Physical Activity Research Lab

Associate Professor