Effect of a Physical Education Teacher’s Age on Middle School Students’ Perceptions of Effectiveness and Learning


  • Colin G. Pennington Cornell College
  • Matthew Curtner-Smith The University of Alabama
  • Stafanie Wind The University of Alabama




physical education, aging, effectiveness, middle school


This study examined the effect of a physical education teacher’s apparent age on middle school students’ learning and perceptions of the teacher. Two hundred seventy-three middle school students were randomly assigned to view one of two virtually identical films of swimming lessons taught by the same teacher. During the youngappearance lesson (YAL), the teacher taught as his usual and relatively young self. During the middle-aged lesson (MAL), he was made to look older by a makeup artist. After viewing their assigned lesson, students completed an examination covering the content of the lesson and a questionnaire about their perceptions of the teacher. Inferential statistical tests revealed that students who watched the YAL learned more from the teacher and perceived the teacher more favorably. These results support a sociological explanation of how and why students respond to and learn from physical education teachers of different ages.

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Author Biographies

Colin G. Pennington, Cornell College

Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Kineisology

Matthew Curtner-Smith, The University of Alabama

Professor, Department of Kinesiology

Stafanie Wind, The University of Alabama

Assistant Professor, Measurement and Evaluation