BACKGROUND: This study was conducted to empirically evaluate specific human, curricular, and material resources that maximize student opportunities for physical activity during physical education (PE) class time. A structure-process-outcome model was proposed to identify the resources that influence the frequency of PE and intensity of physical activity during PE. The proportion of class time devoted to management was evaluated as a potential mediator of the relations between resource availability and student activity levels.
METHODS: Data for this cross-sectional study were collected from interviews conducted with 46 physical educators and the systematic observation of 184 PE sessions in 34 schools. Regression analyses were conducted to test for the main effects of resource availability and the mediating role of class management.
RESULTS: Students who attended schools with a low student-to-physical educator ratio had more PE time and engaged in higher levels of physical activity during class time. Access to adequate PE equipment and facilities was positively associated with student activity levels. The availability of a greater number of physical educators per student was found to impact student activity levels by reducing the amount of session time devoted to class management.
CONCLUSION: The identification of structure and process predictors of student activity levels in PE will support the allocation of resources and encourage instructional practices that best support increased student activity levels in the most cost-effective way possible. Implications for PE policies and programs are discussed.