Teacher Perceptions of Obstacles to Physical Education Instruction: A Qualitative Inquiry

Bryan Capes
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Students need effective instruction to acquire physical skills leading to a healthy lifestyle. The problem this study addressed was U.S. public school physical education (PE) teachers being underprepared when attempting to deliver effective skill instruction, given numerous existing obstacles. A research gap existed on solutions to instructional obstacles, such as lack of real-world training for PE teacher candidates, overpopulated classes, and infrequent PE classes for students. Students need high-quality skill instruction during PE, but specific viable solutions to identified obstacles are not known. Transformational leadership and social cognitive theories were the theoretical frameworks used to investigate PE teachers’ perceptions of obstacles to delivering quality skill instruction, and possible solutions to overcome these obstructions. Research and interview questions were used to investigate perceived obstacles to quality PE instruction, characteristics of a model of instruction to solve these barriers, and support needed to deliver skill instruction effectively. The study was a phenomenological qualitative inquiry research design. The target population was K–12 U.S. public school PE teachers who were members of online Facebook groups designated for PE teachers. The sample size was 15. Due to the COVID-19 global pandemic protocols, semistructured interviews were conducted via Zoom software to seek answers to the research questions. Data were coded manually using Excel software. Structural coding was used to analyze collected data. Key results showed previously identified obstacles to effective PE instruction still exist in U.S. public schools. Findings from the study relate the need for collaboration among school leadership and stakeholders to address ongoing issues hindering health-enhancing instruction to students. Keywords: student engagement in PE, student enjoyment of PE, obstacles teachers face in PE, lack of PE teacher preparation, lack of quality instructional models for PE instruction, lack of student time in PE, assessment in PE, physical literacy in public schools, technology in PE, and large class sizes in PE