A Cultural Approach to Promoting Physical Activity in Secondary Schools


  • Gregory D. Rickwood Nipissing University
  • Ellen Singleton University of Western Ontario


Cultural, Social, Pedagogical


This case study examined the influence of physical education teacher beliefs on school-based physical activity opportunities.  Seven teachers from one secondary school in southwestern Ontario were asked about their beliefs concerning school practices and policies that influenced student enrolment in physical education classes, and student and teacher participation in leisure time intramurals and inter-murals.  Collectively, participants discussed the importance of supportive guidance counselors that promoted physical education courses to students beyond the mandatory grade nine; hiring new teachers with a sport background and/or genuine interest in promoting physical activity; and matching intramural and inter-mural sport opportunities to student interests when attempting to maximize school-based opportunities for physical activity.  In turn, these teachers believed their efforts to advance physical activity at the school were negligible when the aforementioned practices were not engrained into the school’s cultural system.   

Overall, this inquiry found that if physical education teachers’ beliefs about the policies and practices perceived to accentuate the physical activity culture of the studied school were not acknowledged and/or accepted by school leaders (i.e. principal, vice-principals, guidance counselors, department heads), motivation to promote and participate in school-based physical activity opportunities waned, and the number and quality of physical activity opportunities diminished.  

Author Biographies

Gregory D. Rickwood, Nipissing University

Assistant Professor

Schulich School of Education

Nipissing University

Ellen Singleton, University of Western Ontario

Associate Professor

Faculty of Education

University of Western Ontario






Feature Articles / Articles de fond