Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Fitness testing in physical education classes has emerged as an important component in efforts to assess and address health concerns related to children’s physical inactivity. To date, motivational aspects of fitness testing, especially in regard to students’ future intention to participate in fitness-related activities, have not been closely examined. Fitness testing practices have been identified as a dominant discourse in physical education that continue to separate girls’ and boys’ physicalities along gendered lines. This lack of understanding about the motivational implications of fitness testing programs, coupled with concerns related to the gendered nature of fitness testing, emphasize the significance of this dissertation. The purpose of this dissertation was to investigate motivational and gendered aspects of fitness testing in physical education. The first quantitative study investigated students’ motivational orientations towards the President’s Challenge Physical Fitness Test [PCPFT] by comparing students who received awards with those who did not. Students who completed the PCPFT and received an award reported higher levels of task-involvement, perceived competence, effort, enjoyment, and future intention to participate in fitness testing programs than those who did not. The second quantitative study explored students’ motivation orientations, perceptions of the climate, and future intention to participate in fitness-related activities by comparing students who completed the PCPFT with those who completed FitnessGram. Students who participated in FitnessGram reported higher levels of task-involvement, perceived competence, and future intention to participate in fitness-related activities. The qualitative study investigated how students who participated in the two programs made sense of the gender disparities apparent across the tests, and two themes emerged. First, knowledge about gender-related conceptions of fitness was created by the students based on their schooling experiences, various modes of popular culture, familial expectations/roles, and historically-situated events that served to establish and perpetuate boys and girls as essentially different. Second, the students’ positioning within the two different testing programs allowed the students to produce knowledge and meaning that led to restricted bodily movements. This research extends the work of previous feminist and motivation scholars in the physical education domain and provides a basis for further study.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Melinda A. Solmon



Included in

Kinesiology Commons