Leadership Studies Ed.D. Dissertations


An Examination of the Perceptions of Online Physical Education: How Fit is Online PE?

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Mark Earley (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Susan Peet (Other)

Third Advisor

Julie McIntosh (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Patrick Pauken (Committee Member)


Online course delivery is becoming increasingly prevalent in K-12 education. With budget cuts and other financial difficulties facing our schools, many schools are employing online courses as a means of delivering curriculum. At the same time, time constraints are being imposed on students through increasing academic requirements. As a result of these realities, in addition to more traditional issues related to student resistance to physical education classes, more and more students are choosing to complete their physical education credit through online formats.

The purpose of this study was to explore the experience of students fulfilling their physical education credit requirement through an online format. Using a case study format, the researcher conducted interviews with high school students, their parents, and school administrators and physical education instructors, to collect data on the online physical education experience.

Recorded interviews were transcribed into narrative written format and multi-phased readings were conducted on the interview transcripts for the purpose of thematic analysis. Similarly coded language units were compared and grouped together in subsequent readings with individual units and clusters of units continually being reassessed for fit with the emerging coding structure which itself was open to modification throughout the process.

Results indicated that scheduling difficulties were the major reasons identified by participants as pursuing the online physical education option thus suggesting the “expendable” nature of brick-and-mortar physical education courses. In addition, while the online format offers a suitable mechanism for organizing and presenting physical education curricular content, participants demonstrated little understanding of physical literacy or an appreciation of the desirable long-term outcomes of the physical education curriculum. A third and final theme that emerged from the study is that, exclusive to online physical education, is a lack of accountability with the online option.