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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Toward the successful integration of female immigrant students into secondary physical education classes Schwab, Maria T.


This two-part study provides a two-faceted analysis of female immigrant students' experiences in secondary physical education classes, together with an analysis of the discourse they use to express their feelings about these experiences. This information is needed to facilitate the process of integrating female immigrant students into mainstream physical education classes so they have the opportunity for successful and full participation in these classes. Recent research questions whether immigrant females are receiving equitable treatment in curriculum planning and in physical education classes. My research addresses this issue and should be of interest to those professionals involved in the instruction, design, and promotion of physical education and physical activity programs in which female immigrant students are involved. The purpose of the first part of this study was to assess the attitudes of female immigrant students toward physical education class and their participation rates in physical activities outside of physical education class. Measures were taken to determine whether attitudes and participation rates differed depending on ethnic background, religion, English proficiency, number of years in Canada and achievement levels. The purpose of the second part of this study was to gain an understanding of how ESL students use language to express their attitudes, opinions and feelings about physical education and to identify the main issues E S L female immigrant students saw as being barriers to their success in mainstream physical education classes. In order to fulfill the purposes of this study, two types of measuring instruments were developed and two sets of data were collected. First, a questionnaire that obtained background information from subjects and measured their attitudes toward physical education and their participation rates in physical activity was developed and administered. Second, cooperative activities designed to generate language on attitudes toward physical education class were developed. Quantitative data were obtained from the questionnaire and qualitative data were obtained from the language activities subjects were led through. Results from the quantitative questionnaire indicated that 26% of the female immigrant sample had limited background experience in physical education class when they arrived in Canada. Students felt mildly positive about taking physical education class in Canada but less positive than when taking physical education in their native countries. Subjects spent about two hours a week on physical activity in Canada, slightly less than they spent in their native country. While 86% of the subjects participated in some physical activity in Canada, only eight to 16% participated in exercise at a level likely to have a positive impact on their cardiovascular health. When subjects lived in Canada, there was no significant difference in subjects' attitudes toward physical education depending on their ethnicity, religion, English language proficiency or number of years in Canada. There was also no significant difference in subjects' participation rates in physical activity depending on religion. Ethnicity did, however, have a significant effect on participation rates in physical activity and participation rates increased significantly as students' English language proficiency improved and as students spent more time in Canada. Also, attitudes toward physical education class were strongly related to achievement in physical education while participation rates in physical activity were not. Results from the qualitative portion of the thesis focused on how students articulated their feelings on physical education. Analyzed language data showed that ESL students had limited lexicogrammatical resources to describe their feelings, behaviours and reactions. An analysis of the value judgments made showed that students had varying abilities to support their judgments with good reasons. The issue students discussed most often was that English language problems prevented them from communicating with other students and resulted in them disliking physical education and doing poorly. Another issue of great concern for these E S L students was how difficult it was for them to pair up with native speaking partners. Students felt physical education teachers could do more to assist students with limited proficiencies in English and recommended many good teaching strategies for this purpose. As a result of this study, physical education and ESL teachers are encouraged to implement strategies which help female immigrant students integrate more successfully into physical education classes. It is essential that teachers respect the linguistic, cultural, racial and religious diversities of their students. Teachers should also include students' heritages in the curriculum as this leads to greater school achievement and to students feeling more highly valued. By using specific cooperative learning strategies, . teachers can orchestrate positive interactions between students in their classes in a structured way. By using the knowledge framework to teach language, content and thinking skills to ESL students, teachers can minimize English language demands and access students' first language knowledge. By teaching critical thinking skills, teachers can help students evaluate present situations accurately and make good choices such as establishing how to function in physical education classes more successfully. By teaching ESL students the discourse of value judgments and choice, teachers can help them effectively communicate their feelings and explain their viewpoints using institutionally adequate reasons. ESL and physical education teachers should encourage immigrant females to become involved in extracurricular sport and exercise activities and actively find or create opportunities for their inclusion. The benefits for new immigrant students include developing English language competencies, making friends, improving psychomotor skills, becoming more competent in sports, and feeling better about their abilities. This study developed a perspective on one aspect of new female immigrant students' education and led to a more sophisticated understanding of the physical education of immigrant students. There is a great need for more studies that examine the experiences of new immigrant female adolescents in sport and exercise.

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