Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences


Physical Education Teacher Education

Committee Chair

Eloise Elliott

Committee Co-Chair

Sean Bulger

Committee Member

Emily Jones

Committee Member

Christa Lilly

Committee Member

Sam Zizzi


Background/Purpose: This study was part of a three-year, multicomponent school-based health intervention implemented in two middle schools in an Appalachian county. The purpose of this study was to examine school students' perceptions of and responses to the inclusion of culturally relevant units in the physical education (PE) curriculum. Specifically, the study examined how less predisposed to be active (LPA) and more predisposed to be active (MPA) students perceived and responded to the inclusion of archery, mountain biking, and slacklining in PE. Methods: A mixed methods design was employed, in which the results of an initial quantitative phase served to identify LPA and MPA students to participate in a subsequent qualitative inquiry. Twelve focus groups were conducted (with a combined total of 47 students from one school) yielding qualitative data, which were analyzed through an inductive process. Results: Three overarching themes emerged from both LPA and MPA focus groups' data: (a) Expectations, (b) Engagement, and (c) Responses. Findings indicated that LPA and MPA participants had similar perceptions of and responses to the new units, with minor differences observed among LPA students. The three themes included a total of ten subthemes that depict students' thoughts, engagement, and responses to new units. These subthemes were aligned with the influencing factors of physical activity in children and adolescents outlined by the Youth Physical Activity Promotion Model (Welk, 1999). Conclusion: School-based physical activity programs at the middle school level should consider the influencing factors on physical activity and include content that is innovative, challenging, and relevant to the students, their community, and the culture in which they live.