Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Dr. Ellen Singleton



The purpose of this inquiry was to investigate the relationship between the beliefs of physical education teachers from one public secondary school in Ontario concerning physical activity and school-based physical activity opportunities. More concisely, did physical education teachers’ beliefs influence school-based physical activity opportunities and were there other social factors that influenced their engagement in these opportunities.

The method of inquiry was grounded in the academic literature that examined the characteristics of effective school cultures, and how culture was related to school-based physical activity opportunities. From this review, it showed that a post-positivism framework within a case study design and focused interview method would best fulfill study objectives.

To access participants’ beliefs, a previously validated and reliable survey helped physical education teachers and an administrator reflect on their beliefs around the relationship between school policies and practices and school-based physical activity opportunities. In addition, study participants designed mind maps to illustrate their beliefs about the factors that encouraged and/or inhibited their involvement in school-based physical activity opportunities. The data was synthesized according to Edgar Schein’s organizational culture model which gave credence to exploring the least tangible component of school culture, member beliefs.

Three central themes emerged: (i) the existing physical activity culture, (ii) the absence of a common definition of physical activity, and (iii) philosophical differences: strategies for promotion of school-based physical activity opportunities. The aforesaid factors were found to have the most influence on school-based physical activity opportunities at this secondary school.

Data analysis provided an understanding of the relationship between secondary school physical education teacher beliefs and active school cultures. Results suggested that when secondary school physical education teachers do not believe in school physical activity values and goals, school-based physical activity opportunities are not maximized, student physical activity interests are marginalized and the importance of physical education, intramurals and interschool athletics is not transferred to non-physical education staff and the student body.

This inquiry concluded that the development, maintenance and/or sustainability of a physically active secondary school culture is largely dependent on the beliefs of its physical activity leaders.