Facilitating physical education programs with andragogy
Callahan, Joseph R.
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Although there is substantial evidence showing the benefits of physical activity as well as recommendations for proper exercise prescription (ACSM, 2006), health educators are still searching for evidence to determine what helps people incorporate physical activity into their lives. Proposed over 40 years ago by Malcolm Knowles (1968), andragogy, or ―the art and science of helping adults learn,‖ (Knowles, 1980, p. 43) may help physical educators in their battle of increasing physical activity adoption and adherence among adults. The overall purpose of this dissertation was to explore the process of applying andragogy’s assumptions to adults in a physical activity setting. In the study, questionnaires, student interviews, and physical activity monitoring systems were used to determine whether an andragogically based course alters self-determination, daily physical activity, and overall satisfaction with the course. At the same time, the instructor’s perceptions of the andragogical model were also examined using an observation of the instructor’s journal in which the instructor logged her thoughts throughout the study. Students enrolled in a diet and exercise class at Texas Tech University were exposed to an andragogy-based (i.e. AG; n = 31) or traditional (i.e. CG; n = 22) teaching style. Both groups showed a significant increase in competence over time while neither group reported a significant difference in autonomy or relatedness. Compared to AG, CG was significantly more active on average; however there was no significant difference in total physical activity between the two groups. Course satisfaction measures resulted in no significant difference between the two groups. Student interviews within AG revealed an orientation to learning, although according to their exit interview, these needs were not well met. Compared to CG, the instructor reported a stronger feeling of relatedness with AG due to the real-world applications used in her teaching methods. Although not detrimental, the findings of this dissertation do not identify andragogy as being an optimal teaching method for adult physical education. Future studies with older adults, a larger sample size, and a distinctly different teaching style may be useful in revealing other conclusions.