Table_1_Elementary school staff perspectives on the implementation of physical activity approaches in practice: an exploratory sequential mixed method.DOCX (14 kB)
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Table_1_Elementary school staff perspectives on the implementation of physical activity approaches in practice: an exploratory sequential mixed methods study.DOCX

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posted on 2023-08-24, 04:04 authored by Timothy J. Walker, Christopher D. Pfledderer, Derek W. Craig, Michael C. Robertson, Natalia I. Heredia, John B. Bartholomew

A whole-of-school approach is best to promote physical activity before, during, and after school. However, multicomponent programming is often complex and difficult to deliver in school settings. There is a need to better understand how components of a whole-of-school approach are implemented in practice. The objectives of this mixed methods study were to: (1) qualitatively explore physical activity approaches and their implementation in elementary schools, (2) quantitatively assess implementation levels, and (3) examine associations between school-level physical activity promotion and academic ratings.


We used an exploratory sequential mixed methods design. We conducted semi-structured qualitative interviews with elementary school staff from a Texas school district and used a directed content analysis to explore physical activity approaches and their implementation. Using qualitative findings, we designed a survey to quantitatively examine the implementation of physical activity approaches, which we distributed to elementary staff district wide. We used Pearson correlation coefficients to examine the association between the amount of physical activity opportunities present in individual schools and school-level academic ratings.


We completed 15 interviews (7 principals/assistant principals, 4 physical educators, and 4 classroom teachers). Elementary school teachers and staff indicated PE and recess implementation was driven from the top-down by state and district policies, while implementation of classroom-based approaches, before and after school programming, and active transport were largely driven from the bottom-up by teachers and school leaders. Teachers and staff also discussed implementation challenges across approaches. Survey respondents (n = 247 from 22 schools) indicated 54.6% of schools were implementing ≥135 min/week of physical education and 72.7% were implementing 30 min/day of recess. Classroom-based approaches were less common. Twenty-four percent of schools reported accessible before school programs, 72.7% reported accessible after school programs, and 27% promoted active transport. There was a direct association between the number of physical activity opportunities provided and school-level academic ratings r(22) = 0.53, p = 0.01.


Schools provided physical activity opportunities consistent with a whole-of-school approach, although there was variability between schools and implementation challenges were present. Leveraging existing school assets while providing school-specific implementation strategies may be most beneficial for supporting successful physical activity promotion in elementary schools.