Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Eugene Thompson

Second Advisor

Dr. Uldis Smidchens

Third Advisor

Dr. Billye A. Cheatum


‘The period of early childhood is a crucial time for the balanced, optimal development of the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains of human behavior” (McClenahan & Gallahue, 1978, p. 5) According to noted authorities in the field of physical education such as Cratty (1979), and Roach and Kephart (1966), who have conducted large scale investigations of normal motor development of children, early elementary students are at a crucial point in motor development. When discussing the interaction between physical activity and growth, Shepherd (1982) stated that preschool and early elementary school students should develop basic motor skills which are prerequisite to performing mature physical and academic tasks. Shepherd also stated that children who lag behind in motor development will still lag behind in later grades. Corbin (1980), another noted researcher in the field of motor development,called motor development an “integral part of total human development” (p. ix)

According to Gabbard and LeBlanc (1986), who have conducted research to set standards for the physical fitness of young children, elementary students need more physical education programs than are currently offered; however, schools are providing less. Early elementary students are receiving an average of thirty six hours in physical education per year according to a study conducted by the Michigan Exemplary Physical Education Programs Committee (Cavanaugh, 1989). Edgar Leon, (1990) Physical Education Consultant for the Michigan State Department of Education reported in an interview that often, physical education programs in elementary schools are provided by the classroom teacher who has had only one college course in physical education. Finally, a review of the Michigan Essential Goals and Objectives for Physical Education (State Board of Education, 1990) reveals that most of the outcomes expected from early elementary physical education are specific sport lead up skills rather than fundamental movement skills, which are necessary for everyday living and classroom success.

The purpose of the study was to determine whether or not the physical education needs of early elementary school students are being met through current physical education programs available in Michigan public schools. Data were collected from two sources. First, five nationally recognized textbooks in the area of physical education were identified. From the textbooks, the areas of physical education which should be emphasized, recommended about of time, recommended equipment and caseloads were listed. Secondly, a survey, designed by the researcher, of 574 teachers providing physical education for early elementary students was conducted to ascertain current data about the areas of physical education listed above in the state of Michigan.

After the data were collected, a comparison was made between what the physical education needs of early elementary students are, according to noted authorities, and what physical education programs consist of currently. If a difference was found the implication was that physical education programs were not related to the needs of early elementary school children; therefore, the programs should be reviewed for modification. The results and conclusions were presented in manner which may help school administrators and physical educators develop solutions to updating physical education programs for early elementary school students.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access