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Two Pathways Underlying the Effects of Physical Education on Out-of-School Physical Activity

Yubing Wang and Ang Chen

rqes cover june 2020

One primary goal of physical education (PE) is to promote students’ lifelong physical activity (Corbin, 2002; Ennis, 2017). This goal implies that PE should not only improve students’ in-class physical activity (PA) behavior but also promote their PA behavior outside of the school. Green 2014) refers to the impact on out-of-school PA as the “PE effect” (p. 357). The “PE effect” is frequently cited by PE teachers and scholars and is often included in government policies across the world. Despite the wide citations of the “PE effect”, there is little research evidence documenting the “PE effect” due to the limited research on the connection between PE and out-of-school PA behavior.

To achieve the “PE effect”, one critical step is to understand the underlying mechanisms. To understand the mechanisms, two issues need to be addressed. The first is to identify key factors in PE that contribute to out-of-school PA behavior. The second is to understand the way these factors function (e.g., direct effect or indirect effect). In this study, we proposed a two-pathway model of the “PE effect”, as a priori, by synthesizing two existing theoretical models. We then set out to test the tenability of this two-pathway model.

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