Students' Perceptions of Physical Education Teachers' Caring


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Virginia Tech


The concept of caring is reported to be an important factor in the teacher-student relationship. However, this concept has not been widely explored in the context of the teacher-student relationship in physical education. The purpose of this study was to gain insights into students' perceptions of physical education teachers' caring. The researcher sought to describe the perceptions students had in regard to caring behaviors exhibited by their physical education teachers.

Twelve eighth-grade students from a local middle school in Southwest Virginia participated in this study. The research questions were investigated using a qualitative research design that included semi-formal interviews and field observations.

The results indicated that multiple opportunities existed for the physical education teachers to demonstrate caring behaviors toward their students. The students described their perceptions of physical education teachers' caring along dimensions of content and pedagogy and interpersonal relationships. The researcher determined that factors existed that facilitated and presented barriers to the caring process. Facilitators of caring in physical education included the nature of the class, flexibility in teacher expectations, and class activities. Barriers to caring were revealed as length of time with the teacher, student personalities, role of the teacher/coach, and class size. Furthermore, physical education teachers' caring was determined to be a positive factor in students' attitudes toward physical education and their participation in physical education class. The results did not indicate a clear pattern of responses based on the skill level of each participant. Directions for future research on the concept of caring as it relates to physical education are discussed.



middle school students, perceived caring, Education