Teachers’ perception and understanding of integrating physical activity and movement in the classroom and during schoolday with secondary school students.



Denmark had a new school reform in 2014 and one of the big differences is that all students have to be physically active for 45 minutes each day. The main purpose, supported by research, is to promote health (van Sluijs, McMinn, & Griffin, 2008), well-being (Ahn & Fedewa, 2011) and academic achievement (Rasberry et al., 2011) for all students. Teachers in Denmark are now trying to cope with the new policy and manage how to integrate physical activity and movement during lessons as active teaching, brain breaks etc.

It seems, however, that physical activity and movement has not been as great a part of the students’ school day as intended. The first studies from the National Institute of Municipalities and Regions Analysis and Research (KORA) shows that only 16% of teachers use movement every day in the classroom, 78% at least once a week, 20% rarely and 2% never (KORA, Jacobsen, Hønge, Og, & Søndergaard, 2015). The study also shows a difference between primary and secondary teachers. 67% of teachers in primary school use physical activity and movement at least twice a week. In secondary school it is just 36% of the teachers (KORA et al., 2015). The same trend is seen when asking students; The older the students, the less physically active they are during the school day. And generally, boys are more physically active than girls. A difference which increases with age (SFI, Nielsen, Hansen, Jensen, & Arendt, 2015).
From some internationally studies we know that teachers perceive a lack of time, space, knowledge and support (Benes, Finn, Sullivan, & Yan, 2016; Cothran, Kulinna, & Garn, 2010; Stylianou, Kulinna, & Naiman, 2016), but we do not know much about how teachers understand and experience the concept of movement and physical activity.

This research project investigates how teachers in Denmark perceive and manage the new requirements as a result of the reform, how teachers understand the concept of physical activity and movement during lessons and school day and if and how they find meaning in integrating movement during lessons and school day.

The project uses the case study as a research method (Flyvbjerg, 2010). The case study is ideal as it is designed to go deeper and develop knowledge in and about the specific situations and contexts rom different sources of data. The study collects data through focus group and individual interviews and through observations from four schools. Four schools are selected as cases from the principle of maximum variation compared to demographically diversity on the assumption that there may be differences in the barriers and opportunities regarding implementation of physical activity and movement. The use of schools which differ from one another also minimizes the risk of conditions being underexposed. At each school 3-4 teachers are selected. That gives a total of 13 informants at the four schools. The research questions will be answered through: a) observation of classroom lessons and the use of physical activity and movement in practice for students in secondary classes, b) a focus group interview at each school and c) semi-structured individual interviews with 13 teachers.