Date of Conferral
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
Studies of the effects of students playing sports in high school vary but results are mostly positive. This qualitative case study examined the perceptions of 15 teachers at a small rural Iowa high school to assess how they viewed the effects of sports participation on student athletes in the classroom and why the setting experienced a decline in participation numbers. The framework that drove this study was based on Pajares's concept that teacher expectations may influence students and their academic performance and behaviors. The data included individual interviews from 15 teachers and teacher/coaches who had a minimum of 5 years teaching experience and had student athletes in their classrooms. The interviews were transcribed and analyzed for emergent themes. Findings revealed that increased academic performance, learned leadership traits, and teamwork were the perceived benefits to sports participation. Missed class time and stressful time requirements on student athletes were the perceived detriments. Findings also indicated that a need for more cohesiveness better and communication between teachers and teacher/coaches, and a need for higher eligibility standards for student athletes to participate in athletics. These findings were used to develop a policy recommendation project that will update and overhaul the district's current athletic eligibility policy. This project will enable more students to participate in athletics and remain eligible for sports participation and additional tutoring. Social change could result from increased participation in athletics, improved academic performance, and greater cohesion among teachers at the school.