Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Christina Dawson


Research confirms inactivity increases in adolescence and that unfit youth are at risk of acquiring cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity, or other significant physical disorders later in life. Thus, the purpose of this phenomenological study was to describe the experience of chronically inactive children who were exposed to an exercise intervention program. The specific focus of the research was to better understand the essential educational needs of the participants and the effective elements of the program, Moving for Fun (MFF), a 7-week after-school fitness intervention program designed to modify chronic inactivity. Open-ended interviews and 3 observations were conducted with 8 middle school students (4 males and 4 females) identified as scoring low on a standardized assessment protocol of health-related physical fitness. Interview data were transcribed and coded using a combination of open and a priori coding to extract significant statements that were analyzed into clusters of meaning that described key elements of the students' experience. Video-taped observations were analyzed to use behaviors during MFF activities as a means of checking interpretations of the interview data. Interpretation of the final structural analysis suggested that students did not have a good understanding health-related fitness or how it is achieved; however they enjoyed participating in inclusive physical activity, and were planning to add more physical activity to their lives. Recommendations include an examination of physical activity programming and an increase in programs that serve participants with varied needs. Developing more student-centered programs that teach or include fitness education can decrease the number of students lacking physical fitness and increase the population of those who carry fitness activities and better health with them into the future.