Physical education graduation requirements in Oregon’s tertiary institutions
Physical activity behaviors tend to decline while weight gain and psychological distress tend to increase during college. Physical education requirements (PERs) can help college students acquire and practice healthy lifestyle skills while overcoming barriers to unhealthy behaviors, shaping positive and healthy future habits. The majority of colleges and universities in the U.S. throughout the 20th century developed and implemented PERs; however, in the early 21stcentury, they dropped to an all-time low of 39%. Since their all-time high of 97% during the 1920s/1930s, a downward trend has been observed. The purpose of this study was to examine the current status of PERs in Oregon’s 2-year and 4-year institutions (N = 35). Results revealed that only 14.29% (i.e., 5 of 35) of Oregon’s institutions fully required PERs, while 28.57% (i.e., 10 of 35) did not require PERs for graduation. The majority of the sample (57.14%; i.e., 20 of 35) partially required physical education courses, meaning that not all degrees offered at the institution listed a PER or it was an option among a list of choices. Whereas all 2-year colleges required partial (n = 17) PERs, the majority of 4-year institutions did not require PERs (n = 10). Given the downward trend, there is an urgent need for updated state and national data on the status of PERs in U.S. colleges. Such data could help those in kinesiology and other wellness-related disciplines better advocate for the continuation of PERs and/or to understand the factors associated with their successful continuation.
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