Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2011


This study grounded in constructivist theory and the public health literature investigated Native American children's knowledge related to physical activity and healthy behavior concepts. Learning tends to be more meaningful and relevant when teachers take into consideration the students' knowledge and experiences. Therefore it is important to know more about students' context-specific knowledge in order to build upon their understanding in culturally appropriate ways at school to help them develop the skills, knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors needed to live healthy and active lives. Elementary school students (N = 262) from two different Native American communities in the Southwestern United States shared their understanding of physical activity and healthy behavior. Students completed three to six health-related physical activity and healthy behavior portfolio tasks. Student knowledge varied significantly across portfolios, running the gamut from 53% of the students having a perfect score on drawing their favorite activity that helps them become fit to only 2% of students scoring full points on explaining aerobic fitness. MAN OVA results suggested that there were some grade level differences by portfolio tasks. In general, students performed better as they got older. Students had minimal success and demonstrated little understanding of physical activity and healthy behaviors concepts as well as expressed some misconceptions. Native American children participating in this study had similar levels of understanding of basic concepts as previously studied children with diverse ethnic backgrounds.

Publisher Statement

Physical Educator Spring2011, Vol. 68 Issue 2, p66

Included in

Kinesiology Commons