Date of Award


Document Type



Richard W.Riley College of Education

Degree Name

Master of Science

Thesis Advisor

Dr. Kathryn Davis

Committee Member

Dr. David Schary

Committee Member

Dr. Janet Wojcik


physical activity, gender, middle school, differences


In the last 35 years, the United States youth has experienced a significant rise in obesity levels, and a significant decline in physical activity levels (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2015a; CDC, 2009). A variety of research has been conducted on the implications of decreasing levels of physical activity (PA). However, theories are mixed on when this rapid decline of participation in PA is occurring. The purpose of this study was twofold: 1) to identify a significant gap in PA levels between females and males and 2) to identify the age/grade in which the projected discrepancy develops. The participants included 92 middle school students. Of the participants, 48% were female and 52% were male. The Physical Activity Questionnaire for Older Children (PAQ-C), a self-report measure of PA was administered to each participant during his/her regular physical education class. A one-way ANOVA was performed to determine differences in the participant’s general levels of PA by gender. The results indicated there were significant differences between genders for activity performed during physical education, for activity performed directly after school, for activity levels during the evenings, and for activity levels during the weekend. Significant differences were present between grade levels for activity performed directly after school, and for activity performed during the weekend. When participants reported their overall activity levels, there were no significant differences in the data. This contrast highlights the limitation of self-report data. The significant results are beneficial for school administrators and physical educators in identifying when to specifically implement interventions to target female inactivity as well as inactivity based on age. These targeted interventions could potentially decrease the threat of physical inactivity in late adolescence, by offering more physical education and other opportunities for physical activity tailored to time periods when adolescents need more PA.