Topics for a Research Paper for Physical Education

Updated November 21, 2016

You're in school and your gym teacher asks you to write a research paper. You are aghast, a research paper in physical education? You wonder if it can be done; you've never heard of such a thing. Yes, it is possible, but before you even begin you must pick your topic.


Brainstorming is one way to choose a topic for your paper. Get out a piece of paper and randomly write down anything you can think of related to physical education. As you write, you will find yourself attracted to one or two topics. Once you've finished, group your information. First, put your two topic choices at the top. Below each heading, write in those ideas from your brainstorming session that fit within that heading. Some will fit into both. That's OK. Also include any ideas that randomly come to you. Now look closely at the one that appeals the most to you. Ask yourself if you have enough ideas within the topic to write a complete paper and if the topic is within your research limits and abilities.


If you write about sports, there are many to choose from: Soccer, football, tennis, rugby, basketball and hockey only begin the list. And there are many ways to approach this topic. One is to pick a sport, write about its history, popularity, development, and pros and cons. Another is to choose a famous player or coach. Write a biography; include her upbringing, reasons she was drawn to that sport, what she did to become successful, how she first got into it, what her successes or failures were, what her future plans are and what she sees as the benefits and negatives of the sport. A third possibility is to write about a team. Research its history and development. Include important coaches and players, key losses and wins, its origin and its popularity.


You can write about the history of education. Find out when, why and where the first P.E. classes were offered. Compare the activities of these first classes to those offered now; give examples. Find out if the curriculum was or is gender-specific. Look into the activities offered by all-girls schools and all-boys schools at different points in time. Compare the average amount of time students spent in physical educations in past eras to now and, if there was a change, why the change occurred. This can be a broad topic. If, as you begin researching, you become overwhelmed by the amount of information you find, narrow your research to one particular aspect of its history.


Physical education classes typically have offered a wide variety of activities and lessons. Determine why certain activities are offered and whether the intent was satisfied. For example, find out why certain games are played; maybe it's to improve health, foster teamwork and cooperation, or maybe they're offered just because they're fun. For sports, what is the purpose of teaching sports? Maybe it's related to popularity, personal preference or to improving coordination and strength. Take a broader view and include the reason that gym classes have typically been part of the educational curriculum and whether their purpose has changed over time.


In recent years, students with special needs have entered the general education classrooms and the gym teacher finds himself in the unusual position of teaching an active gym class to students with motor disabilities, vision and hearing limitations and learning challenges. Sometimes these students come with personal aids; sometimes they do not. Research why the educational system began inclusion classes, whether they have been typically successful, how inclusion has affected the overall instructional methods of the teacher and the modifications necessary to teach P.E. to students with various ability levels.

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