Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy



Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Kathleen Haywood


Dr. Phyllis Balcerzak

Dr. Natalie Bolton

Dr. Charles Granger



After students have taken years of science classes, they still believe science content is disconnected to the “real” world or to their lives. Teaching without attention to relevance results in decreased motivation for learning and negative attitudes toward science. An instructional method incorporating physical, sport-related activities was used to develop relevance and enhance achievement in science compared to typical/traditional science instructional methods. In the typical method, science lessons consisted of front-loading science content through direct instruction followed by a laboratory activity to confirm lesson content. The experimental teaching strategy used was “Relevance Integration for Teaching Science using Sports Exploration” (RITSSE) lessons. The impact of typical and RITSEE lessons on student learning and attitudes toward learning were compared and evaluated with daily lesson quizzes and monthly unit surveys. The RITSSE lessons consisted of using active engagement in a sports activity related to the science content, thus front-loading relevance followed by the typical science instruction. Eleventh and twelfth-grade students (n=16) attending a suburban Midwest high school an enrolled in a human physiology class participated in both lesson types. A case study assessed the benefit of active, sport related lesson design. Quantitative pre-and post-lesson quiz mean scores measured students’ science concept understanding. Quiz questions were categorized as using typical or RITSSE methodology. A two-tailed t-test was used to compare the mean scores of students’ pre-assessments with the mean scores from the post-assessments for each methodology. The combined twenty-one quiz questions related to typical methodology yielded a mean increase of 21.8% (+ 4.2 SD). The nineteen questions related to RITSSE instruction yielded a mean increase of 39.6% (+ 13.9 SD). The statistical difference between mean scores was determined to have a p-value where t (38) = 4.16, p < 0.01. It was concluded that the RITSSE methodology of integrating relevant sports activities: (1) increased science concept understanding compared to typical methodology, and (2) led to a moderate positive change in attitudes toward science.