Validation of an observation tool to assess physical activity-promoting physical education lessons in high schools: SOFIT+

Published:October 02, 2017DOI:



      SOFIT+ is an observation tool to measure teacher practices related to moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) promotion during physical education (PE). The objective of the study was to examine the validity of SOFIT+ during high school PE lessons.


      This cross-sectional, observational study tested the construct validity of SOFIT+ in boys’ and girls’ high school PE lessons.


      Twenty-one PE lessons were video-recorded and retrospectively coded using SOFIT+. Students wore hip-mounted accelerometers during lessons as an objective measure of MVPA. Multinomial logistic regression was used to estimate the likelihood of students engaging in MVPA during different teacher practices represented by observed individual codes and a combined SOFIT+ index-score.


      Fourteen individual SOFIT+ variables demonstrated a statistically significant relationship with girls’ and boys’ MVPA. Observed lesson segments identified as high MVPA-promoting were related to an increased likelihood of girls engaging in 5–10 (OR = 2.86 [95% CI 2.41–3.40]), 15–25 (OR = 7.41 [95% CI 6.05–9.06]), and 30–40 (OR = 22.70 [95% CI 16.97–30.37]) s of MVPA. For boys, observed high-MVPA promoting segments were related to an increased likelihood of engaging in 5–10 (OR = 1.71 [95% CI 1.45–2.01]), 15–25 (OR = 2.69 [95% CI 2.31–3.13]) and 30–40 (OR = 4.26 [95% CI 3.44–5.29]) s of MVPA.


      Teacher practices during high school PE lessons are significantly related to students’ participation in MVPA. SOFIT+ is a valid and reliable tool to examine relationships between PE teacher practices and student MVPA during PE.


      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • Tremblay M.S.
        • Gray C.E.
        • Akinroye K.
        • et al.
        Physical activity of children: a Global Matrix of Grades comparing 15 countries.
        J Phys Act Health. 2014; 11: S113-S125
        • Hallal P.C.
        • Andersen L.B.
        • Bull F.C.
        • et al.
        Global physical activity levels: surveillance progress, pitfalls, and prospects.
        Lancet. 2012; 380: 247-257
        • Farooq M.A.
        • Parkinson K.N.
        • Adamson A.J.
        • et al.
        Timing of the decline in physical activity in childhood and adolescence: Gateshead Millennium Cohort Study.
        Br J Sports Med. 2017; (Published Online First: 13 March)
        • Cooper A.
        • Goodman A.
        • Page A.
        • et al.
        Objectively measured physical activity and sedentary time in youth: the International Children’s Accelerometry Database (ICAD).
        Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2015; 12: 113
        • Institute of Medicine
        Educating the student body: taking physical activity and physical education to school.
        2013 (Available at: [Accessed 2 December 2016])
        • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
        Comprehensive school physical activity programs: a guide for schools.
        US Department of Health and Human Services, Atlanta, GA2013
        • UNESCO
        World-wide survey of school physical education. Final report 2013.
        UNESCO, Paris2014
        • Fairclough S.J.
        • Stratton G.
        Physical activity levels in middle and high school physical education: a review.
        Pediatr Exerc Sci. 2005; 17: 217-236
        • Fairclough S.J.
        • Stratton G.
        Effects of a physical education intervention to improve student activity levels.
        Phys Educ Sport Pedagogy. 2006; 11: 29-44
        • Hollis J.L.
        • Sutherland R.
        • Williams A.J.
        • et al.
        A systematic review and meta-analysis of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity levels in secondary school physical education lessons.
        Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2017; 14: 52
        • US Department of Health and Human Services
        Healthy People 2020.
        USDHHS, Washington DC2010
      1. Association for Physical Education. Health Position Paper. Available at [Accessed 2 December 2016].

        • McKenzie T.L.
        • Sallis J.F.
        • Nader P.R.
        SOFIT: System for Observing Fitness Instruction Time.
        J Teach Phys Educ. 1991; 11: 195-205
        • Weaver R.G.
        • Webster C.A.
        • Erwin H.
        • et al.
        Modifying the System for Observing Fitness Instruction Time to measure teacher practices related to physical activity promotion: SOFIT+.
        Meas Phys Educ Exerc Sci. 2016; 20: 121-130
        • Ridgers N.D.
        • Stratton G.
        • McKenzie T.L.
        Reliability and validity of the System for Observing Children’s Activity and Relationships During Play (SOCARP).
        J Phys Act Health. 2010; 7: 17-25
        • Evenson K.R.
        • Catellier D.J.
        • Gill K.
        • et al.
        Calibration of two objective measures of physical activity for children.
        J Sports Sci. 2008; 26: 1557-1565
      2. McKenzie TL. SOFIT: System for Observing Fitness Instruction Time. Description and procedures manual. Available at: [Accessed 2 December 2016].

        • Wang C.-H.
        • Chang C.-C.
        • Liang Y.-M.
        • et al.
        Open vs. closed skill sports and the modulation of inhibitory control.
        PLoS One. 2013; 8: e55773
        • Fairclough S.J.
        • Stratton G.
        Improving health-enhancing physical activity in girls’ physical education.
        Health Educ Res. 2005; 20: 448-457
        • McKenzie T.L.
        • Catellier D.J.
        • Conway T.L.
        • et al.
        Girls’ activity levels and lesson contexts in middle school PE: TAAG baseline.
        Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2006; 38: 1229-1235
        • McKenzie T.L.
        • Marshall S.J.
        • Sallis J.F.
        • et al.
        Student activity levels, lesson context, and teacher behavior during middle school physical education.
        Res Q Exerc Sport. 2000; 71: 249-259
        • Fairclough S.J.
        • Stratton G.
        ‘Physical education makes you fit and healthy’: physical education’s contribution to young people’s physical activity levels.
        Health Educ Res. 2005; 20: 14-23
        • Mosston M.
        • Ashworth S.
        Teaching physical education.
        Macmillan, New York1994
        • Doyle W.
        Classroom management.
        Kappa Delta Pi, West Lafayette, IN1980
        • Mersh R.
        • Fairclough S.J.
        Physical activity, lesson context and teacher behaviours within the revised English National Curriculum for Physical Education: a case study of one school.
        Eur Phys Educ Rev. 2010; 16: 29-45
        • Wallhead T.
        • Buckworth J.
        The role of physical education in the promotion of youth physical activity.
        Quest. 2004; 56: 285-301
        • Lubans D.R.
        • Lonsdale C.
        • Cohen K.
        • et al.
        Framework for the design and delivery of organized physical activity sessions for children and adolescents: rationale and description of the ‘SAAFE’ teaching principles.
        Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2017; 14: 24
        • Weaver R.G.
        • Webster C.A.
        • Egan C.
        • Campos C.M.C.
        • Michael R.D.
        • Vazou S.
        Partnerships for Active Children in Elementary Schools: Outcomes of a 2-Year Pilot Study to Increase Physical Activity During the School Day.
        Am J Health Promot. 2017; (Online First)
        • Trost S.G.
        • Loprinzi P.D.
        • Moore R.
        • et al.
        Comparison of accelerometer cut-points for predicting activity intensity in youth.
        Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2011; 43: 1360-1368
        • Kim Y.
        • Beets M.W.
        • Welk G.J.
        Everything you wanted to know about selecting the right Actigraph accelerometer cut-points for youth, but…: a systematic review.
        J Sci Med Sport. 2012; 15: 311-321