Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education



First Advisor

Partridge, Julie


African-American females are the least active segment of the population during their high school years (Bush et al., 2004), with a decline in activity nearly twice that of Caucasian girls (Kimm et al., 2002). Differences in activity choice and participation are observed among ethnic groups during adolescence (Goldsmith, 2003), and given that parents serve as role models, providers, and as interpreters of sport and physical activity experiences (Eccles & Harold, 1991), it is important to examine whether parents perceive certain activities to be more culturally appropriate than others. African-Americans may ascribe different values to physical activity, and may have the desire to reject the dominant culture's "white identity" (Corbett & Calloway, 2006). The purpose of this study was two-fold. The first purpose was to explore the types of value mothers of high school age African-American girls place on sport and physical activity participation. The second purpose was to gain a better understanding of the mother's social perceptions of what activities are culturally appropriate for their daughters. Three research were explored: (1) What values do mothers of African-American adolescent girls place on sport and physical activity?, (2) Are certain sport/activities considered by African-American mothers to be more culturally appropriate than others?, and (3) What common characteristics do culturally appropriate activities possess? Semi-structured interviews were conducted with mothers of sport participants, sport non-participants, and participants in activities involving physical activity (e.g. dance, step). Eccles' comprehensive model (1998) was a highly relevant theoretical framework through which to view the socialization of African-American females' activity choices. The subjective task value associated with an activity is comprised of utility value, interest value, attainment value, and cost (Eccles & Harold, 1991). Each of the four types of value identified by Eccles' theory was supported by the data in study. Respondents ascribed each type of value to sport/physical activity regardless of their daughters' participation. Utility value for sport and physical activity was characterized by health/appearance, occupying time/staying out of trouble, and sport as opportunity for scholarships and career opportunities. Interest value was characterized by affiliation, perceived acceptance, and mothers' physical activity/sport experience and family structure. Attainment value was characterized by self-perceptions, and cost was characterized by money, academics/time, injury, and appearance. Finally, in order for an activity to an activity to be deemed culturally appropriate, it must be accessible, provide opportunities for relatedness, and be perceived to be culturally appropriate by other members of the culture.




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