Dr. Sandra Gibbons

Dr. Sandra Gibbons
Exercise Science, Physical & Health Education

Dr. Sandra Gibbons is a Professor of Exercise Science, Physical & Health Education who specializes in girl-friendly physical and health education and incorporating social relatedness into physical activity. Her more recent work has involved working with teachers and the school system to help girls and young women become more physically active. Dr. Gibbons is a founding member of the Centre for Youth & Society. 

Dr. Gibbons has had a decorated career at the University of Victoria, receiving the Faculty of Education Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2001 and 2010 and the R. Tait MacKenzie Award from Physical and Health Education (PHE) Canada in 2012. She is also currently the Chair of Human Research Ethics Board for the University of Victoria.

Most of my work is with young women, physical activity behaviours, and helping young women become more physically active. I've learned over the years that young women in particular need to feel socially connected in order to value their physical activity experience. 

— Dr. Sandra Gibbons

Since 2004, Dr. Gibbons has spearheaded a project called Relatedness Supportive Strategies in Physical Education Classrooms for Adolescent Girls. Over the course of these 17 years, she has met annually with a group of physical and health education teachers from the Victoria area. Over the course of each year, the teachers undertake various projects individually with their classes, all with the common theme of making adolescent girls feel socially connected while partaking in physical activity. As teachers move on from the group, new teachers join, ensuring the longevity of the program. 

The teachers are working with different strategies in their physical education classes that address that relatedness, that social connection feeling. It's up to each teacher how they approach that. 

— Dr. Sandra Gibbons

Many teachers allow students to help design the class. Some teachers use peer teaching methods, others have their class take on a service project, some have created buddy programs with elementary classes, and, more recently, some have incorporated a nature-based aspect into their curriculum. Dr. Gibbons' PhD student, Jennifer Gruno, has been involved with the project for many years and is gradually taking over leadership from Dr. Gibbons. 

A series of three photos of young women. In the first, they are doing yoga on grass. In the second, they are climbing on a climbing wall. And in the third, they are hiking through the woods.
Each teacher undertakes various projects with their classes, all with the common theme of making adolescent girls feel socially connected while partaking in physical activity.

Recent publications

Gruno, J. & Gibbons, S.L. (2020). A review of adolescent girls’ experiences in school-based curricular physical activity through the lens of self-determination theory. International Journal of Physical Education, LVII (2), 12-33. 

Gruno, J. & Gibbons, S.L. (2020). Incorporating nature based physical activity in physical and health education. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, 91(3), 26-34.

Boudreau, P. & Gibbons, S.L. (2019). A Case Study of the Rick Climbing Self-Efficacy of High School Students. The Physical Educator, 76, 1046-1063. http://dx.doi.org/10.18666/TPE-2019-V76-I4-8948

More publications