Exercise & Sport Science as a rigorous science education: A guide for teachers of the discipline
The purpose of this project was to guide tertiary teachers of Exercise & Sport Science in ways that could improve the rigour of Exercise & Sport Science as a scientific discipline and lead to better learning outcomes for undergraduates.
Date - December 2010
Helen Hughes and Jonathan Hughes
A previous study that included a focus group with a final-year cohort of Bachelor of Science students majoring in Exercise & Sport Science at a New Zealand university reported that none of the participants considered themselves to be ‘scientists’ (Hughes, 2010). An international review of Exercise Science programmes by Ives and Knudson (2007) agree that graduates of undergraduate programmes in Exercise Science are not as prepared as they should be in order to provide professional and comprehensive advice on exercise and human performance.
|The purpose of this project was to guide tertiary teachers of Exercise & Sport Science in ways that could improve the rigour of Exercise & Sport Science as a scientific discipline and lead to better learning outcomes for undergraduates. The study set out to firstly define a rigorous science education at an undergraduate level. This was a qualitative study involving twenty-two experienced tertiary educators from a spectrum of science disciplines, countries and institutions. From the results of phase 1, six criteria for a rigorous science education were formulated from a process of thematic analysis.||
The objective of phases 2 and 3 of the project was to analyze Exercise & Sport Science in the context of a rigorous science education. In phase 2, interviews were undertaken with lecturers from inside and outside the Division of Exercise & Sport Science. Qualitative data was analysed through a process of thematic analysis. In phase 3, the six themes were used to develop a quantitative survey. This was circulated among graduates and lecturers of Exercise & Sport Science from one New Zealand university as a case study. The instrument underwent validity and reliability testing. Survey data was analyzed using SPSS; including descriptive statistics, along with independent and paired samples t-testing.
The key observation from this study is that Exercise & Sport Science has the potential to be a rigorous science education. In some instances, this was already seen to be the case. However, in other instances, there was seen to be room for improvement. A key recommendation is for programmes purporting to be Exercise & Sport Science to undergo an audit against the six teaching-oriented criteria proposed in this study, which have been labeled: Programme & Pedagogy; Generic Skills; Acquiring Knowledge; Applying Knowledge; Challenging Knowledge; and Investigating Knowledge. It is suggested that programmes unable to meet these criteria are differentiated from those that are.
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