Kinesiology Strategic Plan

Department of Kinesiology 2014-2019

Mission

The Department of Kinesiology is committed to providing outstanding learning opportunities for students, new and innovative discoveries through research, and high impact service and outreach activities to the field and the community. Our central focus is the study of physical activity as it ranges from basic mechanisms of human movement to the complex dynamics of physical activity in the context of human health and well-being. Our scholarship is pursued from multiple perspectives, such as: cells to societies, using basic, clinical, social science, and humanities methodologies.

Vision

Over the next five years we will strive to improve our research productivity by enhancing our internal research culture and adding new faculty who build on existing strengths and promote research synergies. Our undergraduate program will undergo changes to improve accountability, increase efficiency, and enhance responsiveness to 21st century students’ needs. Our service and outreach efforts will highlight engaged scholarship experiences and be better integrated with our research and teaching with the goal of positively impacting the health and well-being of our Penn State and surrounding community.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans

The physical activity objectives for Healthy People 2020 - a national health promotion and disease prevention initiative - highlight that more than 80 percent of U.S. adults and adolescents fail to meet the guidelines for aerobic and muscle strengthening activities.

A key strength of the Department of Kinesiology is our multidisciplinary approach to the study of human movement and physical activity. This makes our department central to the College’s mission and well-positioned to continue to play an important role in advancing human health. Defined as “any bodily movement that involves skeletal musculature and increases energy expenditure above rest,” the physical activity spectrum involves single limb movements to activities of daily living as well as exercise for improvement of health and well-being, rehabilitation from injury, disability and disease, and training for athletic performance.

Optimal physical activity function includes all aspects of this spectrum, and limitations of activity along any part of the spectrum are associated with health problems, functional deficits, and declines in well-being.

Our strategic plan is organized around three themes:

  1. Educational accountability
  2. Research and scholarship synergies
  3. Engaged scholarship to enhance student health

Educational accountability translates into a departmental focus on making our resident instruction curriculum efficient and flexible for our students, while facilitating the empowerment of students to make smart choices throughout their matriculation. We will also focus on providing more student support around issues of professional and ethical conduct, connections with alumni, and student health and well-being.

We will also revise our Kinesiology Physical Activity Program (KPAP) to position it to play an important role in the new general education curriculum, particularly around the issue of student health. These latter efforts to revise our undergraduate offerings and our degree of student support in an effort to increase our “accountability” are underscored by the fact that our department influences more Penn State students’ lives than any other academic unit apart from the World Campus.

Kinesiology enrolls more undergraduates at University Park than any other major, provides general education courses to more than 8,000 students per year, and offers courses at 19 Commonwealth Campuses and on the World Campus. Our goal is to optimize our curriculum for this large number of students and in doing so respond to the growing pressures on higher education to increase accountability for success in learning and improve affordability.

Regarding research and scholarship synergies, we recognize that our research funding has declined in recent years, and we will be proactive in strengthening our internal research culture while seeking to capitalize on opportunities that create research synergies with other units within and outside the College of Health and Human Development (HHD). A key strength that we hope to leverage in these efforts is our expertise in the neural, physiological, biomechanical, and behavioral sciences as they pertain to human movement, physical activity, and health. We will also make concerted efforts to improve our top rated graduate program by using new recruitment strategies, expanding professional development and curricular opportunities

Educational Accountability

GOAL:

Recognizing that our department influences more University Park (UP) students’ lives than any other academic unit as Kinesiology majors and through general education, we plan to optimize educational experiences in Kinesiology for the 21st century learner using a student centered approach that emphasizes educational accountability.

ACTIONS:

  • Hire six new tenure track faculty and four new instructors for resident instruction
  • Revise the resident instruction curriculum to include more selective recruitment, increased efficiency, innovative opportunities for active learning, and evidence based strategies to enhance student learning
  • Work with the Harrisburg/York, Altoona, and Behrend campus faculty to ensure a successful P3 process
  • Integrate technology in and out of the classroom to enhance student learning and facilitate delivery of the curriculum to UP and campus students (i.e., presence on World Campus, E-Learning Cooperative, Angel and use of technology in practiced based settings).
  • Increase Kinesiology offerings on the World Campus
  • Develop strategies to facilitate students’ responsibility and accountability for their education, professional development, and personal health
  • Adapt the Kinesiology Physical Activity Program to play an important role in the new landscape of General Education at Penn State
  • Secure resources for a full time website technician to improve accessibility to information about curriculum and educational opportunities
  • Secure resources to develop new and existing courses and online and to introduce new technology in practice based settings
  • Revise our departmental website to feature unique aspects of our undergraduate resident instruction program and our KPAP program, and include consolidated content for specific use by current and future students

Research and Scholarship Synergies

GOAL 1:

Increase our research capacity by building on and leveraging our expertise in the neural, physiological, biomechanical, and behavioral mechanisms underlying human movement and physical activity-induced health benefits by galvanizing our internal resources while capitalizing on opportunities for synergism.

ACTIONS:

Leverage our unique strength in the study of mechanisms underlying human movement, physical activity, and health interventions to attract new resources and new collaborators

Hire new faculty that build on existing strengths but bring potential for synergies within and outside our department. Example areas of focus where we have a critical mass include:

  • Physical activity and health across the lifespan
  • Motivation and physical activity behavior
  • Neuroscience/brain and human movement
  • Women’s health
  • Aging
  • Explore opportunistic faculty hires when there are synergies that will strengthen our research portfolio
  • Explore opportunities for seed funding and other support for biomedical research
  • Facilitate integration of our faculty with new and existing units in and outside of HHD
  • Enhance our internal research culture through development of internal peer review, increased recognition of research accomplishments, direction of additional resources to research efforts
  • Revise our departmental website to showcase our research strengths to potential colleagues, students, donors, and other stakeholders

GOAL 2:

Further enhance our No. 1 ranked graduate program to improve research productivity and include more experiences and opportunities that reflect greater integration and enhanced professional development.

ACTIONS:

  • Explore and secure new funding opportunities for students through partnerships with KPAP, Center for Fitness and Wellness (CFW), reciprocal arrangements with IGDP’s, and possibly the HHD Development office.
  • Increase graduate student diversity via proactive recruitment efforts (e.g. Healthy People Penn State, GRE database search)
  • Increase graduate course offerings
  • Enhance professional training and development opportunities by participating in the CTSI dual-title Ph.D. program and by fostering connections with colleagues and Kinesiology alumni in industry and other careers outside academe.
  • Revise our department website to feature research accomplishments of our graduate students
  • Engaged Scholarship to Improve Health

GOAL:

Expanding on our Exercise is Medicine (EIM) initiative and the activities of our CFW, our service and outreach efforts will prioritize service learning and engaged scholarship experiences to translate new knowledge to improve the health of Penn State students and our community.

ACTIONS:

  • Integrate the translation of new knowledge about physical activity and health throughout our service and outreach activities
  • Explore opportunities to integrate and expand our EIM and CFW activities to include other University and community stakeholders, including the hiring of an outreach coordinator
  • Revise our departmental website to include pages devoted to EIM and CFW, and to feature other unique opportunities for engaged scholarship

Departmental Focus on Spectrum of Physical Activity

The growing need for individuals to adopt a physically active lifestyle as part of taking responsibility for one’s health is obvious given the high prevalence of non-communicable disease and rising health care costs. Released in 2008, the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans identify the strength of science supporting the health benefits of regular physical activity across the lifespan. Interest in the promotion of physical activity to prevent disease and disability and its role in rehabilitation from injury comes from multiple disciplines and has expanded beyond the individual to the workplace, the community, and to local, state, and federal policy makers.

Given the importance of physical activity to health and physical function, our department’s centrality to the College’s and University’s focus on human health is evident.

Statistics:

History: The Department is in its 106th year. It was established in 1908 as the “Department of Physical Education”

Scope: Kinesiology four year degree program exist at University Park and Berks Campuses; Kinesiology courses taught at 19 Commonwealth Campuses and on the World Campus

University Park Faculty: As of spring 2014, forty-three and a half full time (24.5 tenure track, one research, twelve instructors (resident instruction), six instructors

Kinesiology Physical Activity Program (KPAP): two part time instructors (resident instruction), thirty to thirty-five part time instructors (KPAP)

University Park Staff: eight administrative, four advising, three research services, one information technology (CHHD), one website assistant (dept.)

Research Areas: Athletic training and sports medicine, biomechanics, exercise physiology, history and philosophy, motor control, psychology of movement and sport

Undergraduate Program: 2012/2013; 923 majors (No. 1 at University Park; includes Athletic Training Majors), 385 pre majors, and 161 minors

Majors: Kinesiology and Athletic Training

Options: Kinesiology -- Movement Science, Fitness Studies, which closed summer 2014), Physical and Health Education Teacher Education, Exercise Science (Berks)

General Education: Kinesiology Physical Activity Program (KPAP)

Student Credit Hours produced: spring 2013: Total 15,712 (undergraduate 10,082, graduate 296, KPAP 5334)

Graduate Program: sixty-four students (44 Ph.D., 10 M.S., 10 IGDP)

Post-doctoral Fellows/Scholars: seven

Visiting Scholars: eleven

Increased Demand for Kinesiology Education

The Department of Kinesiology offers two majors: Kinesiology, and Athletic Training. Within the Kinesiology major, students explore either the movement science option (our largest), the fitness studies option (to close to new students in summer 2014), the physical and health education teacher Education program (PHETE), or the Exercise Science option (Berks campus).

The demand for a Kinesiology education has experienced a dramatic increase in the last five to seven years. Enrollments in Kinesiology undergraduate programs across the country have been increasing, likely due to the high demand for allied health professionals, fitness and wellness trainers and coaches, and other Kinesiology related careers.

The popularity of this major has been recognized by the Core Council and the Office of the Vice President for the Commonwealth Campuses, as Kinesiology was designated as one of several HHD undergraduate majors to be shared at three Commonwealth Campuses through the P3 mechanism. At the time of our last strategic plan in 2008, our undergraduate enrollment for fall semester was 785 full time students (12 credits or greater) at UP. For 2012-2013, our numbers are even higher, having increased to 923 students. Our enrollment for 2012-2013 represents 19.65 percent of the enrollment for CHHD, and 2.33 percent of the University enrollment. Since 2008 the number of Kinesiology minors has increased, from 86 to 161 in 2012-2013. Additionally, we recorded approximately 385 pre-majors in Kinesiology.

Increased Educational Accountability

Higher education is facing increasing pressure to be accountable, both fiscally and where student learning is concerned. Efforts should be made to reduce barriers to students receiving a high quality and economical education at Penn State. This entails ensuring that there is informed decision making, adequate availability and sequencing of classes, and efficient progress toward graduation.

A more responsive and responsible curriculum

Against this background, we plan to take a two pronged approach to improving accountability with our undergraduate program. The first prong involves the steps the department will take to be more accountable for providing a quality educational experience for our students. In our undergraduate curriculum, we have identified many issues that need to be addressed:

  • An effective, and evidenced based program of assessment of student learning outcomes
  • A desire for an innovative new option that prepares students for careers in the fitness and wellness industry, teaching, and coaching
  • A need for more lower level core courses taught at the campuses
  • More consistency with pre requisites and “c or better” courses among options
  • A need for more hands on applied and laboratory experiences
  • A need for more flexibility and a smaller core
  • A need to reduce administrative burden and improve impact of our series of practicum courses
  • A need to improve ties with our alumni with the goal enhancing both curricular and professional development opportunities for our students.

We will revise our curriculum to enhance student learning and improve efficiency and flexibility, while addressing issues of sequencing and accessibility to lower level core courses. Our advising office will implement strategies to improve communication with commonwealth campus advisors so that campus students are making the smartest choices at an earlier point in their matriculation.

They will also implement strategies to reach a more diverse and greater population of Kinesiology students. A major change to our curriculum will be the addition of a new option that will replace the old “fitness studies” option, which closes to new students in summer 2014. The goal of this new option will be to provide opportunities for students interested in careers in fitness and wellness, coaching, and teaching health and physical education. A key element of this new option will be an emphasis on preparing students to sit for one of several professional certifications in their area of interest.

This option will complement our movement science option, which prepares students for additional graduate work in kinesiology related fields, medical school, and allied health professions. It will represent a second option, in addition to our Athletic Training major, that helps to prepare students for a career right after graduation.

Student Well-being

Another way our department will improve its accountability to our resident instruction students is to take a more active role in improving their health and well-being. Given the central role of health in our departmental focus, and our broad influence on Penn State students, we have the potential to make a positive impact in this regard. Recent tragedies involving the deaths of two Kinesiology students, combined with a nationwide trend of increased student mental health morbidity, high rates of reported assault, violence, and drug and alcohol abuse by Penn State Students (PSU Pulse Survey) and limitations to on campus mental health resources (CAPS), have motivated us to assume a greater responsibility for monitoring at risk student behaviors. We will develop a secure, online "be vulnerable" student surveillance system.

The goal will be to enhance department oversight of students who exhibit concerning interactions and/or behaviors so that we can improve communication between students and department instructors, staff, and advisors in an effort to ensure that students who need help can receive it. Our faculty will receive additional training about recognizing signs of distress in students and about referring students to the appropriate resources. This process will parallel the University’s efforts with respect to the newly formed Behavioral Threat Management Team, will complement other existing resources on campus, and ideally will work to refer students before they reach a point of crisis.

Empowering Students

The second prong of our approach to improve accountability involves empowering our students to assume more responsibility for their professional development and their progress through the major. To facilitate our students’ professional development, we will develop a Kinesiology undergraduate “code of professional conduct.” The code will emphasize principles and behaviors that are consistent with success in Kinesiology-related careers. This effort will complement the University’s focus on ethics and integrity.

We will explore the establishment of a “My Kinesiology” portal on our website. In theory, this site will have several features that will facilitate students’ making smart choices about the curricular options within our department, course sequencing, internships, research experiences, career preparation, internships, course sequencing, etc. It will represent a “one-stop shopping” concept where students can get information about key issues they face as Kinesiology majors.

One feature of this site will be to better advertise opportunities for our majors to interface with Kinesiology alumni, such as connections with our Affiliate Program Group (APG)’s activities, the Alumni Mentoring Program, and internships provided by alumni. This website will be developed with the help of our Kinesiology Club students so it captures the student perspective.

Instruction in General Education with a focus on student health and well-being: Kinesiology Physical Activity Program (KPAP)

An important function of the Department of Kinesiology is to provide health science and physical activity courses for students who are completing their baccalaureate degree requirements. This function is the primary responsibility of the KPAP program and it is another example of the impact our department has on student health and well-being. The goal of the KPAP is to teach students about both the immediate and lifelong benefits of regular physical activity and help students to develop an understanding of physical activity as an aspect of wellness.

During an academic year the KPAP program offers approximately 300 sections of courses in lifetime sports and fitness/wellness experiences, employs between thirty and thirty-five part time instructors, serves more than 8,000 undergraduates, and produces approximately 13,000 student credit hours.

In addition to its normal complement of courses, KPAP includes several unique course offerings that include aspects of engaged scholarship (i.e., either an interdisciplinary aspect or an embedded travel component). Examples of these programs are our wilderness literature course, which combines reading in wilderness literature with KINES 001, introduction to outdoor pursuits and our advanced ballroom dance program, in which KPAP students who have passed the introductory ballroom dance class can travel and compete with other university students in ballroom dance competitions.

Center for Fitness and Wellness

More recently, 28-40 KPAP class sections and approximately 1,000-1,200 students per semester go through fitness testing before and after their physical activity experience in our CFW. An additional 175-210 students from five to six sections of KINES 84 (fitness for life) do a one-time fitness test. This testing is similar to the information collected during Penn State’s recent “biometric screening” testing, but also includes measures of aerobic capacity and muscle strength and endurance. Beginning in spring 2014, cholesterol and blood glucose testing will be offered. Results of these tests are incorporated into the lecture component of the KPAP courses, and students learn firsthand about their own scores and what they mean about their health.

General Education Reform at Penn State

Although the core council called for the elimination of the GHA requirement, the more recent planned revision of general education at Penn State offers new possibilities for the KPAP to play an important and sustained role in the health and well-being of Penn State students. We will explore ways to adapt our KPAP courses to meet the new goals of general education when they are established so that we are well positioned to continue to play a central role in general education at Penn State. Although the direction of the reforms is currently unclear, the inclusion of KPAP courses in health-related “themes” may be a strong possibility. In doing so, we plan to expand the activities of the CFW to test more Penn State students and include a greater array of health related tests and screenings.

GOAL:

Recognizing that our department influences more University Park students’ lives than any other academic unit as majors and through general education, we plan to optimize educational experiences in Kinesiology for the 21st century learner using a student centered approach that emphasizes educational accountability.

ACTIONS:

  • Hire six new tenure track faculty and four new instructors for resident instruction
  • Revise the resident instruction curriculum to include more selective recruitment, increased efficiency, innovative opportunities for active learning, and evidence based strategies to enhance student learning
  • Work with the Harrisburg, Altoona, and Behrend Campus faculty to ensure a successful P3 process
  • Integrate technology in and out of the classroom to enhance student learning and facilitate delivery of the curriculum to UP and campus students (i.e., presence on World Campus, E-Learning Cooperative, Angel and use of technology in practiced based settings).
  • Increase Kinesiology offerings on the World Campus
  • Develop strategies to facilitate students’ responsibility and accountability for their education, professional development, and personal health
  • Adapt the KPAP to play an important role in the new landscape of general education at Penn State
  • Secure resources for a full time website technician to improve accessibility to information about curriculum and educational opportunities
  • Secure resources to develop new and existing courses and on–line and to introduce new technology in practice based settings
  • Revise our departmental website to feature unique aspects of our undergraduate resident instruction program and our KPAP program, and include consolidated content for specific use by current and future students

Research and Scholarship Synergies

Research Productivity

The department currently holds a No. 1 national ranking for our graduate program based on results from both the National Research Council (2005) and the National Academy of Kinesiology (2005 and 2010). We continue to have internationally known researchers in all of our graduate areas, and we enjoy a long and distinguished history of significant contributions to core disciplines within Kinesiology.

The research faculty includes some of the world's most renowned and respected scholars in their respective fields. They serve as editors of scholarly journals, on international and national advisory boards, as leaders of important professional organizations, and on scientific review panels for federal funding agencies, including the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

Evidence that our research productivity is declining includes the fact that research dollars ($2.1 million) credited to Kinesiology in 2012-2013 are at the lowest point 2004, and since 2009, the year our teaching load for tenure track faculty increased, the dollars credited to Kinesiology have steadily declined from a high of $5.4 million. While our publication rate at an average of six publications/faculty/year remains strong, this index will presumably exhibit unfavorable changes over time if grant awards continue to decline.

If we are to maintain our No. 1 national ranking and the excellent research reputation we enjoy, we must take immediate strategic steps to optimize our research efforts and redirect resources toward research and scholarship. To increase our collective research productivity and address the pending loss of senior faculty we need to add tenure track faculty who will build on existing strengths and create research synergies.

We recognize that success in obtaining external funding is currently associated with a “team science” approach that involves interdisciplinary groups of researchers working together to solve a problem. A key part of our research agenda moving forward will be to capitalize on opportunities to hire new faculty who will strengthen collaborative efforts both within and outside our department.

We recognize that opportunities may be on the horizon for a new HHD center, cluster hires around a particular theme, and or co-hires with other HHD units, and we will explore ways in which Kinesiology can be a central part of these efforts. Moreover, a detailed analysis of our collaborative activities over the last five years has revealed a strong tie with colleagues at Hershey Medical Center; we will look at ways to further strengthen and facilitate these collaborative relationships.

Research Culture

Internally, we need to explore ways to enhance our research culture with the goal of increasing research productivity. Possible options to explore include establishing an internal system of peer review for grants, a more formal mentoring system for junior faculty, brown bag lunches to discuss research topics and strategies to overcome challenges in a tough funding climate, and strategies to consolidate research resources and services. We will also increase the recognition of research efforts and successes within our department.

Physical Activity as an Integral Component of Interdisciplinary Health Interventions

Faculty in Kinesiology have a broad range of research foci that range from basic mechanistic studies of physiology and human movement to health behavior interventions and scholarly work on the role and meaning of physical activity and sport in society. Over the next five years, our research agenda will include building on our existing strengths with a focus on capitalizing on opportunities for synergy with other units. A particular area where we believe potential synergies could be realized within HHD is that of interdisciplinary health interventions.

With the incorporation of technological advances in mobile phones, statistical algorithms that provide real time feedback, and web-based databases, behavioral interventions that involve physical activity are becoming increasingly sophisticated and tailored to sub populations that represent a particular disease and or phase of life. Such interventions are applicable to individuals, but the vehicles for behavior change are inclusive of families, churches, the community, the schools, and the government and private industry.

As well, our appreciation of physical activity as a behavior that has meaning beyond its impact of health, such as its impact on the quality of life, also needs to be taken into account when optimizing specific interventions. As such, behavior change is increasing being recognized as a complex problem which requires interdisciplinary teams of scholars, scientists, policymakers, practitioners, and corporate partners to address. Kinesiology faculty in the social and behavioral sciences and in the humanities are central in this context. Moreover, research activity in the College around behavioral health interventions has been an area of success and is increasing.

Expertise in neural, physiological, and biomechanical mechanisms underlying human movement and physical activity-induced health benefits as a key strength

The development of any successful behavioral intervention that addresses health outcomes is inexorably tied to an understanding of the biological basis of the relation between the intervention and the physiological disease process. An understanding of neural, physiological, or biomechanical mechanisms linking behavior change to health is central to many successful health interventions. This thinking as it pertains to the known health benefits of physical activity has recently been re-iterated by NIH in the form of a request for information around the theme of “Identifying Gaps in Understanding the Mechanisms of Physical Activity-Induced Health Benefits (NOT-RM-14-001).”

To optimize physical activity-induced health benefits, the basic biology underlying the effects must be taken into account. Kinesiology faculty excel in this area with work ranging from studies utilizing molecular biology techniques employed in animal models to randomized controlled trials in human subjects. In fact, the biological basis of human movement and physical activity is a long standing area of expertise within our department, as evidenced by the long standing reputations of the Biomechanics Lab and Noll Laboratory. We also currently house the Huck Institutes’ “Center for Motor Control” and the HHD “Center for Sport Concussion Research and Service.”

Our work also includes translational research addressing the prevention and amelioration of disease and injury and the recovery of function. We believe that synergistic collaborations around innovative health interventions can be built upon our expertise in the biological and biomedical sciences, and our research agenda going forward will explore ways to leverage and build on this expertise to capitalize on new opportunities.

GOAL:

Increase our research capacity by building on and leveraging our expertise in the neural, physiological, biomechanical, and behavioral mechanisms underlying human movement and physical activity-induced health benefits by galvanizing our internal resources while capitalizing on opportunities for synergism.

ACTIONS:

  • Leverage our unique strength in the study of mechanisms underlying human movement, physical activity, and health interventions to attract new resources and new collaborators
  • Hire new faculty that build on existing strengths but bring potential for synergies within and outside our department
  • Physical activity and health across the lifespan
  • Motivation and physical activity behavior
  • Neuroscience/brain and human movement
  • Women’s health
  • Aging
  • Explore opportunistic faculty hires when there are synergies that will strengthen our research portfolio
  • Explore opportunities for seed funding and other support for biomedical research
  • Facilitate integration of our faculty with new and existing units in and outside of HHD e.g. Hershey, HHD Centers, Departments of Nutritional Sciences, Biobehavioral Health, Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Management
  • Enhance our internal research culture through development of internal peer review, increased recognition of research accomplishments, direction of additional resources to research efforts
  • Revise our departmental website to showcase our research strengths to potential colleagues, students, donors, and other stakeholders

Graduate Education

The department currently holds a No. 1 national ranking for our graduate program based on results from both the National Research Council (2010) and the National Academy of Kinesiology (NAK) (2005 and 2010). The rankings for the NAK consider the following faculty and graduate student indices over the previous five year period: publications, funding expenditures, visibility (editorial boards, national fellowships, NAK membership), graduate assistant support, student GRE scores, postdoctoral employment, and admissions criteria (selectivity, yield).

Our graduate program is currently the third largest in the college, when students from Intercollege Degree Programs mentored by Kinesiology faculty are included. In order to maintain our No. 1 ranking, a focus on the size, quality of students, and research productivity of our faculty and students must be prioritized. If we are successful at enhancing our research culture and increasing our faculty research productivity, our graduate program should benefit because we will attract higher quality students who will go onto successful careers in science and academe. However, specific steps will be taken to improve the selectivity and diversity of our graduate student applicant pool.

We will use the GRE database to directly recruit top quality students with a particular effort to recruit students from underrepresented groups. We will continue our participation in Healthy People Penn State, and increase other efforts to recruit a more diverse student body. Although our enrollment of students from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups has increased since 2009 to 8 percent, there is much room for improvement.

GOAL:

Further enhance our No. 1 ranked graduate program to improve research productivity and include more experiences and opportunities that reflect greater integration and enhanced professional development.

ACTIONS:

  • Explore and secure new funding opportunities for students through partnerships with KPAP, CFW, reciprocal arrangements with IGDP’s, and possibly the HHD Development office.
  • Increase the size of graduate program
  • Increase graduate student diversity via proactive recruitment efforts (e.g. Healthy People Penn State, GRE database search)
  • Increase graduate course offerings
  • Enhance professional training and development opportunities by participating in the CTSI dual-title Ph.D. program and by fostering connections with colleagues and Kinesiology alumni in industry and other careers outside academe
  • Revise our department website to feature research accomplishments of our graduate students

Engaged Scholarship to Improve Health

Engaged Scholarship Opportunities

The Penn State Council on Engaged Scholarship defines engaged scholarship as “out-of-classroom academic experiences that complement classroom learning.” The Department of Kinesiology offers a variety of out of classroom experiences through its Internship Program, KPAP program, courses sponsored through Continuing Education, and through its sponsorship of the Kinesiology Club, PHETE Club, and the Athletic Training Club. Most all of these efforts include teaching and experiential learning with a focus on physical activity-induced health benefits and these efforts will continue to be supported. Our goal is to enhance the impact of our service and outreach efforts by better integrating our research with these educational experiences such that they serve as translational outlets for new knowledge about physical activity and health.

Exercise is Medicine

More recently, we have developed our Exercise is Medicine (EIM) initiative. Exercise is Medicine at Penn State is a Kinesiology department-led campus outreach effort aimed at creating broad awareness of the vital role that exercise and a physically active lifestyle play in student health. This mission is based on the belief that a physically active and fitness-conscious Penn State student is more likely to make healthy lifestyle choices, to perform better academically, to remain physically active after graduation, and to promote the value of physical activity in their future professions. We wish to institutionalize EIM on the University Park Campus and position this effort as a primary vehicle for departmental outreach. This includes creating a standing departmental EIM committee, hiring an outreach coordinator to help interface our EIM efforts within and outside HHD, and developing a long term funding plan for EIM.

Center for Fitness and Wellness

Another example of engaged scholarship and service learning is our CFW. The CFW conducts fitness testing approximately 1,200 or more students each semester who are part of six different KPAP courses. The activities of the CFW are supervised by faculty and one staff member, but the majority of the testing is tied in with our Internship Program. The testing is performed by Kinesiology students who are enrolled in KINES 395B or KINES 495B, which are two of our three practicum courses. More recently students in KINES 295, 457, and 264 have participated. These students gain hands on, practical knowledge working with “clients” in a professional fitness and wellness setting. Kinesiology students have also begun working with adult clients recruited through HHD, Minitab employees, and with individuals at the YMCA. Our goal is to expand the quality of services and the reach of our Center for Fitness and Wellness so that our students work with individuals from the Penn State and surrounding communities.

GOAL:

Expanding on our EIM initiative and the activities of our CFW, our service and outreach efforts will prioritize service learning and engaged scholarship experiences to translate new knowledge to improve the health of Penn State students and our community.

ACTIONS:

  • Integrate the translation of new knowledge about physical activity and health throughout our service and outreach activities
  • Explore opportunities to integrate and expand our EIM and CFW activities to include other University and community stakeholders, including the hiring of an fitness and wellness coordinator
  • Revise our departmental website to include pages devoted to EIM and CFW, and feature other unique opportunities for engaged scholarship
  • Enhance the Visibility and Sustainability of our Accomplishments

The sustained success of Kinesiology faculty and students depends on our ability to communicate and support our teaching, research, and outreach efforts to key stakeholders. We need to be more proactive at fostering our relationship with Kinesiology alumni and with the HHD development and communications offices so that the accomplishments of our faculty and students attract more visibility within the Penn State community and society at large.

GOAL:

Improve the awareness and visibility of Kinesiology research, teaching, and outreach accomplishments and proactively work with HHD Development staff to advance the mission of the Department.

ACTIONS:

Work with the HHD Communications staff to increase the number and quality of communications covering faculty and student accomplishments. Produce a steady stream of content about faculty and student accomplishments that can be included on Kinesiology and HHD websites and in other media outlets.

  • Increase the number of press releases covering faculty research
  • Enhance the visibility of Kinesiology research and scholarship activities on the Kinesiology website.
  • Work with HHD development staff to advance philanthropic efforts to support Kinesiology student scholarships, and faculty research, teaching, and outreach activities o Establish better connections between the Department and our alumni and affiliates through increased support of alumni activities and programming.
  • Work with Development staff to improve direct communications and activities with Kinesiology donors at the Departmental level
  • Conduct annual appeals to support Kinesiology activities
  • Enhance HHD Development officers’ understanding of Kinesiology research and outreach activities by increasing opportunities for faculty and Development Staff to interact
  • Continue to foster support for existing endowments and develop new opportunities for supporting Kinesiology activities

Learning Outcome Assessment: Plans, Progress, Initiatives

Our department has lagged in learning outcome assessment but has made more progress recently. We are currently identifying evidence of student learning, implementing assessment strategies, and will evaluate outcomes in order to make recommendations for revisions to our curriculum as time goes on. We are developing a test bank of standardized objective questions that align with learning objectives in core courses, i.e., KINES 197, 202, 321, 345, 360, 350, and 384 and will begin to administer these questions in Spring 2014. We will also identify Kinesiology–related skills from our laboratory courses KINES 202 and 384 and implement strategies to quantify student success with learning these skills.

Strategic Performance Indicators

Strategic performance indicators at the Department, College, and University level have been consistently collated and used by the Department of Kinesiology. We will continue this practice and have identified particular metrics that are associated with the strategic actions in our plan and will be tracked.

Diversity Planning

The Department of Kinesiology values diversity in all its forms. Learning about kinesiology involves developing an appreciation for people from different backgrounds, understanding movement from a wide range of perspectives, and fostering diverse types of thinking. Department faculty expertise reflects considerable breadth and diversity. Our Diversity and Climate committee will work to address five challenges of Diversity Planning:

Challenge 1: Developing a shared and inclusive understanding of Diversity

Actions: We will establish a resourceful website as a component of our Department site that incorporates the department’s diversity statement and Kinesiology-related diversity events and information, as well as diversity themes in the University’s and HHD’s diversity strategic plan. We will include Diversability as a distinctive annual feature of the department’s Exercise is Medicine Week by working with the Office of Disability Services to recruit a diverse population of participants each year for inclusion in these events.

Challenge 2: Creating a welcoming campus climate

Actions: We will explore the creation of an interdepartmental Diversity Speaker Series within HHD, and sponsor one event each semester or year with a diversity focus, e.g., how to address diversity across the curriculum.

Challenge 3: Recruiting and retaining a diverse student body

Actions: We will explore the development of an interdepartmental Diversity and Inclusion Summit within HHD with the goal of assembling a report of “best practices” to serve as a guide to HHD academic units for addressing this challenge. To improve recruitment of graduate students from underrepresented groups, we will use the GRE Database Search service to directly contact potential applicants. We will also continue to forge connections with colleges like Spelman College, Atlanta Georgia, with the goal of recruiting their undergraduates for summer research opportunities, and then building on this connection to attract potential graduate applicants. We will also continue our participation in Healthy People Penn State.

Challenge 4: Recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce

Actions: For each job posting, we will include postings through appropriate websites and listservs to reach potential applicants from underrepresented groups. We will also develop guidelines for promotion of fixed-term academic rank faculty with the goal of fostering an appreciation for the diversity among faculty of all ranks and their distinctive skill sets. We will also explore the creation of an HHD interdepartmental task force to address the issue of promotion of fixed term faculty across the College. We will consider use and application of the secondary title of “Clinical Assistant Professor” to recognize the distinct clinical contributions of many of our faculty.

Challenge 5: Developing a curriculum that fosters intercultural and international competencies

Actions: We will charge the departmental undergraduate curriculum and education committee to explore definitions of intercultural and international competence and explore best practices among other HHD units. We will then explore ways to infuse Kinesiology courses with content that fosters these competencies.

Core Council Follow-up

Elimination of the GHA requirement for General Education

University Park Core Council recommendations that directly impacted the Department of Kinesiology included two primary directives. The first of these was the elimination of the General Health and Activity requirement. A revised proposal was submitted by Dean Crouter to the Faculty Senate in Fall, 2012. This proposal called for a revision of the GHA requirement to a “GHE” requirement which maintained a focus on health related courses, but eliminated Kinesiology physical activity classes as part of the required three credits. This proposal was not acted on by the Faculty Senate because General Education at Penn State was being reviewed and reforms were being considered. With the formation of the General Education Task Force, reforms to general education are underway and as such the proposal to eliminate the GHA and replace it with the GHE requirement is not relevant and has been withdrawn by Dean Crouter as of December 2013. The Department of Kinesiology remains eager to play an important role in the new landscape of general education at Penn State.

Elimination of an Undergraduate Option

The second directive provided by the Core Council was to eliminate one undergraduate option. In line with this recommendation it was decided that the Fitness Studies option at UP would be eliminated. The last students who can enter the option will be those who do so by summer 2014. In fall 2013, two decisions were made that are relevant to this directive. One was to eliminate the Physical and Health Education Teacher Education (PHETE) option due to several internal and external factors that detract from the program’s viability going forward.

To address the gap in our curriculum created by the elimination of both of these options, we are developing a new option that will train students for applied careers in fitness and wellness, physical and health education, and coaching. This option will have an emphasis on preparation for professional certifications in these fields, and will be unique from other options offered in Kinesiology.

Development of Kinesiology four year degree programs Commonwealth Campuses

The Core Council recommendations for Commonwealth Campuses included a directive to develop three new Kinesiology majors at Harrisburg, Altoona, and Behrend campuses using the P3 process. The Department of Kinesiology at UP has been and will continue to work closely with these campuses to develop these programs. Thus far, the movement science and exercise science (Berks) options are of interest to these campuses.

Integrity and Ethical Behavior

The Department of Kinesiology is committed to the values of respect, integrity, and a commitment to excellence. To help instill these values in our undergraduates, we will develop a Kinesiology professional code of conduct that is in line with the expectations for professionals in Kinesiology –related careers.

Sustainability

Recognizing that the definition of sustainability at Penn State is “the simultaneous pursuit of human health and happiness, environmental quality, and economic well-being for current and future generations," the Department of Kinesiology contributes to the Penn State goal of sustainability through its focus on physical activity and its related health and physical function benefits. This focus cuts across our research, teaching, and service/outreach efforts, and will be particularly highlighted through our campus wide efforts with EIMe in the next five years. Operationally, we will take further steps to conserve energy and engage in environmentally friendly activities.

We are adapting to the Penn State MÖBIUS program. We have ordered and will install a water station in Rec Hall outside the Kinesiology main offices, and we conduct a battery recycling program. Thus far, our faculty have submitted one proposal to the Penn State Sustainability Institute Reinvention Fund entitled “Development of sustainable social network and social marketing resources for promoting university-based activity transportation”.

Correlation of Strategic Initiatives to Budget Planning and Adjustments

The Department will continue to participate in budget recycling efforts. We will explore additional opportunities to bring in revenue through summer teaching, the World Campus, and through our Continuing Education courses. Requests to support strategic planning actions include the hiring of 6 new tenure track faculty, 4 new instructors, one website technician, one fitness and wellness coordinator, and resources to develop new on-line and World Campus courses.

References

1. http://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topicsobjectives2020/overview.aspx?top...

2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. 2008 Physical activity guidelines for Americans. Washington: HHS; 2008 http://www.health.gov/PAGuidelines/

3. http://chronicle.texterity.com/chronicle/20131101a?sub_id=YiiZ7ceEGmf4#pg6

4. Penn State Outreach and Online Education

5. http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/08/11/kinesiology

6. http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_table_103.htm

7. Hingson, R. W., Zha, W., & Weitzman, E. R. (2009). Magnitude of and trends in alcohol-related mortality and morbidity among U.S. college students ages 18-24, 1998-2005. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 16, 12-20.