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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.

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

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 3:

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
Engaged Scholarship to Enhance Student Health

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

Multidisciplinary Approach to the Study of Human Movement and Physical Activity

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.

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