Strategic Planning in Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance

Article excerpt

Health, physical education, recreation, and dance (HPERD) disciplines face an accelerating rate of change. School-aged students increasingly come from single-parent homes, are non-caucasian, and bring heterogenous learning styles, educational and technological experiences, and various exceptionalities to the classroom. Many college students are nontraditional in ages, backgrounds, and expectations. Despite the widespread availability of health, recreation, dance, and sports programs, the fitness levels of Americans indicate that a high percentage of people fail to participate in regular physical activity.

The complexity of the world appears to increase almost exponentially. Teachers, for example, are expected to integrate new technologies into their instruction such as video disks and the Internet, although most teachers earned certifications before personal computers were commonly used. As we enter the twenty-first century, most HPERD professionals face these and other challenges. While having to endure the almost daily questions about the value of their programs, HPERD professionals also are expected to initiate reform and improve fitness levels of those they serve or stand aside while parents, businesses, universities, or politicians provide alternative models claiming greater efficiencies and more effective resource allocation. For example, HPERD professionals are expected to develop and maintain the fitness levels of students even though we have them in class only once or twice a week, or only one year during their high school years. Yet, public school educators are expected to educate all children, regardless of their physical, mental, or emotional abilities. And they are expected to reform education while teaching - a task analogous to fixing a flat tire with the car moving. So, why is strategic planning essential and how can it help? It is vital because of the tremendous change, complexity, and uncertainty in physical education and the need for efficiencies and effectiveness.

What Is Strategic Planning?

Strategic planning is a formal, continuous process of making decisions based on internal and external assessments. It involves the organization of people and tasks to execute these decisions and to measure goal achievement and performance results. Strategic planning consists of answering these questions: How did we get here? Where are we going? How will we get there? How will we make it all work? (Napuk, 1993). It is the framework for decisions and action - was significantly influenced by external forces and the environmental context - that guides what HPERD programs are and what they do. The action of strategic planning places great importance on the process of developing a plan.

Successful strategic planning has helped institutions respond to evolving undergraduate enrollment trends that changed as many students opted for exercise science, athletic training, and sport management programs rather than teacher education programs. These trends have occurred because of the changes in the job market and personal interests of students. Strategic planning can be characterized as dynamic, continual, flexible, responsive, analytical, creative, action-oriented, and focused (Napuk, 1993). Because of change, complexity, and uncertainty, each of these characteristics is important if our students are to be prepared for the careers that are available and valued by society.

In the quest of HPERD professionals for greater efficiency and effectiveness in the use of monetary, personnel, and technological resources, planning must be an unending, iterative process. Strategic planning enables teachers, program directors, and professionals to identify resources they will require for continued success in their fields. Strategic planning identifies ways to solicit these resources and how to determine the skills and knowledge that teachers and employees must know. The national standards for physical education and the certifications required for employment as an aerobics instructor or athletic trainer are examples of this. …