The Top Five Employment Opportunities in Physical Education Higher Education: 1993-1999

By Banks, Aaron L.; Wright, Ottley | Physical Educator, Fall 2001 | Go to article overview

The Top Five Employment Opportunities in Physical Education Higher Education: 1993-1999


Banks, Aaron L., Wright, Ottley, Physical Educator


Abstract

Employment opportunities for professionals within the field of physical education in higher education have been reported in several descriptive studies. Although these studies have been methodologically similar, all using the Chronicle of Higher Education as their sole data source, discrepancies have existed between findings. Current literature focusing on faculty and institutional demands for the 21st Century reports that a reduction in specialized areas will occur. The findings of this study contradict current literature. Data from this report suggest that current employment trends are those of specialization rather than generalization. This study classified the top five consumer needs in physical education according to the Carnegie Classification of Universities and Colleges for the years of 1993 to 1999.

Introduction

Physical education, as a field of study, has greatly evolved over the past half century. The field itself has moved from a broad based generalist discipline to a specialized profession with fragmented sub-disciplines (Greendorfer, 1987; Park, 1980). Pedagogy, sport management, exercise physiology, and biomechanics, among several others, have proved to be some of the most popular and enduring sub-disciplines housed within physical education (Koslow & Nix, 1988; Wenos, et al., 1996; Rowe, 1996). These specializations have remained the mainstay of physical education throughout the second half of the 20th Century. As a result, graduate students have been encouraged to choose specialized areas in which to concentrate their efforts (Koslow & Nix, 1988).

The maturation process of physical education has not only guided the careers of graduate students and professionals but has also influenced curricular trends within the field. However, concerns have been raised regarding the long-term benefits of this specialized approach. Consumer financial concerns and increased educational costs have impacted the ability of institutions to continue hiring specialists (Becker, 1991). Furthermore, the information explosion has beckoned forth a new type of generalist, the synergist, or one who has a home discipline yet is conversant in several areas to make connections and draw conclusions from an inter-, cross-, or multi-disciplinary approach (Metzler, 1994). The implications for the future and working professionals are that a reduction in specialized areas will occur with faculty being asked to increase their teaching loads and research output, while also working with students having diverse backgrounds (Rowe, 1996).

Employment opportunities for professionals within the field of physical education in higher education have been reported in several descriptive studies (Koslow & Nix, 1988; Wenos, et al., 1996; Rowe, 1996). Although these studies have been methodologically similar, all using the Chronicle of Higher Education as their sole data source, discrepancies have existed between findings, specifically Wenos, et al. (1996) and Rowe (1996). The data collected in these two studies overlapped for the years of 1991-1992, therefore, the findings should have duplicated each other. However, differences existed between the studies in total numbers of jobs for many of the specialized sub-discipline categories. Of the many descriptive studies that have been done (Rowe, 1996; Wenos, et al., 1996; Koslow & Nix, 1988), the categorizations of specialized sub-disciplines have clouded the ability to interpret the findings and apply them across all levels of higher education.

The purpose of this study is as follows: to further categorize the top five employment opportunities in physical education for the years 1993-1999 according to the Carnegie Classification of Universities and Colleges. The extension of this knowledge is important for physical educators seeking employment within higher education as it reveals a current update of career opportunities within the field of physical education. …

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