Preparing Preservice Physical Educators to Teach a Concepts-Based Fitness Course

Article excerpt

Today, many colleges and universities in the United States offer a concepts-based physical education course entitled "Lifetime Fitness," "Fitness for Life," or something similar, in which students engage in physical activity two days a week and attend a lecture or lab one day a week. In recent years it has become increasingly common to see these types of courses being offered in middle and high school settings as well. In fact, some states have mandated that a concepts-based fitness (CBF) course be offered at a freshman or sophomore level. In Florida, for example, students complete a Personal Fitness course (Johnson & Harageones, 1994).

Teaching this type of course is a struggle for many physical education teachers because they have not been trained to teach it. In a recent study investigating physical education teacher certification requirements for institutions granting doctoral degrees, respondents were asked to identify curriculum and instruction requirements within their teacher preparation programs. One hundred percent of the survey respondents require a secondary-level teaching methods course, 93 percent require an adapted teaching methods course, 83 percent require an elementary teaching methods course, and 35 percent require a middle and/or junior high school teaching methods course (Bahneman, 1996).

A glaring omission is the methods of teaching a fitness course. Pate and Holm (1994) stated,

In health-related physical education, skill acquisition is an objective, not a goal. The goal is promotion of lifelong activity and fitness, and this requires physical educators to promote relevant learning in the cognitive and affective domains. Most current professional preparation programs fail to develop these competencies. Health-related physical education will not become a professional norm until this changes. (p. 216)

Pangrazi stated, "It is time that preservice students leave college with the competency and desire to teach a concepts-based fitness course" (Strand, Scantling, & Johnson, 1997, p. xix).

To prepare preservice students to teach CBF, this article presents a method of teaching a fitness course.

Five themes that form the conceptual framework for such a course have been identified (Strand, et al., 1997). Within each theme, ideas and strategies are presented to aid teacher educators as they structure their methods-of-fitness course. High school physical education teachers may also be able to apply the themes to develop CBF courses.

What Is Fitness Education and Why Do We Need It?

The first theme defines fitness education and provides a rationale for including CBF in a school's physical education curriculum. After mastering this theme, preservice students are able to make a compelling argument on behalf of CBF and can justify its inclusion as a major component in public school physical education programs. The following points are discussed when teaching this theme.

What Is Fitness Education? Fitness education is the teaching of knowledge and activities that will promote good health and well-being throughout life. It can be implemented in a number of ways. In one approach, teachers can simply modify their traditional physical education activities so the activities are more fitness oriented. Another approach is for schools to offer specific fitness-oriented classes such as strength training, jogging, or aerobic dance. The most effective approach has teachers design a CBF course in which students use a textbook, take part in lecture and lab experiences, complete homework and tests, participate in a variety of fitness activities, and learn how to design a personalized training program that they can take with them when they leave the program.

Why Do We Need Fitness Education? Many leading experts believe that American children and youth are not as active nor as healthy as they probably should be, and therefore may develop risk factors that lead to heart disease and premature death (Gortmaker, Dietz, Sobol, & Wehler, 1987; Kuntzleman & Reiff, 1992; Plimpton, 1987). …