Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

Enhancing Social Skills through College Physical Education

Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

Enhancing Social Skills through College Physical Education

Article excerpt

Introduction

During the 1980s, the Chinese government adopted the one-child policy in order to curb population growth. Many studies of the one-child policy have indicated that children have suffered impaired communication skills since its introduction (Mao, 2002; Hou, 2003; Kikuchi, 2007). Moreover, with the development of information technology, the wide availability of the Internet, and widespread use of cell-phones, indirect communication has increased. The present problem of Chinese students' gradual loss of social and communication skills has been previously studied, as has the use of university physical education (PE) as an intervention (Wang, 2011). Most attention has been given to the development of original scales of social and communication skills (Ronald, 1986). The lack of communication skills prevents college students from successfully navigating college social environments (Pitan, 2012). Enrico (2003) showed that social skills inversely correlated with emotional expressivity. Furthermore, social skills inversely correlated with psychological distress (Uchiyama, 2011). Thus, social skills may significantly influence mental health.

In recent years, there have been many studies on social skills, not only in China, but also in Japan, where social skills also appear to be declining. Many studies have shown that lack of communication is associated with interpersonal tension, having to repeat a year, and dropping out of school, which can lead students to experience considerable distress (Hashimoto, 2003; Sasaki, 2004 & Sugiyama, 2008). Previous research has also looked at the role of education for university students. Two of the most important goals in undergraduate education are character development and preparation for the working world (Simamoto, 2006). Social skills will prevent social maladjustment and make college life more meaningful (Nishida, 2009). Esra (2011) showed that attachment style was significantly correlated with social skills. In addition, degree of physical exercise has been shown to be significantly correlated with the ability to adapt socially (Xiao, 2007). Life skills can help people communicate with others (Danish & Wallace, 2002). Moreover, adolescents gain sportsmanship skills through sports participation (Danish & Wallace, 2002). PE lessons, due to their content and social circumstance, are experienced differently than are other subjects. Students who adjusted better in PE lessons had a better grasp of social skills (Sasaki, 2004). Particularly, direct engagement in exercise during PE lessons is expected. PE lessons provide the opportunity to teach students nonverbal social skills (Sugiyama, 2008). Team sports provide a natural social skills rehearsal space and chance to make contact with others regularly. Sports experience has been shown to be useful in character and personality development (Ueno, 1998).

PE lessons, such as class exercise programs and, dance, can help develop social skills (Simamoto, 2009). College students who participated in athletic clubs had better social skills than did non-athlete students (Nishida, 2009). Furthermore, PE programs specifically designed to enhance social skills are thought to be effective (Osman, 2010). It is important that PE teachers are available and able to model effective communication between students (Norlena, 2010). Nishida (2009) showed that the specific processes of PE lessons, intend to improve social skills can indeed facilitate students' social skill development.

However, in China, PE lessons emphasize learning motor skills and improving strength. While the effects of sports and exercise on social skill development have not been extensively explored, there have been a few such studies conducted in China. Wen (2007) created a social adaptation ability evaluation index system, but the application of this system towards social skills development was not discussed. Few studies have examined college students' social adaptation ability in China, and no original social skills scale for the Chinese has been developed. …

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