How Many Physical Educators Can Define Kinesiology?
Sherman, Nestor, JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance
It has been about 10 years since many universities elected or were mandated to change the name of their physical education degrees. In some states, physical education departments were legislatively forced to decide on new degree names for their graduates. Many physical education departments adopted the name kinesiology. Proponents of the name kinesiology believed this new name would bring professional and academic credibility to their departments and degrees.
Unfortunately, kinesiology is a very obscure word. It is not even defined in Webster's New World Dictionary. However, Webster's New World/Stedman's Concise Medical Dictionary defines kinesiology as the science or the study of movement, and the active and passive structures involved.
Previously, individuals looking for physical education classes found them easily in college catalogs. Today physical education classes are listed under human movement studies, exercise science, sport studies, human performance, and kinesiology to name a few of the possibilities. When music education and art education were forced to remove "education" from the names of their degrees, it was simple. They became art and music with teacher certification. In the area of physical education we were not so lucky. We could not give out a degree in "physical" with teacher certification. This left us little choice but to select from the plethora of terms that describe physical education or human movement. In other parts of the world, physical education students study "sport," but this name also has negative connotations. A department or degree in sport does not sound very academic or scientific. Physical education departments then voted or decided on the next best name, and as a result, we now have many new names for physical education.
To illustrate the obscurity of the word kinesiology, I asked 97 kinesiology majors in the class "Introduction to Kinesiology" to define kinesiology. Only 30 percent of kinesiology majors came close to being able to define kinesiology. Nearly 25 percent responded that kinesiology was the science or study of sports. …