LSU Media Center
BATON ROUGE – This summer, Russell L. Carson, associate professor in the LSU College of Human Sciences & Education’s School of Kinesiology, conducted the first three of four Director of Physical Activity, or DPA, certification workshops for K-12 physical educators in the state of Louisiana.
These workshops were conducted as part of a research grant the LSU School of Kinesiology received from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Active Living Research program. As principal investigator, Carson and the Physical and Emotional Literacy, or PEL, Lab aim to evaluate the impact and sustainability of the National Association for Sport and Physical Education, or NASPE’s, DPA certification program on changes in school physical activity policies, teacher efficacy and engagement and physical activity behaviors of underserved 9-14 year-old children.
Additional funding for this research is provided by NASPE’s research grant program, along with in-kind contributions from the Louisiana Department of Education, and collaborations with colleagues from the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Kentucky.
Between May 2012 and December 2014, Carson and his research team will coordinate the DPA certification of 250 teachers in Louisiana and throughout the U.S., and track the comprehensive school physical activity program efforts within each respective school for one academic year, post training. Data will be collected via surveys, accelerometers, student focus group interviews and individual interviews with certified DPA teachers and school administrators.
“Physical inactivity is now considered a pandemic with notable consequences to the physical, cognitive and emotional health of children,” Carson said. “Coordinated models are recognized as ideal agents for developing a school culture conducive to promoting lifelong physical activity; however, in order for these models to reach their fullest potential, schools need to be equipped with a champion of physical activity, or a DPA, to spearhead implementation.”
This research presents a unique professional development opportunity for Louisiana physical education teachers as the DPA certification program, which was unveiled for the first time to teachers around the country in March 2012, has been piloted with physical educators in only two states to date: Texas and Kansas.
“The obesity and health problems of Louisiana are well-documented,” Carson added. “My goal is for Louisiana to tackle these problems by taking the lead in building healthier generations of active youth through DPA-led school programs. All it takes is for one teacher from a school to be DPA trained for an entire school population to reap the benefits of increased physical activity opportunities. As a result, the impact of these workshops has the capacity to reach thousands of school-aged youth in the Louisiana.”
The first three DPA certification workshops in Louisiana were held on May 30 and 31 at Woodlawn High School in Baton Rouge, and on August 25 at Acadian Middle School in Lafayette. During these workshops, Carson and his team demonstrated to participating teachers new ways to encourage physical activity in students and staff in and around the school day, not only in the PE classroom. Carson encouraged participating teachers to work with classroom teachers to implement techniques such as “brain breaks” during each lesson, which utilize physically active games to enhance learning. “Brain breaks” not only allow subject matter to become more fun, but also get students moving at a time when they would usually be sedentary.
“I was immediately inspired by all of the clever ways to incorporate movement in the traditional classroom environment,” said Shannon Eaton, a participant in the first workshop and a physical educator from Montegut Middle School. “In the approaching school year I will be teaching for the first time in an English class as opposed to my usual PE class. When I enrolled in the DPA workshop, it was just a way of maintaining professional development in my favorite subject area. Little did I know that I would learn how to make my English class resemble my PE class. I can’t wait to implement these new strategies.
“Participating in the DPA program has prompted me to look beyond the ideal school setting to find places where my services and expertise are needed. Since the initial workshop, I feel confident that I can inspire a higher value of physical education among the community in which I teach.”
The next DPA certification workshop in Louisiana will be held in May 2013 in the Baton Rouge area. In addition, Carson will conduct DPA workshops in the coming years to national teacher audiences, such as at the annual meeting of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, or AAHPERD, in Charlotte, N.C. in 2013.
An integral piece of the AAHPERD Let’s Move in School initiative, the DPA certification program provides physical education teachers with the knowledge, skills and attitude to champion and spearhead the implementation of a comprehensive school physical activity program.
The LSU School of Kinesiology is concerned with the many aspects of human movement and its application to physical activity and the quality of life. Graduates gain a broad understanding of health and exercise and apply their expertise in schools, community fitness centers, hospitals, rehabilitation units, businesses and industries and a variety of sports settings.
The new College of Human Sciences & Education consists of six schools: the School of Education, the School of Human Resource Education and Workforce Development, the School of Kinesiology, the School of Library and Information Science, the School of Social Work, and the University Laboratory School.
For more information about the School of Kinesiology, visit www.lsu.edu/kinesiology.
For more information about the College of Human Sciences & Education, visit www.lsu.edu/chse.
LSU Media Relations