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Pedagogy Health Promot. 2015 Sep 1;1(3):123-133. Epub 2015 Jul 10.

Experiential Learning in Kinesiology: A Student Perspective.

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Associate Professor, Indiana University School of Medicine.
Accountable Healthcare, Inc.
Associate Professor, Wellstar College of Health and Human Services Department of Health Promotion and Physical Education, Kennesaw State University.
Associate Professor, Department of Kinesiology, Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis.



Service learning is a form of experiential learning that pairs academic educational experiences and community organizations to promote training, civic engagement, and meaningful service by students to their community. Kinesiology programs have moved toward increasing experiential and service learning options in health promotion for their students, but few have evaluated the student perceptions of these programs.


The purpose of the current study was to conduct a qualitative evaluation of a service learning course for Kinesiology majors located in a low-income urban area.


Ten recent graduates of a department of Kinesiology were enrolled in focus groups, stratified by gender, facilitated by a graduate research assistant not affiliated with their school. Focus group discussions were audiotaped, transcribed and analyzed for themes.


Nine themes were identified including: (1) Personal and professional experience, (2) decision to participate, (3) location decision, (4) self-efficacy, (5) perceptions of program members, (6) social interaction, (7) personal and program communication, (8) physical facilities and (9) program outcomes. Students positively evaluated the learning experience as valuable to their personal and professional development; noted changes in their perceptions of low-income communities and increases to self-efficacy and skill acquisition from the beginning to the end of the course; and observed significant needs and improvements in physical, emotional and social outcomes of community members.


This study demonstrated multiple and varied benefits of a service learning program for Kinesiology students. On-going evaluation of service learning programs in health promotion is needed to enhance student and community outcomes.

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