Engaged scholarship provides students with opportunities to learn and practice skills within both the general community and underserved populations. These types of opportunities are needed in kinesiology programs which train many allied health and wellness professionals. This paper outlines different strategies that were used to create service-learning opportunities in kinesiology undergraduate classes. Using frameworks established by national organizations (e.g., League of American Bicyclists, American Fitness Index), students have an opportunity to apply concepts of how community, policy, and the environment impact physical activity and public health. These activities help students gain experience by interacting in a professional setting; building skills for data collection, community engagement, and public speaking; and apply content from coursework to real-world situations.
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Duane Knudson and Melissa Bopp
The COVID-19 pandemic shifted kinesiology courses into more hybrid and online delivery, creating new challenges and opportunities for evaluating learning and online testing. Research using the Biomechanics Concept Inventory indicates that both high-tech and low-tech active learning experiences implemented in hybrid and online formats in biomechanics courses improve student learning above levels for lecture alone. However, online pre- and posttesting using concept inventories or major exams are vulnerable to cheating. Experience and research on proctoring online testing indicate only partial success in detecting cheating absent substantial faculty commitment to investigate suspicious behavior. These difficulties with online testing provide an opportunity for kinesiology faculty to implement more authentic, holistic assessments that are less vulnerable to violations of academic integrity. The importance of well-designed, rigorous assessment methods that uphold academic integrity standards will continue to evolve as kinesiology departments expand online learning.
Melissa Bopp, Christopher Bopp, and Megan Schuchert
Active transportation (AT) has been associated with positive health outcomes, yet limited research has addressed this with college students, a population at-risk for inactivity. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between AT behavior and objectively measured fitness outcomes.
A volunteer, convenience sample (n = 299) of college students from a large northeastern university completed a survey about their AT habits to and on campus and psychosocial constructs related to AT and participated in a laboratory-based fitness assessment (cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, body composition).Off-campus students were dichotomized as nonactive (0−1 AT trips/day) or active travelers (> 1 AT trips/day) to campus; t-tests compared nonactive and active travelers for psychosocial and fitness variables.
Students were 56.3% male, 79.2% non-Hispanic White, and primarily living off-campus (87%). Most students (n = 177, 59.2%) reported active travel between classes. Off-campus students were primarily active travelers (76.1%). Active travelers to campus had greater cardiovascular fitness (P = .005), were more flexible (P = .006) and had lower systolic blood pressure (P = .05) compared with nonactive travelers.
This study documents a relationship between AT behavior and objectively measured fitness among college students and provides a rationale for targeting this behavior as a method for improving health outcomes.
Robert Fields, Andrew T. Kaczynski, Melissa Bopp, and Elizabeth Fallon
Few studies of the built environment and physical activity or other health behaviors have examined minority populations specifically. The purpose of this study was to examine associations between the built environment and multiple health behaviors and outcomes among Hispanic adults.
Community partners distributed surveys (n = 189) in 3 communities in southwest Kansas. Logistic regression was used to examine relationships between neighborhood perceptions and 4 outcomes.
Meeting physical activity recommendations was associated with the presence of sidewalks and a safe park, and inversely related to higher crime. Residential density and shops nearby were related to active commuting. Sedentary behavior was inversely related to having a bus stop, bike facilities, safe park, interesting things to look at, and seeing people active. Finally, seeing people active was positively associated with being overweight.
This study suggests that among Hispanics, many built environment variables are related to health behaviors and should be targets for future neighborhood change efforts and research.
Melissa Bopp, Cheryl Der Ananian, and Matthew E. Campbell
The demonstrated health benefits of active commuting (AC) and low participation rates among older adults indicate a need to examine the socioecological correlates of AC by age category. An online survey of employed U.S. adults examined AC participation and individual, employment-related, community, and environmental variables. Participants were dichotomized by age (younger: 18–49 yr; n = 638, 64% and older: ≥50 yr; n = 359, 36%). Logistic-regression analyses examined differences in AC correlates by age. Older adults were less likely to be active commuters (13.4%) than younger adults (27.9%; p < .001) For older adults, analyses yielded a Nagelkerke R2 = .76, with perceived behavioral control, behavioral beliefs, household cars, and walking distance as predictors. Analyses for younger adults resulted in a Nagelkerke R2 = .79, with perceived behavioral control, coworker normative beliefs, parking problems at work, greater employer and community support for AC, and bad weather as predictors. Findings suggest age should be considered when examining and targeting AC behaviors.
Jessica L. Kutz, Melissa Bopp, and Lori A. Gravish Hurtack
As the need for qualified medical and allied health professions has grown, so too have the natural feeder undergraduate programs of kinesiology across the country. With an impending “enrollment cliff,” it is necessary to assess the needs of our students and be proactive in addressing curricular issues, initiatives, internship opportunities, and academic advising support. The purpose of this article is to highlight formal and informal data collection strategies and suggest solutions to undergraduate issues that pertain to retention and success. Data from current students and alumni shed light on issues that plague kinesiology programs and present unique challenges to students as they attempt to pursue careers in the medical and allied health fields. Two R1 kinesiology programs identified similarly themed issues using informal and formal data collection approaches. Those themes were undergraduate major identification, career options, curricular issues, financial concern, and emotional fortitude. Suggested solutions and current best practices are provided to address the common themes that hold our undergraduates back from achieving their career goals.
Jennifer P. Agans, Oliver W.A. Wilson, and Melissa Bopp
Objective: To assess the extent to which college student physical activity behaviors and attitudes are associated with enrollment in required, but self-selected, health and wellness courses. Participants: Data were analyzed from 1473 undergraduate students (60% women) taking health and wellness courses at a large northeastern university. Methods: Demographic characteristics and activity levels at the time of course enrollment were assessed in relation to course selection and activity levels after course completion. One-way analysis of variance tests were used to assess the differences in the characteristics of students enrolling in different types of health and wellness courses, and paired samples t tests were used to assess the differences in physical activity and related attitudes from the time of enrollment to the end of the semester. Results: Course selection was predicted by demographic characteristics and precourse activity levels. Overall, no significant change in activity levels was observed over the course of one semester, although some effects were observed within certain types of activities. Conclusions: When given the option, college students appear to select health and wellness courses that match their current activity levels. These courses do not significantly change the average student’s behavior or attitudes about physical activity.
Oliver W.A. Wilson, Scott Graupensperger, M. Blair Evans, and Melissa Bopp
Background: Entering college is associated with significant lifestyle changes and the potential adoption of a lifelong lifestyle. This study examined the longitudinal relationship between physical activity (PA) and fruit and vegetable consumption (FVC) in the hopes that findings could inform student health promotion. Methods: A total of 369 undergraduate students provided complete responses to demographic, PA, and FVC items via an online survey 3 times over a 6-month period. Random intercept cross-lagged panel modeling examined the association between PA and FVC. Results: Models demonstrated a strong fit for both moderate PA and vigorous PA. In both models, FVC, but not PA, was stable across the 3 waves. Neither model revealed a temporal association between PA and FVC. Unlike the moderate PA model, the vigorous PA model revealed a strong positive association between trait-like vigorous PA and trait-like FVC. Conclusion: The stability of FVC over time reinforces the importance of facilitating the adoption and maintenance of healthy dietary behaviors among college students, whereas the instability of PA over time highlights the importance of promoting students’ PA year round. The absence of a temporal link between PA and FVC indicates that promotion of one behavior should not be assumed to result in improvement of the other.
Oliver W.A. Wilson, Kelsey E. Holland, Lucas D. Elliott, Michele Duffey, and Melissa Bopp
Background: Investigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on both physical activity (PA) and mental health is important to demonstrate the need for interventions. This study examined the apparent impact of the pandemic on college students’ PA, perceived stress, and depressive symptoms. Methods: From 2015 through 2020, data were collected at the beginning and end of the spring semester at a large Northeastern US university via an online survey assessing student demographics, PA, perceived stress, and depressive symptoms. Mixed ANOVA examined differences in PA and mental health changes over the spring semester between “normal” and COVID-19 circumstances. Two-way ANOVA examined the interaction between circumstance and changes in PA in relation to changes in mental health. Results: Participants (n = 1019) were predominately women and non-Hispanic white. There was a significant decline in PA and an increase in perceived stress under COVID-19, but not normal, circumstances and a significant increase in depressive symptoms under COVID-19, but not normal, circumstances among women. Conclusions: A significant decline in PA and mental health among college students occurred under COVID-19 circumstances, and PA did not appear to protect against deterioration in mental health. Proactive and innovative policies, programs, and practices to promote student health and well-being must be explored immediately.
Oliver W.A. Wilson, Michael J. Panza, M. Blair Evans, and Melissa Bopp
Background: The purpose of this scoping review was to critically examine the design and quality of contemporary research involving college student physical activity participation, focusing on physical activity measurement, assessment of sociodemographic characteristics, and examination of inequities based on sociodemographic characteristics. Methods: Systematic searches were conducted in 4 electronic databases. Results: From 28,951 sources screened, data were extracted from 488 that met the inclusion criteria. The majority of the studies were cross-sectional in design (91.4%) and employed convenience sampling methods (83.0%). Based on the subsample of studies that reported the percentage of students meeting aerobic (n = 158; equivalent of 150 min/wk of moderate physical activity) and muscle-strengthening activity recommendations (n = 8; ≥2 times/wk), 58.7% and 47.8% of students met aerobic and muscle-strengthening recommendations, respectively. With the exception of age and sex, sociodemographic characteristics were rarely assessed, and inequities based upon them were even more scarcely examined—with no apparent increase in reporting over the past decade. Conclusions: College student physical activity levels remain concerningly low. The generalizability of findings from the contemporary literature is limited due to study design, and acknowledgement of the influence that sociodemographic characteristics have on physical activity has largely been overlooked. Recommendations for future research directions and practices are provided.