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Peer Mentoring to Enhance Graduate Students’ Sense of Belonging and Academic Success

Ting Liu, YuChun Chen, Michelle Hamilton, and Katie Harris

Peer mentoring is a learning process wherein a more experienced student provides advice and support to a less experienced student during their academic career. At the graduate level, peer mentoring has been shown to increase social support, career readiness, retention, and graduation rates among first-year students. In spring 2021, the Exercise Science graduate program at Texas State University initiated a peer mentoring program. The participants reported that they felt more integrated in the graduate program. Meeting and socializing with mentor/mentee have enhanced their sense of belonging and relatedness, especially during COVID, when students felt more isolated. The professional relationship made them more prone to return and strive for academic success. This article describes a peer mentoring program that has been successfully implemented in a kinesiology graduate program and makes recommendations for universities to study the impact of peer mentoring on marginalized student well-being, retention, career readiness, and academic success in future research.

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Creating and Retaining an Inclusive Graduate Program in Kinesiology

Ting Liu, Michelle Hamilton, and YuChun Chen

Over the past decade, enrollment in the exercise science graduate program at Texas State University has shown consistent growth. However, the program’s level of diversity has been low, as indicated by the college’s equity audit report. In response to the imperative of social justice and equity in the field of kinesiology, this article presents one recruitment strategy and two retention strategies aimed at fostering inclusivity in the graduate program. The recruitment strategy describes the steps to establish a partnership with Huston-Tillotson University (a historically Black university). This partnership serves as a means to create a pathway for underrepresented students to pursue graduate studies in exercise science. The two retention strategies explain how a peer-mentoring program and alumni connect can be used to foster an inclusive experience for current students and recent graduates and to promote student success and retention. The benefits of each strategy and suggestions to implement the strategies are also described.

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Recruiting and Retaining Graduate Students in Kinesiology at a Hispanic-Serving Institution

Ting Liu, Michelle Hamilton, YuChun Chen, Katie Harris, and Rushali Pandya

Over the past decade, there has been a notable increase in interest in master’s education in the United States. However, not much attention has been paid to recruiting and retaining master’s students in the field of kinesiology. This article describes recruitment and retention strategies that have been successfully implemented in a kinesiology graduate program at a Hispanic-serving institution. Recruiting from undergraduate programs, removing use of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) in graduate admissions, awarding graduate teaching assistantships, creating new programs that flow with the evolving workforce, actively promoting the program at other universities and conferences, and building partnership with other universities are described for recruiting quality master’s students. Establishing a peer/faculty mentorship program and building a strong student network/organization have been shown to have a positive impact on retention. Readers may pick and choose the strategies that work best with the student population, faculty, and other resources available in the program.

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Kinesiology Faculty Reflections on COVID-19 and Future Directions in Online Education

Kayla Baker, Melissa Bopp, Sean M. Bulger, YuChun Chen, Michele L. Duffey, Brian Myers, Dana K. Voelker, and Kaylee F. Woodard

The COVID-19 pandemic proved to be an unprecedented disruptor on college and university campuses as stakeholders at all organizational levels were challenged to consider new approaches to teaching and learning using online course modalities with very limited preparation time and faculty support. Using a case study approach, this paper reviews valuable lessons learned through the experience, particularly regarding shifts in course delivery to include online and hybrid modalities on a widespread scale. Specifically, the authors reviewed the processes, outcomes, and student perceptions associated with online and hybrid course delivery in various kinesiology courses at three different higher education institutions. The paper also offers useful perspectives for kinesiology program administrators and faculty who are contemplating the continued application of online and hybrid course formats in greater capacity postpandemic.