Green Sheet: CEPC 05/06-2
To: St. Olaf College Faculty
Re: Proposed Revisions to General Education Requirement for “Physical Activity”
At the October, 2005, Faculty Meeting, CEPC will move the adoption of new statements to define the general education requirement for Physical Activity (PHA) and to rename this requirement Studies in Physical Movement (SPM). These statements include (1) description (with administrative guidelines), (2) guidelines, (3) comments, (4) intended learning outcomes, and (5) a rationale for the requirement as part of St. Olaf College general education. A rationale for the proposed changes follows.
CEPC will further move that if these changes are approved, the revised SPM requirement will become one element of a set of revised GE requirements that will be implemented as a group rather than one by one.
Studies in Physical Movement (SPM) (Foundation Studies)
Studies in Physical Movement: Two courses, of any credit value, each focused on a different activity or mode of movement, that expand students’ experiences in and understanding of movement and promote lifelong health and wellness of the whole person.
1. Participants in intercollegiate sports may receive credit for one of the two required courses by enrolling in one of P ED 170-194: Intercollegiate Athletics.
2. The catalog course description for each course that meets the SPM requirement will specify which, if any, other courses may not be taken in conjunction with that course to fulfill the SPM requirement.
1. Courses must introduce and develop a physical technique by engaging students in physical movement.
2. Courses must include a cognitive component where students learn about moving.
3. Courses must provide information about lifelong health and wellness of the whole person.
4. Courses must provide historical and cultural background relevant to the activity, illustrating the wide range of roles of physical activity in human development.
1. Attention must be given to the proper interpretation of physical and tactile sensations experienced during the activity, with the goal of educating students about the wealth of information that flows to and from the body during any physical activity and about healthy responses to that information.
2. Courses must include information about properly preparing for safe participation in the activity: stretching, conditioning, nutritional issues, etc.
3. Courses must include a combination of physical activity and allied information about such things as sensation, intuition, imagination, and expression. Such instruction has the potential to contribute to the lifelong physical, social, or artistic well-being of students.
Intended Learning Outcomes:
Students will demonstrate
1. competence in and appreciation of human physical movement,
2. their understanding of the physical realm as a means of learning about themselves and others in the world, and
3. an understanding of the important role of physical movement in health and well-being.
Rationale for the SPM requirement:
The college mission states that the institution “fosters the development of the whole person in mind, body, and spirit.” Our curriculum is intentional and sophisticated in support of the mind and spirit; it is also intentional and sophisticated about learning physically. Courses satisfying the SPM requirement recognize that humans learn physically, and create learning environments that are engaging, challenging, and meaningful for the body. Opportunities afforded by these courses will allow students to become more skilled and articulate movers.
Rationale for the motion:
Dean May’s task force on General Education called for the reinvigoration of campus conversation about GE. It called for even more public statements of the convictions that underlie the curriculum. And it called for specific review of a short list of requirements. In response to these recommendations, CEPC has overseen a process of review of the guidelines and descriptions for several GE requirements (PHA, MAR, NST, MCS, BTS-T).
The present statements were drafted by CEPC on the basis of recommendations from a working group on PHA (Professors Allister, Book, Klopchin, and McKelvey). Responding to suggestions from the Dean’s task force, CEPC asked this working group in particular to address three questions: first, what is the interest of a liberal arts college in offering instruction in “structured physical activity;” second, what is the relation between our concern for wellness and our concern for instruction in physical activity; and third, should the college include attention to physical activity in our curriculum or simply offer rich co-curricular opportunities for physical activity and wellness education.
In response to the first two questions, the working group noted that the college is certainly invested in the lifelong health and wellness of its students. SPM courses develop an understanding of the ways in which physical activity contributes to health and well-being. Specific instruction on safe participation in activities, on the physical and tactile perceptions of movement, and on health and wellness issues in conjunction with physical activities can have a positive impact on a student’s lifelong physical, social, and artistic self.
In response to the third question, the working group acknowledged that the student body is generally quite physically active, but mere activity does not teach students how to interpret the wealth of information that flows to and from the body during physical activity. Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence is one of the multiple intelligences that comprises both motor skills and kinesthetic awareness of the body. Courses adhering to the new requirement will provide instruction in both skill and kinesthesia as well as put the activity into historical and cultural contexts.
The new requirement does specify two different activities or modes of movement, and this does represent a change from the current requirement, which says that “two courses may taken in the same activity provided they are at different levels” and allows one .50 Physical Education Course to satisfy the requirement. The justification for different courses is that it is important that students have a breadth of experience in their studies of physical movement to promote their lifelong engagement in some sort of physical activity. (To ensure that students know which activities are different, the catalog course description for each course that meets the SPM requirement will specify which, if any, other courses may not be taken in conjunction with that one to fulfill the SPM requirement.)
The proposed changes allow for but do not require students to take more credit hours than they currently take to satisfy this requirement. An IRP study (August 2004) indicated that a large number of students (48.9%) in the Class of 2004 completed more than .50 PHA credits. Furthermore, a small number (7%) completed their PHA requirement by taking only one course. The PHA working group anticipates that nearly all of the courses currently carrying the PHA attribute will qualify for the SPM attribute, thus there should be minimal staffing implications.
The new SPM requirement reaffirms the importance of physical learning in a liberal arts curriculum, but introduces both a stronger cognitive component and a stronger connection to health and wellness of the whole person than the current PHA requirement. Although the new description and guidelines puts greater emphasis on these aspects of the requirement, most PHA courses already include a cognitive component and discussion of the health and wellness of the whole person. (CEPC together with GEC will develop a mechanism for current PHA courses to apply for the new SPM designation. )
This is the first of several anticipated changes to GE requirements. To encourage full discussion and deliberation, each of these anticipated changes will be discussed and voted on separately. To keep administrative tasks manageable, the changes will be implemented as a group. If the discussions and voting can be concluded by this spring, approved changes would appear in the 06-08 catalog and take effect with students entering in the fall of 2006. CEPC together with the Registrar’s Office will develop a mechanism for making the transition from the old GE requirements to the new GE requirements.