The purpose of this inquiry was to explore the role of pedometers in enhancing student engagement in a university televised distance education course. Moore and Kearsley (1996) explain that transactional distance exists in distance education classes because instructors and students do not interact in the same physical space. This distance can negatively impact student engagement and quality of learning. Moore (1989) reported that there are three types of interactions that encourage engagement one of which is learner-content interaction (interacting with course material). One way to provide for learner-content interaction is to offer authentic activities where students become immersed in an assignment where the knowledge they are learning can be realistically applied (Herrington, Oliver and Reeves 2003).
Students enrolled in Kinesiology & Health Studies 139, a distance education class offered by the University of Regina, learn about theories relating to the content and methodology of movement education as it relates specifically to the elementary school child. As part of the requirements for the course students were required to wear a pedometer everyday for eight weeks and record the number of steps. Once a week they were to reflect in a journal on the use of the pedometer tying in information discussed in class.
Analysis of students’ pedometer calendars and journals indicated that the pedometer assignment offered an authentic learning activity that increased student engagement. Students reported that the assignment enabled them to critically think about material learned in class and apply it to their own lives (e.g. assessing activity levels, setting goals, overcoming challenges and experiencing health benefits). Further, some of the pre-service teachers enrolled in the class suggested that the assignment allowed them to critically think about the current obesity epidemic and how adoption of this assignment in their future classes could help encourage elementary students to become more active.
|Keywords:||Student Engagement, Distance Education, Pedometers, Authentic Activities, Obesity|
Research Assistant & Graduate Student, Faculty of Kinesiology & Health Studies, University of Regina, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
Professor, Faculty of Kinesiology & Health Studies, University of Regina, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
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