The Undergraduate Core in Kinesiology
The American Kinesiology Association (AKA) defines kinesiology as the academic discipline that involves the study of physical activity and its impact on health, society, and quality of life. Kinesiology draws on several sources of knowledge including knowledge gained through scholarly study and research, knowledge gained from professional practices centered on physical activity, and knowledge gained from personal physical activity experiences.
The AKA believes that one of the defining features of the academic discipline of Kinesiology is its embrace and integration of the multi dimensional study and application of physical activity. Kinesiology explores not only biological, medical and health-related aspects of human movement, but also psychological, social-humanistic, and professional perspectives.
Kinesiology departments are often comprised of several specialized areas of study such as biomechanics, sociocultural foundations of sport, sport and exercise psychology, exercise physiology, motor behavior, physical education teacher education, athletic training, sport medicine, and sport management, all of which are viewed by the AKA as either fundamental building blocks of the field or professional applications of our discipline. The AKA understands and supports that all academic departments do not necessarily interpret the building blocks of our field in the same manner, and that all departments will not necessarily offer all possible areas of specialization.
In 2009 the AKA sponsored a national workshop that examined the core curriculum in Kinesiology. There was broad agreement that there is a need to achieve consensus concerning the essential elements of the undergraduate core in Kinesiology. In essence, we need to agree on what it is that every undergraduate Kinesiology major should know or be able to do.
However, the AKA believes that agreeing on core content knowledge is not the same as mandating that all departments require a specific set of core courses. How the core content is packaged for delivery and the precise manner in which the core content is covered will differ among kinesiology programs across the nation. The AKA as an association strongly supports the concept of local responsibility for the academic curriculum. In today’s university environment, an individual department of kinesiology would be stressed to offer all of the diverse elements of kinesiology (just as departments of history, physics, English, or other academic departments seldom represent the full scope of their academic disciplines). Decisions regarding what is to be included in each department’s curriculum should be made locally.
Nevertheless, the AKA believes that it is important to identify a set of principles and experiences that are central to the discipline and that all kinesiology graduates should be expected to understand and appreciate. Accordingly, all Kinesiology departments have a responsibility to ensure that all Kinesiology students are required to have learning experiences related to the core elements identified in this document. However, the level and depth of study of the various components of the core may vary according to the specialization and/or career goal of the students and/or focus of the department. In some units it may make sense to deliver the core curriculum through a series of discrete courses focused on specific components of the AKA core. In other departments, the core content may be provided using a more “distributed” model with core knowledge broadly integrated into numerous courses across the entire curriculum. Both approaches are acceptable.