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An extension of TPSR—The Kinesiology Career Club

This is an excerpt from Using Physical Activity and Sport to Teach Personal and Social Responsibility by Doris Watson and Brian Clocksin.


Create deeper, more positive connections with students and nurture their personal and social growth with
Using Physical Activity and Sport to Teach Personal and Social Responsibility.

The Kinesiology Career Club

David Walsh

Program Description

The Kinesiology Career Club (KCC) is an extension of TPSR with the primary goal of helping inner-city youth envision and discover meaningful, positive “possible futures.” The more specific goals of KCC for the youth are as follows:

  • To maximize motivation to improve in, stay in, and find relevance in school
  • To enhance connection between the TPSR goals of respect, effort, goal setting, and leadership skills and the importance they play in youths’ futures
  • To chart the necessary steps to first become a professional in kinesiology, which provides practical experience in a specific career
  • To chart the necessary steps for their own careers of choice and developing strategies for matriculating and graduating from college

The program takes place in San Francisco at Mission High School, a low-performing inner-city school. It began in spring 2011 and will be ongoing every spring and fall semester. The program runs for 80 minutes every Tuesday and Thursday over the entire semester during second-period physical education. Current KCC students include five girls and nine boys who are all ninth graders. The high school has a diverse population with the following ethnicity breakdown: 14 percent African American, 23 percent Asian, 46 percent Latino, 9 percent Caucasian, and 8 percent other. The KCC students closely reflect this diversity.

As a university–community collaboration, KCC is also part of a course offered at San Francisco State University (SFSU) to graduating kinesiology seniors. Called “SFSU Mentors,” six to eight seniors are selected to conduct their capstone kinesiology course in the community by helping me run this program. I am the lead instructor of KCC, and the SFSU Mentors help lead various physical activities—a combination of martial arts, weight training, dance, and fitness activities—and mentor the students on positive “possible futures” in either a 1-to-1 or 2-to-1 ratio for the final 15 minutes of every session.

Use of TPSR Model

The KCC goals progress through four phases. Each phase allows for the systematic application of TPSR within the program, as well as providing opportunities for students to engage the model as they move through the program.

Phase One Goals

In phase one we use TPSR daily format and strategies to introduce the program, including the various physical activities. This phase focuses on Level I, respect, and Level II, effort. We aim to begin building relationships with the students, have them voice their opinions about the program content and structure, and introduce the field of kinesiology. We also introduce the combined TPSR reflection time and mentoring time, a significant component of the positive “possible futures” emphasis that takes place throughout the program. We talk about our own choice to study kinesiology, connect the physical activities in KCC to the basis and foundation of the field of kinesiology, bridge Levels I and II to the idea of being successful in kinesiology, encourage the students to talk about their own career interests, and begin to get to know and develop relationships with them.

Phase Two Goals

Once phase one goals are mostly achieved, phase two begins to empower the students to take on the advanced TPSR responsibilities (Level III, goal setting; Level IV, leadership). Students are asked to set goals for martial arts, weight training, dance, or fitness skills. They are also encouraged to take on small leadership experiences by way of teaching the activities they worked on during goal-setting time. We encourage the students to consider a career in at least one of the many subdisciplines of kinesiology, connect the physical activities and goal setting and leadership in the program to being successful in the field of kinesiology, and begin to chart the steps to earning a college degree in kinesiology. Phase two also aims at having students reflect on what they are currently doing in school and out of school that could either help or hinder their futures.

Phase Three Goals

Once phase two goals are mostly achieved, phase three continues to empower the students to work on TPSR Levels I through IV. Goal-setting time and leadership roles are extended so that students take on more responsibility. We introduce the potential transference of the steps to a career in kinesiology to the development of responsibility traits necessary for the students’ future careers of choice. The idea is to link phase two experiences of understanding how to be successful in kinesiology to understanding what success would mean in the students’ own careers of choice. Students actively reflect on what they would like to pursue as a career and effectively discover ways to link what they learned about kinesiology to their own future career interests. We also introduce the importance of having both potential hopes and potential fears—as suggested by the theory of possible selves (Oyserman, Terry, & Bybee 2002)—and doing the hard work as well as having the positive attitude and preparation needed for success.

Phase Four Goals

After students have mostly achieved phase three goals, phase four continues to empower them to work on responsibility Levels I through IV. We introduce Level V, outside the gym, and address how what the students do in school, at home, and in the streets affects their futures. Phase four discussions focus solely on the students’ careers of choice. We further reinforce the connection between the TPSR levels and what might prove necessary for the practical realization of their possible futures, including both potential hopes and fears. We provide additional insight into the degree of hard work, positive attitude, and preparation needed for the realization of their possible futures.

Additional Program Elements

Since KCC is run through in-school physical education, we have to integrate traditional physical education elements such as uniform requirements and fitness testing into the program. Unlike after-school programs that students may choose to attend, attending KCC is mandatory. Mission High School has been very supportive of the program and has given us complete autonomy with respect to fulfilling the goals of KCC. It is a collaboration we plan to continue for several years.

Even though KCC has some goals that differ from those of a regular TPSR program, we are able to keep a TPSR focus by systematically implementing the components of a regular TPSR daily format. Each session has relationship time, an awareness talk, physical activities designed as a way for the students to experience the responsibility levels, a group meeting, and a reflection time. Some of the KCC goals require alteration of the TPSR components. For example, a KCC awareness talk includes how the levels relate to the students’ futures, and discussions focus on the field of kinesiology. Reflection time takes place with the guidance of SFSU Mentors, which students document in a journal. Students are asked to reflect not only on the levels but also on how they are performing in school and are exploring a “possible future,” first in kinesiology and then in their own careers of choice. An effective strategy has been providing information on the various subdisciplines of kinesiology to give the students the opportunity to find relevance in at least one of them. Some students easily identify with kinesiology as a “possible future” while others connect only with being physically active as an important issue in their lives. As the program progresses, discussions about their own career interests seem to get more detailed and authentic.

Keeping SITE

Though KCC has different goals and purposes, it is still an extension of TPSR. It is crucial for us to keep SITE of the four TPSR themes. KCC includes TPSR’s prioritization of the instructor–student relationship through the concern for each student’s emotional, social, and physical well-being. KCC is also empowerment based, giving students various leadership roles, providing goal-setting time, giving them a voice in the program’s direction, and enabling them to evaluate both themselves and the program. The difference is in how the TPSR levels are integrated into the physical activities as a way to explore a career in kinesiology. Once this is established, then transference of the levels to enhance the students’ understanding and exploration of their own careers of interest can occur. KCC is still in its early phases of development and will change as the program evolves, but TPSR will continue to be the foundation and core of the program.




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