Tan Leng Goh

Tan Leng Goh

Exercise and Sport Science/College of Health


Physical Education and Science Come Together

Faculty Mentor: James Hannon - Exercise and Sport Science/College of Health


Adult and childhood obesity has become an epidemic in the United States and many developed countries. Lack of physical activity and poor dietary behaviors are the main causes of obesity, which may lead to heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers and weight-related health problems (Carandente, Roveda, Montaruli, & Pizzini, 2009). Teachers often provide opportunities for physical activity and serve as healthy role models for children and adolescents (Cardinal & Cardinal, 2002). Therefore, it is important for teachers to acquire a foundational knowledge of and embrace the importance of physical education and health.

At the University of Utah, undergraduate and graduate education majors who want to obtain a teacher licensure to teach in K-12 schools do so through the Urban Institute for Teacher Education (College of Education). In the past, education majors were required to take a 3-credit unit class (ESS 3500 - Physical Education for the Elementary School) from the Exercise and Sport Science department (College of Health). However this requirement was removed in summer 2007, due to a curriculum change in the College of Education. The purpose of ESS 3500 was to provide future classroom teachers with the information necessary to develop a quality physical education (PE) program based upon the National Physical Education Standards (National Association for Sport and Physical Education, n.d.). Recognizing the importance for education majors to acquire knowledge in PE, the two departments collaborated with the objective to integrate PE with the Science Methods Course during the academic year, 2010-2011. Integrative learning will be the theoretical framework for this study. Integrative learning is a higher education concept that helps students make connections between fields, and curricula, or between academic knowledge and practice. The purpose of this study is to examine education majors’ responses towards the collaboration program. In addition, challenges in learning through this integrative approach will be explored through the study.


Pilot integrative strategies were implemented in fall 2010. Refined integrative strategies will be carried out in the spring 2011 semester. At the end of the spring 2011 semester, I plan to conduct semi-structured interviews with a sample of the education majors (10 participants) in the integration program. Each interview will be approximately one hour in length. Interviews will be conducted at a place and time convenient for the participants. All the interviews will be digitally recorded and transcribed verbatim. In addition, I will document visual observation and verbal interactions with the participants in my field notes to form part of the qualitative data throughout the spring semester. Participant observation is a good strategy to capture nuanced responses of the participants towards the integration program. Their responses in the interviews can be used as suggestions for improvements towards future integration programs. In addition, I plan to present my findings at conferences and at faculty meetings to inform others about students’ responses and challenges in learning in an integration program. The final product of this project will be a manual with a list of strategies for future students from my department who will take over my current role in this integration program.


An integrated learning experience in higher education is beneficial and enables students to see connections across content areas and understand how to explore subjects through inquiry (Grace & Picard, 2002). With budget cuts and curriculum change in higher education, there is potential for the integration of academic subjects to provide a holistic education to the students. Infusing a new topic into an existing curriculum is a challenging task initially, especially when the two subjects have different objectives at the beginning. Nevertheless, the successful implementation of this project will provide a platform through which future interdisciplinary collaborations will be possible.