Improving Engagement With Biomechanics: Student Perspectives and a Professional Development Initiative
Student engagement is an essential aspect of educational environments, and this is especially true for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines, where student engagement declines in middle and high school years. Techniques for bolstering student engagement, such as hands-on learning, may be especially effective in the field of biomechanics since this discipline is rooted in STEM and has fundamental applications to everyday movement. To this end, this paper describes 1) the perceptions of student teachers in their first year of tertiary (undergraduate) education regarding the biomechanics content from their secondary (high school) education, and 2) a professional development initiative, in the form of a discipline specific teacher training workshop, to enhance biomechanics resources for teachers via peer networking. The perception of student teachers in their first year of tertiary education in teaching indicated a positive relationship between perception of secondary school teaching quality and self-confidence with specific biomechanical concepts. Open responses focused on the need to cover concepts thoroughly, using practical activities where possible, and taking time to ensure understanding before progressing to more advanced concepts. The teacher training workshop provided secondary school Physical Education teachers with an opportunity to network nationally with other teachers across New Zealand, and internationally with university-based biomechanics researchers. Peer focus groups helped to design and refine sets of experiential learning activities that could be easily implemented in the classroom.