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Four AHS students get IAHPERD research grants

The four AHS graduate students who applied for Illinois Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (IAHPERD) Research grants were funded.

Alyssa Trad (who is advised by KCH Assistant Professor Kevin Richards), Sarah Ragab (who is co-advised by Kevin Richards and KCH Associate Professor Naiman Khan), Shelby Keye (whose advisor is Naiman Khan), Mengyi Wei (who is advised by KCH Dept. Head Kim Graber) all received funding for their projects, which are listed below.

Shelby Keye: Relationships between Physical Activity and Behavioral and Neuroelectric Indices of Motor Coordination in Children from Underserved Communities
Grant amount: $4,500
Project objective: Childhood obesity affects 1 in 4 children in the United States with implications for physical and cognitive development in children. Additionally, children of low socioeconomic status (SES) have limited structured opportunities for physical activity less active and have higher rates of overweight/obesity. Previous studies have shown that physical activity and weight status in children are related to their motor abilities. This is important to understand as a child’s motor skills can predict their physical activity participation during child- and adulthood. A neural marker of motor function is the lateralized readiness potential (LRP), an event related potential (ERP) that reveals brain activity during the preparation and activation of a motor response. Previous research has shown a relationship between the LRP and obesity in children, and with physical activity in adults. Assessing the LRP provides a novel approach to studying motor abilities and their relationship with brain activity in children. Accordingly, this study will examine the relationship between coordination skills and physical activity patterns, and the LRP in children of affected by poverty. Further we will assess differences in the coordination abilities and the LRP between children of healthy weight vs. children with obesity. We expect there will be a relationship between children’s coordination abilities, particularly their fine motor skills, and the LRP and for children with obesity to exhibit poor motor coordination abilities. Examining the LRP will provide greater insight into the relationship between brain activity and motor abilities in children. Overall, successful completion of the study aims has the potential to provide insights into how physical activity may address health disparities associated with obesity and motor development in children affected by poverty.

Sarah Ragab: The Integration of Restorative Practices in a Sport for Development Program
Grant amount: $4,500
Project objective: As physical inactivity among adolescents continues to grow, it is important to address barriers to engagement that prevent the development of healthy lifestyle habits. Evidence suggests that the development of social support through restorative practices may facilitate environments that promote youth physical activity. The purpose of this study is to apply a restorative practices intervention in a sport for development program to (a) identify the impact of restorative practices on students' physical, emotional, and cognitive performance and (b) understand the impact of psychological safety on students' perceptions of physical activity. We plan to use a case study design with mixed methods data collection. Qualitative data will include interviews, formal and informal observations, participatory field notes, and reflective journaling. Quantitative data will include attendance records, the Eriksen Flanker task, and accelerometry.

Alyssa Trad: Integrating Emotional Intelligence and Social and Emotional Learning into Preservice Teacher Education
Grant amount: $4,000
Project Objective: College students, especially education majors, have been said to experience heightened stress which can have negative effects on their mental, emotional, physical well-being, and future teaching instruction. However, when students learn to manage and cope with their emotions it can decrease the negative impacts and increase well-being. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to examine the implementation of an emotional intelligence (EI) and social emotional learning (SEL) intervention on pre-service physical education and elementary education teachers’ well-being and their confidence to work with their own students in the future.

Mengyi Wei: In-service physical education teachers’ perceptions and strategies about handling bullying
Grant amount: $5,000
Project Objective: In the United States, over 20% of students have reported being bullied (Seldin & Yanez, 2019), with younger adolescents (middle school age) reporting more bullying than older adolescents (high school age) (Kennedy, 2019). Physical education is the only organized class where students are expected to acquire psychomotor, cognitive, and affective skills in schools (Bailey, 2006), and it can be a miserable place for students when bullying cannot be handled appropriately by physical education teachers. Grounded in Occupational Socialization Theory (OST), this study aims to investigate perceptions and strategies that current physical education teachers employ to reduce and prevent bullying. Survey data will be used to determine the level of each teacher’s self-efficacy. In total, thirty-six participants will be purposefully selected to participate in interviews. This study will provide insights into how teachers’ socialization experiences influence their perceptions of bullying, and anti-bullying strategies in physical education. Given the rise in bullying behaviors in schools around the country, these findings could lead to recommendations for what strategies in-service teachers can employ to manage bullying in school. As well as what training or course physical Education Teacher Education (PETE) program can include to equip pre-service teachers with skills in bullying management.

“Mengyi, Shelby, and Sarah are all working on exciting research projects that relate to their theses and dissertations," Richards said. "Funding from these grants will prove instrumental in helping them to progress toward their goals. We are so proud of their achievements and excited to see what comes next for these three early career scholars.”

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