April 8, 2020Print | PDF
Braeden Page grew up watching what Stompin' Tom Connors famously called “the best game you can name.” Today, the Wilfrid Laurier University undergraduate student is contributing to a multi-university research project for the Ontario Hockey Federation that is examining the reasons behind a decline in the number of children registering for youth hockey.
Page is gaining firsthand experience in data collection, analysis and presentation as part of the undergraduate thesis course KP490, offered through Laurier’s Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education. The course focuses on current issues and research relevant to physical activity and health in the field of kinesiology.
“If they’re not sure about a future in research, this course can help students figure it out,” says Jennifer Robertson-Wilson, chair and associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education. “You get to pick a speciality area within the kinesiology umbrella that you want to learn more about through research practices.”
During the two-semester course, students transform a research idea into an undergraduate thesis project and complete each stage of the research process. Students select a thesis topic that aligns with their interests and work under the supervision of a faculty member to develop and deliver two presentations – a progress poster presentation halfway through the academic year and an end-of-term oral presentation.
This year, instead of traditional printed research poster displays, students were asked to develop digital progress posters. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, spring 2020 end-of-term presentations were replaced with video submissions.
During their progress presentations in December, Page and other students in the class verbally and visually detailed their studies to peers and faculty members in one of Laurier’s active learning classrooms. Page outlined the sports research framework he and his team were using, the results of his literature review and details about forthcoming focus groups.
“We wanted to find out why people are attracted to sports and why they had – or did not have – an attraction to hockey,” says Page. “What we found was that it was mostly influenced by socialization factors. If your friends aren’t playing, you’re not as inclined to play.”
Robertson-Wilson co-teaches KP490 with Laurier PhD candidate Michael Godfrey. Godfrey says the fact that students in the course come from different areas of academic specialization provides a unique opportunity to hone communication and critical thinking skills.
“Sports psychology students are presenting their proposals to exercise physiologists and neurophysiologists are asking them important questions,” says Godfrey. “This course makes students learn how to explain their research in everyday terms and consider presenting their ideas in ways that people outside their field can understand.”
Weekly guest seminars and interactive lectures about research topics including ethics, data management, writing techniques, research methods and research poster design are embedded throughout the course.
Page plans to apply to medical school during the coming year. He says the hands-on structure of KP490 helped him develop and articulate strengths in writing and research, preparing him for the future.
“There’s a culture built in Laurier undergraduate courses like these that encourages and respects students asking critical questions,” says Godfrey. “This really prepares students for graduate school or for other types of post-grad jobs.”
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