Research Programs

  • Research
  • Teacher's Values and Beliefs
  • Student Engagement
  • Cognitive Conceptions

A research program is a series of studies conducted over a number of years to examine a significant topic in great depth. Scholars develop research programs to study a phenomenon or construct in detail from many different perspectives. I have conducted research associated with three such research programs: Teachers' Values and Beliefs, Student Engagement, and Cognitive Conceptions. For each I have examined several variables associated with the phenomenon in an effort to create a more complete understanding each variables' role in enhancing or constraining student learning.

I have written a tutorial article for the Journal of Teaching in Physical Education (1999, Vol. 18,129-140) that discusses the development of research programs in more detail.

Each of these programs has consumed a decade of my professional career and has led to a number of publications and presentations on these topics. Although a scholar never really completes a research program, occasionally there are factors that lead one to place less emphasis on one program as data and professional interests evolve into a new set of issues, initiating the next research program. Each new program is connected to the previous program and serves as a conceptual foundation influencing each new step. Currently, I am entering a very exciting time in my career as my interests in teachers' beliefs and student engagement is leading me to initiate a research program examining student learning of cognitive concepts in physical education described as Conceptual Change.

In each section, I provide a brief description of each of these research programs. You will find

  • background information and a description of the program,
  • an overview of the research findings generated in that research program,
  • and a list of publications that resulted from these efforts.

Although the research program examining Conceptual Change is in its initial stages, it is influenced by my previous research at the University of Wisconsin investigating students' knowledge conceptions. If you are a considering graduate work (masters or doctoral) at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and are interested in studying with me as your major advisor, you should read this section with care to determine if you are interested in studying curriculum theory and development in physical education with a focus on conceptual change.

I have been fortunate to work with a number of outstanding colleagues and graduate students in each of these programs. Please note their names on the publication lists. Their intelligence, creativity, humor, and persistence have been instrumental in the development of these programs and the publication of our research.

Overview of Findings
Value Orientation Inventory

I became interested in Teachers’ Beliefs and Values as a graduate student at the University of Georgia when my advisor, Dr. Ann E. Jewett, structured in-depth graduate student seminars on the topic of Value Orientations. Ann led these detailed philosophical discussions with her graduate students to examine each orientation and its potential influence on curriculum theory and development. These discussions supported by extensive literature critiques prepared me to begin my research efforts to measure Teachers’ Value Beliefs and Value Orientations as an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin. The development of the Value Orientation Inventory (VOI) and subsequent revisions (VOI-2) with Dr. Ang Chen provided the framework for studies examining experienced teachers’ value orientations. Currently, a shorten version of the (VOI-SF) has been validated by Dr. Chen and is available by contacting him.

Over the years other scholars have used the Value Orientation Inventory in a variety of research. It has been translated into 6 languages (Chinese, French, Hebrew, Dutch, Spanish, and German) using a rigorous translation protocol first employed by Dr. Dominque Banville. It has also been revised slightly to be applicable for use by researchers in other subject areas, although to my knowledge, research from this version has yet to be published. Copies of the VOI-2, scoring guide, and list of publications examining value orientations using the VOI inventories are available for download from this website.

A Note of Caution When Using the VOI
It is important to remember when considering the use of the VOI-2 that it was validated with an experienced population of physical educators (average teaching experience = 17 years). This population appears to have fairly stable value orientations, perhaps due to the fact that they have developed and tested their educational belief systems systematically over time. Conversely, scholars who wish to use the VOI-2 to examine the beliefs of other populations, such as pre-service and novice physical education teachers, should first validate the VOI-2 with these populations and report this validation process with the findings.

In this section I outline some of our most relevant findings using the VOI, VOI-2, and VOI-SF, provide a list of our publications associated with the construct of teachers’ values and beliefs, and include a copy of the VOI-2 and scoring guide for interested scholars and students.

Overview of Findings from Research on Teachers’ Values and Beliefs

  • Teachers’ beliefs and values directly influence their choices of content topics, their willingness to enthusiastically teach a curriculum, and the nature of their instructional and assessment decisions.
  • This research began with the development and evaluation of the Value Orientation Inventory (Ennis & Hooper, 1984; Ennis & Chen, 1993) that used a forced choice format to rank teachers’ priorities for content selection. Findings from this research confirmed that teachers’ have strong beliefs that are highly influential in their selection of content and teaching methods.
  • Several studies conducted with Dr. Ang Chen and others (Ennis, 1994; Ennis & Chen, 1993, 1995; Ennis, Chen, & Ross, 1992; Ennis, Cothran, & Loftus, 1997; Ennis, Ross, & Chen, 1992; Ennis & Zhu, 1991) examined the influence of teachers’ value orientations on their curricular, teaching, and assessment decisions. Findings suggest that when teachers control their educational setting, they can and do make curricular, instructional and assessment decisions that reflect many aspects of their value orientation profile.
  • Further, when teachers’ distribute their educational priorities over diverse value perspectives (i.e., disciplinary, learning process, social, student-centered) instead of focusing on one or two high priority perspective, they were unable to convey a clear message about the content and value of the physical education curriculum. Students appeared to learn very little in these teachers’ classrooms (Ennis & Chen, 1995; Ennis & Zhu, 1991).
  • A new curriculum must be presented to teachers in a way that emphasizes the match between teachers’ current beliefs and the curriculum. Professional development workshops should be designed to emphasis the value of the curriculum and its applicability to current physical education standards and goals for enhancing students’ voluntary participation in physical activity.
  • Teacher beliefs about the value of the content and its relevance and meaning to students played a role in their motivation to teach the curriculum (Ennis, 1994)

Publications Reporting Findings about Teachers’ Values and Beliefs

Ennis, C.D., & Hooper, L.M. (1988). Development of an instrument for assessing educational value orientations. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 20, 277-280.

Ennis, C.D., Mueller, L.K., & Hooper, L.M. (1990). The influence of teacher value orientations on curriculum planning within the parameters of a theoretical framework. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 61, 360-368.

Jewett, A.E., & Ennis, C.D. (1990). Ecological integration as a value orientation for curricular decision making. Journal of Curriculum and Supervision, 5, 120-131.

Ennis, C.D. (1990). Analyzing curriculum as participant perspectives. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 9, 79-94.

Ennis, C.D., & Zhu, W. (1991). Value orientations: A description of teachers’ goals for student learning. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 62, 33-40.

Ennis, C.D. (1992). Curriculum theory as practiced: Case studies of operationalized value orientations. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 11(4), 358-375.

Ennis, C.D. (1992). Reconceptualizing learning as a dynamical system. Journal of Curriculum and Supervision, 7, 115-130.

Ennis, C.D. (1992). The influence of value orientations in curricular decision making. Quest, 44(3), 317-329.

Ennis, C.D., Chen, A., & Ross, J. (1992). Educational value orientations as a theoretical framework for experienced urban teachers’ curricular decision making. Journal of Research and Development in Education, 25, 156-163.

Ennis, C.D., Ross, J., & Chen, A. (1992). The role of value orientations in curricular decision making: A rationale for teachers’ goals and expectations. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 63, 38-47.

Ennis, C.D., & Chen, A. (1993). Domain specifications and content representativeness of the revised Value Orientation Inventory (VOI-2). Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 64(1), 436-446.

Ennis, C.D. (1994). Knowledge and beliefs underlying curricular expertise. Quest, 46, 165-175.

Ennis, C.D. (1994). Urban secondary teachers’ value orientations: Delineating curricular goals for social responsibility. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 13, 163-179.

Ennis, C.D. (1994). Urban secondary teachers’ value orientations: Social goals for teaching. Teaching & Teacher Education, 10(1), 109-120.

Ennis, C.D. & Chen, A. (1995).Teachers’ value orientations in urban and rural school settings. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 66(1), 41-50.

Ennis, C.D. (1996). A model describing the influence of values and context on student learning. In S. Silverman & C.D. Ennis, (Eds.), Student learning in physical education: Applying research to enhance instruction (pp. 127-148).Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Ennis, C.D., Cothran, D.J., & Loftus, S.J. (1997). The influence of teachers’ educational beliefs on their knowledge organization. Journal of Research and Development in Education, 30, 73-86.

Chen, A., Liu, Z., & Ennis, C.D. (1997). Universality and uniqueness of teacher educational value orientations: A cross-cultural comparison between USA and China (VOI-SF). Journal of Research and Development in Education, 30(3), 135-143.

Zhu, W., Ennis, C.D., & Chen, A. (1998). Modeling experts’ judgment in test development. Measurement in Physical Education and Exercise Science, 2, 21-40.

Value Orientation Inventory (VOI-2)

VOI -Inventory
VOI -Scoring Guide

Overview of Findings

Extensive research in public schools examining teachers’ values and beliefs raised interesting questions about the impact of educational situations or contexts on the extent to which teachers could plan, teach, and assess in a manner consistent with their beliefs. We became aware of teachers who had very clear value orientation profiles, who could articulate and elaborate their value perspectives cogently, but when observed, were not teaching in a manner consistent with their value perspectives. Because one of our earlier findings indicated that many teachers taught consistently with their perspectives, this line of research began with the examination of conditions under which teacher did not or could not teach in a manner that was consistent with their value orientation profiles.

In the course of this research program, a number of variables were examined such as organizational and management skills, ability to teach effectively, and administrative support, including instructional time, facilities and equipment. However, in the urban schools in which we routinely conduct our research, the most salient factor that constrained teacher ability to teach their values was their (a) knowledge content, (b) knowledge of teaching methods consistent with their value profile, and (c) ability to engage students effectively in the content.

This research program included qualitative research studies examining factors in the teaching environment including curricular and teaching practices that disrupted the instructional process. The research relied on in-depth observations of physical education lessons and extensive interviews with students, teachers and administrators. Although we agreed with physical educators that disruptive students made it very difficult to teach content, we looked more deeply at the pedagogical practices that appeared to trigger student disruptions.

As our research continued, we developed a better understanding of content and pedagogical presentations that could engage even the “most disruptive” students. We developed these perspectives into a coherent curriculum model based directly on the Sport Education model (Siedentop, 1995). The new “Sport for Peace” curriculum was examined extensively in middle and high schools. This curriculum approach enhanced the interest that students had in the content, increased the mutual respect between teachers and students, assisted students to be more personally and socially responsible, helped them to care for others and to use conflict negotiation skills to resolve social issues during class time. In fact, students explained this approach as helping the physical education class feel like a “family.” This sense of family translated into a higher level of student engagement with a resulting increase in student knowledge and skill.

Overview of Findings Associated with Student Engagement

  • Students’ disruptive behaviors directly impact teachers’ ability and willingness to teach a given curriculum. Curricular structures and the pedagogical presentation of the curriculum should engage students actively and authentically in learning.
  • In examinations of teachers who advocated the social responsibility value orientation (Ennis, Chen & Ross, 1992; Ennis, Ross, & Chen, 1992), we presented evidence that a major factor contributing to teacher adoption of a social perspective’ on learning was the presence of disruptive students in their class or school.
  • Not surprising, when teachers were unable to control their students, they began to espouse a belief that students should be taught to be more responsible, often in place of the physical education content.
  • Follow-up research (Ennis, 1995, 1996, 1998a 1998b; Ennis et al., 1997) to examine this phenomenon provided rich descriptive accounts of student disruption and disengagement and the impact of these on teachers’ willingness to try new ideas and to maintain energy and interest in teaching.
  • Thus, not only teachers’ beliefs but also the challenges of teaching and learning in urban schools appeared to be significant factors constraining the adoption of innovative approaches to curriculum Ennis, 1995, 1996, 1998a 1998b; Ennis et al., 1997).
    Evidence from this research indicated that students were most likely to disengage or confront the teacher when they felt the teacher was not making an effort to teach.
  • Disruptive students argued that if the teacher was not willing to make an effort to present the content meaningfully, then why should they sit patiently and endure a boring lesson? They questioned why they should be obedient when they knew they were not learning and could not learn when teachers simply lectured or required them to complete worksheets. They explained that they learned most effectively and could become interested and engaged in the content when it was presented in active, enjoyable formats.
  • Students reported they enjoyed games, skits, role playing, and other activities in which they could move around the classroom and interact with others. The students outlined a number of strategies consistent with social constructivist learning theories they said enhanced their interest and ability to learn. Likewise, teachers reported they were more successful when they used active, problem-solving learning strategies to help students engage in the curriculum content and make it meaningful in their lives. Many of these strategies involve active, in-depth learning experiences and authentic performances as the means for formative and summative evaluation of learning (Darling-Hammond, 1997). It is critical that there be a close match between the curriculum and teaching methods and students’ interests, needs, and learning preferences.
  • Students engaged in active, in-depth learning characterized by multiple opportunities to interact socially and playfully with the content.
  • Teachers often responded positively when presented with coached opportunities to test these curricula in their own classrooms with their own students to confirm its effectiveness.
  • Students’ perceptions of interest and engagement are enhanced significantly when physical activity curricula include a cognitive component.
  • Similar to evidence provided by Ennis and colleagues (Ennis, Cothran, Stockin, et al., 1997; Cothran & Ennis, 1997), Chen’s research (Chen, 1998; Chen & Ennis, 1996, 2004) confirmed that a lack of cognitive and affective meaningfulness was cited by students as the primary reason why they thought learning physical activities were boring.
  • The presence of cognitive and affective information in the content contributed significantly to sources of situational interest.
  • Evidence from Chen’s research indicated that, for a physically active learning task to be interesting, it must be relatively novel to students and should provide students with moderate, but not excessive levels of physical challenge (Chen & Ennis, 1996).
  • Further, the task/activity should demand high levels of cognitive attention, promote and strengthen students’ desire for exploration, and provide students with instant enjoyment when engaging in the task (Chen, 1998).
  • Effective curricula integrate cognitive and physical task components to enhance students’ feelings of novelty, perceptions of moderate challenge, opportunities to explore meaningful knowledge, and high levels of instant enjoyment (Chen, 1998).
  • Student learning and teachers’ and students’ willingness to engage can be increased using a social-constructivist curricula.
  • Research (Ennis, 1999a; Ennis 1999b; Ennis et al., 1999) in urban high schools focused on designing and evaluating a constructivist curriculum that addressed the concerns of disruptive and disengaged students within a format that teachers would accept and implement.
  • The Sport for Peace curriculum used active, problem-solving tasks that encouraged students to take ownership of the content and pride in their accomplishments (Ennis, 1999a; Ennis 1999b; Ennis et al., 1999).
  • As a result of this research we provided evidence that formally dominant aggressive students responded positively and were proud of their teams’ success, while formerly intimidated students, many of whom were girls (Ennis, 1999a), were more willing to participate and contribute to the team’s efforts. Teachers were amazed at students’ willing responses to the curriculum.
  • Teachers acknowledged that using problem solving tasks and providing students with ownership of decisions within their team created a powerful curriculum (Ennis et al., 1999).
  • The Sport for Peace Curriculum (a) changed the atmosphere dramatically from a disruptive to a learning-oriented environment, (b) used strategies that resulted in a more interesting curriculum to teach and one that stimulated and rewarded teacher’s efforts, and (c) was consistent with teachers’ beliefs about physical education, increasing the likelihood that the program would continue (Ennis et al., 1999).

Publications Reporting Student Engagement Findings

Ennis, C.D. (1994). Urban secondary teachers' value orientations: Delineating curricular goals for social responsibility. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 13, 163-179.

Ennis, C.D. (1994). Urban secondary teachers' value orientations: Social goals for teaching. Teaching and Teacher Education, 10(1), 109-120.

Ennis, C.D. (1995). Teachers' responses to noncompliant students: The realities and consequences of a negotiated curriculum. Teaching and Teacher Education, 11, 445-460.

Ennis, C. D. (1996). Students’ experiences in sport-based physical education: [More than] Apologies are necessary. Quest, 48, 454-457.

Ennis, C.D. (1996). When avoiding confrontation leads to avoiding content: Disruptive students' impact on curriculum. Journal of Curriculum and Supervision, 11, 145-162.

Chen, A., & Ennis, C.D. (1996). Teaching value-laden curricula in physical education. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 15, 338-354.

Cothran, D.J., & Ennis, C.D. (1997). Students and teachers’ perceptions of conflict and power. Teaching and Teacher Education, 13, 541-553.

Ennis, C.D., Cothran, D.J., Stockin, K.D., Owens, L.M., Loftus, S.J., Swanson, L., & Hopsicker, P. (1997). Implementing curriculum within a context of fear and disengagement. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 17, 58-72.

Ennis, C.D. (1998). The context of culturally unresponsive curriculum: Constructing ethnicity and gender within a contested terrain. Teaching and Teacher Education, 14, 749-760.

Cothran, D.J., & Ennis, C.D. (1998). Curricula of mutual worth: Comparisons of students' and teachers' curricular goals. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 17, 307-326.

Cothran, D.J., & Ennis, C.D. (1999). Alone in a crowd: Meeting students’ needs for relevance and connection in urban high school physical education. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 18, 234-247.

Ennis, C.D. (1999). The theoretical framework: The central piece in the research plan. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 18,129-140.

Ennis, C.D. (1999). Creating a culturally relevant curriculum for disengaged girls. Sport, Education, and Society, 4, 31-49.

Ennis, C.D. (1999). Communicating the value of active, healthy lifestyles to urban students. Quest, 51, 164-169.

Ennis, C.D., Solmon, M.A., Satina, B. Loftus, S.J., Mensch, J., & McCauley, M.T. (1999) Creating a sense of family in urban schools using the “Sport for Peace” Curriculum.  Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 70, 273-285.

Cothran, D.J., & Ennis, C.D. (2000). Building bridges to student engagement: Communicating respect and care for students in urban high schools. Journal of Research and Development in Education, 23, 106-117.

Ennis, C.D. (2000). Canaries in the coal mine: Responding to disengaged students using theme-based curricula. Quest, 52, 119-130.

Cothran, D.J., & Ennis, C.D. (2001). "Nobody said nothing about learning stuff": Students, teachers, and curricular change. Journal of Classroom Interaction, 36, 1-5.

Ennis, C. D., & McCauley, M.T. (2002). Creating urban classroom communities worthy of trust. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 34, 149-172.

Azzarito, L., & Ennis, C.D. (2003). A sense of connection: Toward social constructivist physical education. Sport, Education, and Society.

Chen, A., & Ennis, C.D. (2004). The role of achievement based interest in curricular effectiveness. Journal of Educational Research, 97, 329-338.

Owens, L. & Ennis, C.D. (2005). The ethic of care in teaching: An overview of supportive literature. Quest, 57, 392-425. This article won the American Educational Research Association, Research on Learning and Instruction in Physical Education, Exemplary Paper Award, 2005.

Ennis, C.D. (2006). Curriculum: Forming and reshaping the vision of physical education in a high need, low demand world of schools. Quest, 58, 41-59.

Chen, A., Martin, R., Sun, H., & Ennis, C. D. (2007). Is physical activity at risk in constructivist physical education? Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport.78, 500-509.

Teachers' and Students Conceptions of Knowledge
Conceptual Change
Overview of Findings
NIH Funded Research

Teachers’ and Students’ Conceptions of Knowledge

In the early 1990’s I worked as a junior faculty member with my distinguished University of Wisconsin colleagues, Dr. Margaret J. Safrit and Dr. Fran Nagel, to examine teachers’ and students’ information retrieval and decision-making. We conducted a series of studies examining a computer-based program that students used to generate fitness prescriptions. Using a novice-expert comparison protocol, we analyzed novice subjects’ thought processes when analyzing computer case studies and prescribing fitness programs to address specific client needs. We then compared the novices’ solutions processes to those of experts.

In a related set of studies, I worked with Dr. Joanne Lazarus, also a colleague at the University of Wisconsin, to compare the solutions of field dependent and independent elementary students on ball retrieval tasks. By adjusting the demands of the tasks, we learned that we could encourage young students to think differently about movement problems and to adjust the strategies they used to solve the problems. I continued this research with field dependent and independent students examining difference in their approaches to a variety of physical education tasks within a movement education curriculum. Working with several other colleagues and graduate students, we designed a series of classroom strategies and tasks philosophically consistent with a movement education curricular perspective to address the needs of field dependent children learning within this complex curriculum.

In 2003, Dr. Ang Chen and I (Ennis, PI) received a 5 year NIH grant to design, implement, evaluate, and disseminate a new science-based curriculum. The purpose of the curriculum was to increase 3rd – 5th grade students’ knowledge and interest in fitness based physical education curriculum. Working with Elaine Lindsay, NASPE teacher of the year and Maryland AHPERD Executive Director, and a host of graduate students, we explored how students’ learned cognitive fitness concepts.

Conceptual Change

Defined within the parameters of the National Standards in Physical Education and Science Education, this research is based on the Framework Theory of Conceptual Change (Vosnaidou, 1994) and examines how students’ beliefs about knowledge influences their acquisition, organization, and utilization of knowledge. In the process we are investigating students’ naïve theories and how these evolve through a series of synthetic models to become more like the models used by their teachers’ and other science and fitness experts. Although student “errors” or “mistakes” have been described traditionally as misconceptions, we follow Vosnaidou’s and Alexander’s (2006) perspective that they are, instead, naïve theories that serve as scaffolds to build more complex and sophisticated conceptual understandings.

We hypothesize that in physical education students’ knowledge growth is facilitated by kinesthetic movement experiences increasing students’ depth of understanding. Following the NIH grant, my doctoral student, Marina Bonello, completed her dissertation study examining students’ development of the concept of intensity and its relationship to other FITT principles.

As we develop this program of research, I am interested in working with new colleagues and graduate students who share these interests. Information about graduate study in our laboratory and about becoming part of our research team is available under the heading “Prospective Graduate Students” and on the UNCG Kinesiologys website.

Overview of Findings Associated with Conceptions of Knowledge

  • Teachers’ and students’ willingness and ability to use disciplinary knowledge to solve problems is related to their expertise and prior knowledge (Ennis & Safrit, 1990, 1991; Safrit, Ennis & Nagle, 1988).
  • Novice subjects rarely chose to seek additional scientific information beyond the common understandings already present in long-term memory. Instead they were more likely to draw from personal experiences, relying on knowledge they had previously found to be relevant, interesting, or helpful.
  • Findings indicated that their problem solving subroutines were not firmly connected to their decision-making processes
  • Although they could use more sophisticated subroutines when prompted, novice processing was characterized by weak connections that were easily forgotten when searching for prescriptive applications of scientific knowledge.
  • We concluded that frequent contact with the knowledge constructs and frequent application of the knowledge to relevant problems increased subjects’ ability to use disciplinary and scientific data for problem solving.
  • Curriculum and staff development materials prepared for novice learners and teachers can be designed to actively engage students and reinforce teachers’ and students’ efforts to seek and use the material.
  • Curricular connections to prior experiences that are frequent and attractive enhance teacher and student ownership of the teaching-learning process
  • Additional research investigating novices’ decision making processes examined elementary students’ use of cognitive processes to solve problems in physical education using a variation of the scientific method (Ennis & Lazarus, 1990).
  • Students were more successful when they followed the scientific process than when they became distracted or were anxious to conclude the task quickly (Ennis & Lazarus, 1990).
  • Additional qualitative/ ethnographic research (Ennis, 1991) documented similar performance-based sequences used by students in solving problems presented by teachers within the physical education class.
  • Students’ used many strategies typically included in taxonomies of critical thinking and meta-cognition (Ennis, 1991).
  • Problem solving tasks can be designed to encourage students to use a systematic process based on scientific inquiry to gather data about their own performance, process the data, make changes, and draw conclusions about their performance directly enhancing their success.
  • Teachers’ expertise and prior experience affected their ability to organize, retrieve/remember, and explain disciplinary content knowledge that serves as the foundation for effective science-enriched physical education curriculum. (Ennis, Mueller, & Zhu, 1991; Ennis, Mueller, & Hooper, 1990):
  • The depth and breadth of teachers’ knowledge expanded as their level of experience and expertise increased (Ennis, Mueller, & Zhu, 1991)
  • We produced additional evidence that both the complexity and detail of teachers’ lessons increased with training. Expert teachers were further able to add information beyond that which was provided in the staff development. (Ennis, Mueller, & Hooper, 1990).
  • Teachers’ performance can be improved by designing staff development tasks to increase their conceptual understanding of disciplinary (science & kinesiology) organization and integration, while providing frequent, direct, and practical applications of the knowledge to teaching.

Ennis et al. Publications Associated with Student Knowledge Conceptions

(+ designates data-based research; h designates research or philosophical synthesis; * designates invited article):

+Safrit, M.J., Ennis, C.D., & Nagle, F.J. (1988). The use of problem solving skills in computer aided instruction: An evaluation. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 4, 227-243.

+Ennis, C.D., & Chepyator_Thomson, J.R. (1990). Learning characteristics of field_dependent children within an analytical concept-based curriculum. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 10, 170-187.

+Ennis, C.D., & Hooper, L. M. (1990). An analysis of the Purpose Process Curriculum Framework as a theoretical framework for an instrument to examine teacher priorities for selecting curriculum content. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 61, 50-58.

+Ennis, C.D., & Lazarus, J.C. (1990). Cognitive style and gender differences in children's motor task performance. Early Child Development and Care, 64, 33-46.

+Ennis, C.D. (1991). Discrete thinking skills in two teachers' physical education classes. Elementary School Journal, 91, 473-487.

+Ennis, C.D. (1991). Instructional strategies to facilitate the learning of field-dependent children. Early Child Development and Care, 67, 95-109.

+Ennis, C.D., Chen, A., & Fernández-Balboa, J.M. (1991). Cognitive style differences within an analytical curriculum: Examples of success and nonsuccess. Early Child Development and Care, 74, 123-134.

+Ennis, C.D., Mueller, L.K., & Zhu, W. (1991). Description of knowledge structures within a concept-based curriculum framework. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 62, 309-318.

+Ennis, C.D., & Safrit, M.J. (1991). The use of hierarchical problem solving subroutines in the solution of exercise science problems. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 7, 241-254.

+Ennis, C.D., & Safrit, M.J. (1991). Utilizing a computer simulation to compare expert/ novice problem-solving subroutines. British Journal of Educational Technology, 22, 174-186.

NIH Funded Research Findings Overview - Science Based Physical Education (SBPE) Project

In 2003, The NIH National Center for Research Resources funded a 5 yr. study to design, implement, and evaluate an elementary Science Based Physical Education (SBPE) curriculum for urban school children. The grant, totaling ~$1.5 million, has supported curriculum writing, extensive professional development for physical education teachers, the development of innovative instructional technology, and extensive data collection and analysis to examine the effectiveness of this program to enhance student learning in science and physical education. It was our goal/hypothesis that students would increase their cognitive understandings through movement and that physical education could be both physically active and contribute to the academic mission of the schools.

Research Design

This research was conducted as a randomized clinical trial in which 3000 students in 3rd, 4th and 5th grade at 15 experimental schools participated in the new curriculum. Their performance on a variety of physically active tasks, knowledge tests, and interest questionnaires were compared with students in 15 comparison schools. Project team members gathered data from students at each school on variables such as science and physical education knowledge, interest in science and physical education, and perceptions of themselves as junior scientists. Forty-five teachers evaluated the ease of use of the curriculum and offered suggestions throughout the 5 year period to improve the quality and usefulness of the new curriculum and the 90 instructional lessons. The data were analyzed descriptively and using multivariate and other hierarchical linear modeling to examining the effectiveness of the curriculum in enhancing student learning.

SBPE Curriculum Materials and Staff Development

SBPE Curriculum Products include three, 30 lesson units for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students (90 lessons total in health related science with natural connections to physical education. The units in the Be Active Pals Curriculum were “Dr. Love’s Healthy Heart,” “Mickey’s Mighty Muscles,” and “Flex Coolbody’s Fitness Club,” use the scientific process within a series of problem-solving lessons to guide students to construct their understanding of concepts and skills. Lessons include student workbooks that assist them to focus and monitor the active-learning process.

Teacher Staff Development - Teachers received extensive curriculum and instructional materials and extensive professional development. Additionally, as teachers implemented the units, they were able to request assistance from the program’s master teachers to model lessons and offer in-class suggestions to enhance teaching effectiveness. An interactive website was available to keep parents informed of the content and topics their students were studying and to offer informative tips regarding family health within this format. Data collection was centralized from this website offering each school the opportunity to monitor project findings.

Involving Families in Science and Physical Education - A Family Science Activity Night accompanied the units to invite families back to school for an evening. Third – fifth grade students lead their families through a series of nine physically active science experiments similar to those the children experienced in their physical education classes. Students assumed responsibility for the evening events, acting as the junior scientist in-charge of the Family Science Activity Night activities. Over 500 families participated in these events conducted over 4 years at the 15 experimental schools.

SBPE Partners - The grant was funded through an NIH, NCRR Science Education Partnership Award and involved several key partnerships that supported and facilitated our work. Our school district partner was the Prince George’s County Public Schools, Maryland. This is a large urban district bordering Washington, DC enrolling 136,000 students. Students are culturally diverse and reflect both lower and middle class backgrounds. Our project focused specifically on Title 1 schools, assisting lower performing students to engage and learn health related science in physical education.

The partnership with Kinesiology Scientists and Science Teachers provided expertise to ensure that the science and physical education content was accurate and taught appropriately within the physical education lessons. Likewise, kinesiology scientists and their graduate students visited the experimental elementary schools meeting students and providing them an opportunity to meet real scientists, enhancing the authenticity of the curriculum. The scientists, in turn, helped students to conceptualize the scientific process, examining the effects of physical activity on their bodies.

Science education and classroom teachers partnered with physical education teachers to design integrated units to focus student attention and interest on the physical education topic. This integrated approach assisted students to understand that science is not just learned in the classroom --- but part of many enjoyable and interesting experiences in physical education and at home.

Recent Publications Associated with Conceptual Change and the SBPE Curriculum

(+ designates data-based research; ◊ designates research or philosophical synthesis; * designates invited article):

*◊Ennis, C.D. (2007). Charles H. McCloy Lecture: Curriculum research to increase student learning. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 78,138-150.

+Chen, A., Martin, R., Sun, H., & Ennis, C. D. (2007). Is physical activity at risk in constructivist physical education? Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport.78, 500-509.

+Ennis, C.D. (2008). Examining curricular coherence in an award-winning elementary school program. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 79, 71-84.

+Sun, H., Chen, A., Ennis, C.D., Martin, R. & Shen, B. (2008). An examination of the multidimensionality of situational interest in elementary school physical education. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 79, 62-70.

+Chen, A., Martin, R., Ennis, C. D., & Sun, H. (in press). Content specificity of expectancy beliefs and task values in elementary physical education. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport.