Gaining the Advantage: The Cadaver Lab

As individuals, our preferred way of learning can be as varied as the methods we use. But simply learning is not always enough. Success in a class, and more importantly in a professional career, is related to our ability to apply what we learn.

As faculty in the Department of Kinesiology, we strongly believe in experiential learning opportunities as a way to either make or strengthen the connections between coursework and professional application. That’s why we include internships, research, and laboratory expectations as part of our curriculum in the exercise science major.

One such experiential learning opportunity is the cadaver lab as part of our Human Anatomy course. Frequently institutions combine the study of human function (physiology) and structure (anatomy) into one large course. At Hope, we have chosen to split these courses into separate classes in an attempt to thoroughly explore each topic in more depth and breadth. The idea of the Human Anatomy Cadaver Lab was initiated to meet this goal and to that end an agreement was struck with the Michigan State Willed Body Program to provide whole body cadavers for educational study.

The Schaap Science Center is home to the Cadaver Lab.

Serving students in exercise science, nursing, and other pre-health programs, the cadaver lab is run by kinesiology professors Drs. Kirk Brumels and Kevin Cole. Along with selected students who help prepare and facilitate study with the cadavers, Brumels and Cole experience first hand the benefits of such a program and love to hear from students about their experience.

Sutton Williams, a 2014 graduate with a major in exercise science and current doctoral candidate in Human Anatomy at the University of Mississippi, believes that his career choice was directly influenced by the opportunity to study cadavers at Hope. Sutton writes:

“The cadaver laboratory at Hope was certainly a major highlight of my undergraduate education; being able to work so closely with faculty members during my time in the lab was an incredible experience. It not only fostered my fascination for the human body, it also provided me with an unparalleled educational experience for the learning of human anatomy. Without the cadaver lab I definitely would not be in the position I am today.

The cadaver lab is one of the most incredible and important educational experiences a pre-health related professional student can have. After working with health related professional students over the past four years during my doctoral work at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, I can say with certainty that exposure to a cadaver laboratory before entering medical school (or any other health related professional school) offers students a great advantage going forward in their professional studies.”

Sutton’s experience is not unique. Many graduates write back to share the benefit of the opportunities afforded them at Hope and especially in the cadaver lab. Working with and studying from cadavers definitely sets the standards high for our students and allows them to succeed in their chosen career or graduate programs. Rachael Rebhan ‘14 graduated with a major in exercise science and is currently a student in the Doctorate of Physical Therapy program at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Rachel shares the following related to the privilege and advantage of her experiential learning experience with cadavers while at Hope:

“While working to earn my DPT at Mayo Clinic, I found myself – more often than not – thinking back and being so thankful for the academic privileges Hope College had offered to me in the preceding years. Hope College set me up for success in a way I did not know or appreciate at the time. I didn’t realize just how many opportunities I came across due to the generous and giving community/alumni, and how those would come to fruition until I was faced with the hardest academic rigor in my professional career while working for my doctorate. In particular, the Cadaver Lab allowed for a skill level that most undergraduate colleges only dream to be able to provide – it put me ahead by almost an entire semester and gave me a knowledge base that my graduate professors and fellow classmates recognized. I thank Hope College for that.”

Like Rachel and Sutton, we too thank Hope College for supporting this program as we explore the “fearfully and wonderfully made” human body through lecture and lab experiences. We hope that you come join us. See you in the lab!


Did you take Human Anatomy?  Tell us about your experience, we’d love to hear how it has impacted your studies and/or career path!




Alumni Feature – Hannah Raycraft

by Hannah Johnsen ’16 Raycraft

It is funny now as I look back on my 18 year-old self about to start college. I was under the impression, as most soon-to-be college students are, that I had to know what I was going to study for the next four years as soon as I stepped foot on campus. Then after graduation, I was supposed get a job in that field and work at it for the rest of my life. I mean, who can blame me, or most college freshmen, for thinking this way? Every adult I encountered, after all, was asking, “So, what are you going to study?” This really means, “So, have you figured out what you are going to do for the rest of your life?” At least, it felt that way to me. I was supposed to be able to make this important decision before I even took a college class, right?

Well, no, of course not. My 23-year-old self knows that my 18-year-old self didn’t have to feel this way. But even though I fell victim to the overwhelming pressure of having to figure my professional life out back then, there were a few things I knew to be true about myself. I have always been creative, stubborn and independent. I am passionate about health and wellness, and I am curious about anatomy and nutrition. But, if I am being completely honest, a lot of these passions stemmed from insecurities I had. Like many young girls, I struggled with body image and lacked self-esteem. So when I had to pick a major, I chose exercise science because I figured that would help me understand how I could control my body better, and then when I graduated, I could help other people too.

That was the plan. I wasn’t sure how to make it happen, but I was going to stick with that plan, God willing.

So, I majored in exercise science, as I said, and enjoyed my classes very much, but I struggled with what I wanted to do when I graduated. I was in a constant battle between trusting God and His plan for me and my own fears and insecurities about my life. In the deepest part of my heart, I always knew that I was going to do something great, and that God was going to open doors at the right time. But how would I know when and where to find them?

The summer before my senior year, I went on Hope’s Vienna May and June terms. Before I returned to the U.S, I decided to extend my trip and went to visit my father’s cousin who lives in Germany. It was here that I discovered the tiger nut. This common food item to my distant family was completely foreign to me, but I fell in love with it so I brought some home for my family to try. Everyone loved it. The tiger nut breakfast porridge I had in Germany turned into a channel for my passion and dreams. You see, the tiger nut isn’t actually a nut; it is a small root vegetable that is high in iron, magnesium, and potassium. A powerhouse food, to say the least. But I had a problem when I got back home to Michigan. The tiger nut is not readily available in America.

Fast forward two years and I am now a small business owner at age 23, an unexpected and unordinary outcome of my exercise science degree which obviously did not include classes on how to run a business. But this is the beauty of a degree from liberal arts college. I discovered one goal of a Hope College education is to expose me to more than just my major; Hope allows me, encourages me even, to acquire knowledge and skills in other disciplines too.

It was during the second half of my Hope College career, I started taking a few leadership classes. Ultimately these additional courses helped lead me to where I am today: as the proud owner of Spera Foods. (Spera, as you may know, means hope!) I gained my passion for the human body and my understanding of the importance of nutrition for human function during my exercise science studies. However, it was my time in Hope’s Leadership program and HEI (Hope Entrepreneurial Institute) where I gained knowledge and confidence to create a small business.

Without one or the other academic experience, my journey may have looked significantly different, but thanks to the depth and breadth of coursework at Hope, I am here today looking at my past with a smile and a sigh of relief that I couldn’t have taken when I first started school. I am so glad I had the opportunity to study abroad and discover the tiger nut. It was a missing piece to the puzzle I started to solve my junior year.  My schedule had more flexibility then and I started taking classes outside of the kinesiology department. My senior self strategized and found a class that fit in my schedule, that I heard was fun and interesting. That class was Leadership 231: Leading the Startup Process.

Senior year came with the perfect combination of peace and fear. I had no idea what I was going to do when I graduated, but I also knew God had a plan. During my time in my leadership class, I started to use my creativity to solve a problem: how to find access to tiger nut products and turn that access into a business. All the pieces started to fall into place when I created Spera Foods. What started a college major, and then as a class project due to a liberal arts education, has now turned into my career.  And it is the perfect channel for my passion.


Interested in learning more about Spera Foods?  Visit their website or follow on Instagram or Facebook.


Taking SHAPE

One of our favorite prolate spheroids.

As physical educators and coaches, we love SHAPES. From the rectangles, squares, and circles of our courts and fields to the spheres, cylinders, and prolate spheroids used in the sports and activities that we teach, SHAPES are important to us. However, in the Hope College Kinesiology Department we recently celebrated a different type of SHAPE. In the past, you have been able to read regularly about the success of Hope athletes using the aforementioned “shapes,” but we would like to tell you how a group of students excelled in another SHAPE.

On October 27, Hope College’s Physical Education faculty members traveled with eleven students to the SHAPE conference in Lansing, Michigan.  SHAPE stands for Society of Health and Physical Educators and every year this professional association holds a conference where students and professionals come together to attend sessions on trends in physical education and health. This annual meeting allows professionals to learn, discuss and examine current best practices as it relates to curricular design and teaching methodology. After the day long conference was completed, an awards dinner took place and that is where our story starts to take on a new form as several Hope College students took home prestigious SHAPE awards and scholarships. At this ceremony, each individual institution is allowed to select and honor its Major of the Year.

Michael Barnett and Mandy Traversa

The Hope College SHAPE Major of the Year award winners were Amanda (Mandy) Traversa and Michael Barnett.  Hope College faculty in the Physical Education and Health program evaluate candidates for their academic standing, passion for the profession, and potential in teaching.

Mandy (‘16) is currently teaching full-time in Brandon, Michigan.  Her current teaching assignment is in the freshman physical education and health program at Brandon High School.  As a student at Hope, Mandy worked hard to develop skills for teaching others what she is passionate about. Her growth over the course of her time at Hope was remarkable and the faculty is so proud of the teacher she has become.

Michael Barnett (anticipated graduation in May, 2018) will student teach during the Spring of 2018 at West Ottawa Public Schools.  Michael excels in the classroom. It makes no difference if he is the student or teacher.  He is a very motivated and energetic teacher who thrives in the physical education setting. His care for students is deep, his energy is infectious and students are drawn to him as a role model and mentor.  This past summer Michael was able to show his love for education and kids as he worked at Kids Rock Summer Camp in Zeeland. He planned activities for and impacted the lives of a new group of campers each week.  Michael has a gift for teaching and Hope’s faculty is happy to acknowledge his great work with this award.

Left to Right: Michael Barnett, Michael Stephen, and Katrina Ellis

In addition to the awards selected and presented by Hope faculty, we also had three students win $1000 SHAPE scholarships.  With only six scholarships awarded state-wide, this is a testament to the quality of teachers educated at Hope College. The scholarship winners were Michael Barnett, mentioned above, Michael Stephen, and Katrina Ellis.  Michael Stephen, a fifth year senior, is currently student teaching at Holland Christian and will graduate in December.  In addition to his student teaching responsibilities, Michael is also on the Hope College Football coaching staff, as an assistant offensive line coach.  Based on past experience, we are confident that his positive impact on the lives of students will continue throughout his career as a teacher and coach. Katrina Ellis is currently student teaching in Hamilton where she works with middle school students. This is a perfect fit for Katrina as she is one of those unique and special teachers who are able to match the energy and enthusiasm of students in this age group. Like the other award winners, we are proud of Katrina who demonstrated hard work and commitment to her profession by excelling in the classroom while also balancing time as a student-athlete.

Thanks for letting us share how shapes and SHAPE are important to us and our students. This year’s conference was a visible example of the quality of students and student-athletes that we get to interact with on a daily basis.  We are so proud and grateful to play a role in the professional development of these amazing students. They represent themselves, their chosen profession, and Hope College in an extremely positive manner. We are proud of these young professionals and know that they are just starting to make a difference in the lives of students. Years in the future if students of these educators are asked to use a shape to describe their feelings toward them, it is our belief that they will think of a heart. They are truly special. Well done Ms. Traversa, Mr. Barnett, Ms. Ellis, and Mr. Stephen…..well done.

Health Dynamics: Going Strong!


Health Dynamics students get to enjoy a variety of activities during their activity sessions.

This fall, Hope College enters the 39th year of its KIN 140 – Health Dynamics program. This required course, often taken during a student’s freshman year, focuses on various wellness principles, such as exercise, proper diet, and stress management. The two credit course is a staple of Hope’s general education curriculum and involves one hour of lecture and two hours of exercise per week. The type of exercise varies between aerobic (running, walking, swimming), resistance (weight training), flexibility (stretching), and game/recreation-type activities.


Dr. Richard Peterson, the first Health Dynamics program director, stated that the goal of the course was not simply to educate students, but to instill in them an “intrinsic” motivation towards exercise. Nearly forty years later this remains the primary goal of Health Dynamics.

Health Dynamics began in the 1970s in an effort to cultivate a positive attitude towards health and fitness among Hope students. Dr. Richard Peterson, the first Health Dynamics program director, stated that the goal of the course was not simply to educate students, but to instill in them an “intrinsic” motivation towards exercise. Nearly forty years later this remains the primary goal of Health Dynamics.

Health research continues to illustrate the important role exercise plays in the prevention of many chronic diseases. Despite this growing body of research the physical activity (PA) levels of Americans have declined sharply in recent years. Currently, only 20% of Americans are meeting the national PA recommendations. This decline in PA coincides with more and more colleges dropping their physical education requirements. In fact, according to a 2013 study from Oregon State, only 40% of colleges still require a physical education course as part of their degree programs. At Hope, it’s understood that promoting and instilling strong PA habits during these transformative years is critical.

Students celebrating during a volleyball game in class.

“As educators at a liberal arts college, we recognize the unique ability we have to influence our students’ lives. As such, we believe that Health Dynamics has the capability to increase not just our students’ knowledge, but also their enjoyment of exercise. This is critically important, as both knowledge and enjoyment of exercise are strong predictors of future PA behaviors and adherence.” says Dr. Brian Rider, current director of the health dynamics program at Hope.

In addition, Hope is a Christian college and strongly values its role of educating students within the context of the historic Christian faith. Physical and spiritual wellness, though maybe not demonstrably so, are closely related to one another. Dr. Peterson acknowledged this relationship when he launched the Health Dynamics program thirty-nine years ago:

“I feel one of a Christian’s responsibilities is to be a good steward of what’s been given. The body, the temple of the Holy Spirit, is as much a gift as the life that goes on in it. We’re responsible for the stewardship of that gift.”

According to Dr. Rider, the Health Dynamics program is utilizing new technology and undergoing some exciting changes.

  1. “We are in the process of creating a stronger online presence. Specifically, we are examining ways that we can transfer our current textbook online and create an interactive space where students are able to better engage with the material. Having our course content accessible online means that we can update materials on a regular basis to keep up with emerging research on nutrition and exercise.”
  2. Another exciting change is the use of technology to develop a better understanding of the students’ activity habits outside of class. For example, this fall, students from two Health Dynamics classes are wearing pedometers throughout the semester. Pedometers are devices traditionally used for measuring distance traveled via the number of steps an individual takes in a day. “Steps” are a metric used to assess how physically active an individual is and also to prescribe exercise. For example, aiming to hit “10,000 steps/day” is a popular recommendation and equates to traveling roughly 5 miles in a day (2000-2500 steps are in a mile). According to Dr. Rider, the pedometer data will be used in two ways: “One, students will review the activity data to better understand their own PA habits. Then, as a class, they’ll brainstorm possible strategies for increasing their daily PA (e.g. walking to class instead of driving, reducing the time spent indoors watching Netflix, etc.) Second, instructors will have an improved understanding of how our students’ PA changes over time. Ideally, we would like to see students’ PA increase during the semester. However, if this isn’t the case, then we as educators can strategize ways to improve our students’ overall enjoyment of PA in an effort to improve their daily PA.”
  3. Lastly, says Dr. Rider, “an exciting change we’re enacting this spring, is focusing some of our classes’ activity sessions around a sport and/or activity. Specifically, two Health Dynamics classes will have “theme” activity sessions. One will focus primarily on training for a 5k-road race and another will focus on training for an “adventure-style” race. While each class will continue to cover all core concepts of fitness (strength, cardio, flexibility) the activity sessions will be tailored towards these specific races. This will give students who might be more interested in training for a race or who prefer to run, the opportunity to choose a class that will focus more on their area of PA interest.”

Hope’s steadfast commitment to its students’ well-being is as strong today as it was when the college was founded.

This window located on the south west corner of Dimnent Chapel indicates the college’s long standing commitment to the development of the Body, Mind, Spirit. It was a gift from the Class of 1907.

Hope’s steadfast commitment to its students’ well-being is as strong today as it was when the college was founded.  It is our desire that every student sees the value in what they’ve learned both inside and outside of the Health Dynamics’ classroom and that this course helps them continue on (or in many cases begin) their own personal journey towards health, wellness, and positive life-long fitness habits. Health Dynamics has been, and will remain, a key component of Hope’s mission of challenging the mind, body and spirit.The kinesiology department and all of the Health Dynamic instructors understand the importance of such a class to Hope College and support / encourage good stewardship of our physical bodies.



Wanted: Health Care Experiencers

By Kirk Brumels and Maureen Dunn


It has been said that experience is the world’s greatest teacher and while that may be true, in order to gain knowledge from life’s lessons we need to be willing participants and eager students. That’s why we are writing. Applications for Kinesiology 212/214, the Health Advocacy and Community Care Coordination Course Sequence are being accepted until October 13, 2017. We are looking for 12 students who want to immerse themselves in health care at its most primary source and engage in discussions and experiences that will require an active engagement with the delivery of health care and associated experiences. These courses reflect a recent partnership created with Holland Hospital. Students taking these courses will be given the opportunity to study significant issues concerning health care aimed at developing practical approaches to supporting patients in the community.

The Health Advocacy and Community Care course sequence consists of 2 courses and applicants must be willing and able to complete both. Each course is 1 credit hour and must be taken in spring and fall semesters of the same calendar year. The 2018 spring semester course will use a seminar format, with students meeting on Monday evenings from 5-6:30 pm. Students will identify barriers to effective health care as well as strategies for enabling at-risk patients to play a more active role in promoting their own health and well-being. Interactive and thought-provoking group discussions based on class presentations and readings will help prepare students to act as health advocates in the community. Students will learn about population medicine; specific chronic diseases in the community setting; ethical dilemmas about the uninsured and underinsured; methods of improving compliance, and measuring outcomes to name a few topics.

Participation in the fall practicum requires a grade of B or higher in the spring seminar course. Students will visit patient’s homes 1-2 times weekly where they will provide hands-on application of knowledge to patient situations in the community setting, allowing students to work with a health care team of providers at a more in-depth level. In addition, students will meet once every 2 weeks from 7:15-8:15 am on Wednesdays to discuss experiences with the health care management team.

If you are interested, please use this link to access the application and additional information about the course.  Also, click here to view one student’s comments about what this experience taught him.


Meet the BodPod

By Kirk Brumels and Maureen Dunn, Professors of Kinesiology

No…the folks in the Kinesiology Department are not experimenting with time travel or paying homage to Jules Verne by attempting to reach 20,000 leagues, but what they are doing is still pretty cool.  Meet our newest addition…the BodPod!

This summer our Exercise Science faculty received training on how to use the BodPod.

The Kinesiology Department recently took ownership of a new air-displacement plethysmography machine, otherwise known as the BodPod. This futuristic looking piece of equipment estimates body composition (i.e. body fat percentage) by measuring body volume. The BodPod will be used extensively within the Exercise Science program curriculum, as well as in student-faculty collaborative research. Dr. Maureen Dunn, Professor of Kinesiology and Program Director for Exercise Science believes that having this type of technology at Hope and in the Exercise Science program gives our students “an advantage when it comes to understanding body composition testing and accuracy.”

…having this type of technology at Hope and in the Exercise Science program gives our students “an advantage when it comes to understanding body composition testing and accuracy.”

Common techniques in body composition assessment include skin fold and girth measurements, body density assessment, body mass index, bioelectrical impedance and determination of body volume. Options for volume measurements include hydrostatic/underwater weighing, which measures water displacement (Archimedes Principle), and as the BodPod’s technical name suggests, by using technology that measures air displacement. According to Dr. Brian Rider, assistant professor of kinesiology, “Hydrostatic (or underwater) weighing has been considered the gold standard for many years but it comes with some testing difficulties related to equipment and subject responsibilities. Having space for a large tank to allow for whole body submersion and dealing with individual subject’s fear of water or inability to completely exhale while submerged, make use of this measurement technique challenging.” The BodPod, however, has been proven to be an accurate way to determine body volume without some of the hassles associated with underwater weighing.

The BodPod, however, has been proven to be an accurate way to determine body volume without some of the hassles associated with underwater weighing.

While plethysmography, the third word of the BodPod’s scientific name, is something you might hear at the next Scripps National Spelling Bee, the first two help us understand how the device measures body volume. Air displacement and subsequently body volume is determined by having the subject sit comfortably inside the BodPod which consists of two chambers (test and reference) that share a common wall. The test chamber (where the subject sits), and the reference chamber of the BodPod, both contain a known volume of air when empty. During testing, the subject is asked to breath normally so that the lung volume can be accounted for and thus an accurate body volume determined. By sitting still and breathing in the test chamber, the subject displaces air that is measured via a diaphragm mounted in the common wall. This diaphragm oscillates during testing, leading to subtle changes in air volume within each chamber allowing strategically placed pressure sensors to precisely determine the actual volume of the person sitting in the test chamber. Using this information, body density is calculated and body composition can be determined.

So, next time you happen by the Exercise Science Laboratory and see students and faculty in and around the BodPod, don’t be alarmed… they’re not going to a galaxy far, far away. They are just taking advantage of the latest technology as part of their education and research. Just routine stuff here at Hope.


The Dow is Up!

By Kirk Brumels, Kinesiology Department Chair

If the title of this blog post made you excited about your stock portfolio, I apologize for misleading you. However, the truth is that things at the Dow Center are looking up, especially as it relates to student/faculty exercise and recreation opportunities.  If you haven’t stepped foot into the Dow since your Health Dynamics class, it’s time to plan a visit or better yet, reserve some space to work out with your friends.

We have several new machines: Leg extension/leg curl machine (pictured), a cable crossover machine (arriving any day!), 3 treadmills, 2 ellipticals and 2 stationary bikes.

After a summer and early fall filled with shopping, placing orders, and re-arranging, the Dow Center has some new equipment and space that will increase opportunities for participation in exercise or activities within the building. The 175,000 square-foot Dow Center was constructed in 1978 and contains courts for basketball, volleyball, racquetball, and wallyball as well as a 1/10th mile indoor track, a swimming pool, and cardio /weight rooms. In addition to its physical activity use by the campus community, the Dow also houses our Dance Department and their studios, academic classrooms, the Foundations for Fitness program, Hope College’s Student Health Center, and an athletic training room.


Hours of operation are as follows:

Monday-Thursday – 6:30a-Midnight (pool closes at 10p, opens at 8:30a on Wednesday)

Friday – 6:30a-11p (pool closes at 9p)

Saturday – 8:30a-11p (pool 11a-9p)

Sunday – 1-11p (pool closes at 9p)

Here’s the best part…rooms, courts and space for recreational activities can be reserved by anyone or any group on campus.

Here’s the best part…rooms, courts and space for recreational activities can be reserved by anyone or any group on campus. If you are planning more than 24 hours in advance, please reserve via For reservations within 24 hours, please call 616-395-7702 to check on availability.

“I’m confident students will see our commitment to their wellness.”   

Pictured is the 1000 square foot expansion to the weight room featuring free weights, plyometric jump boxes and much more.

Brian Morehouse, Director of the Dow Center and Head Women’s Basketball coach says, “After reading the student survey and speaking with the campus committee that was analyzing space usage, our goal was to improve our exercise areas in the Dow.  By expanding the weight room by 1000 square feet, adding new weight equipment, and increasing our cardio offerings by almost 20%, I’m confident students will see our commitment to their wellness.”   

Morehouse also wants to remind students that the Dow has added a group exercise area for student reservations. This 20’ X 40’ area is ideal for yoga, pilates, or any other group fitness activities.  Exercise mats are available for student usage in this area. Students simply need to call 395-7702 for a reservation on the day they plan to use it.

Along with the increased opportunities for recreation at the Dow Center, a new access system is up and running as well. This new system allows faculty, staff, students and community members to scan an ID card in order to gain entrance to the facility.  This is a key component in maintaining a safe and secure facility for our users.  

If you have any questions please feel free to contact Brian Morehouse at  Otherwise, round up your friends, head over to the Dow, see the exciting changes and get your sweat on!


Teaching a New Dog Old Tricks

by Dr. Kirk Brumels, professor and chair, Hope College Kinesiology Department

Providing unabashed love in exchange for food and shelter, my dog Dixie’s devotion and friendship is a commonplace canine occurrence. Yet, as an English Setter from hunting bloodlines, she is genetically wired for more. So when Dixie became part of our family two years ago, it became my responsibility to help her satisfy her natural desire to pursue grouse and woodcock within Michigan’s upland forests.

Learning how to train Dixie caused me focus a bit more on sequential development and guiding correction involved in teaching a new skill or concept. The beauty in this lesson is that it impacted my role as an educator.

Never having owned or trained an upland bird-hunting dog before, I discovered quickly that Dixie and I were newbies who needed to acquire some old tricks. Learning how to train Dixie caused me to focus a bit more on sequential development and guiding correction involved in teaching a new skill or concept. The beauty in this lesson is that it impacted my role as an educator.

Now, let me be the first to say that I don’t treat my students like I treat my dog as a belly rub, a scratch behind the ear, or cut-up hot dog pieces as performance rewards may be considered inappropriate! But I believe the principles of training a dog can be applied to my teaching…let me explain.

The basic idea behind hunting with a pointing dog like Dixie, is that her natural scenting ability is used to locate and “point” out desired game birds. Once found, she should hold still (point) in close proximity to the bird until I can arrive on scene. Opportunities are lost if Dixie gets too close or chases the birds. Dogs like Dixie must be trained how to respond when birds are found. She needed to be educated on how to apply specialized, skilled behavior with her natural instincts. Dixie instinctively knows that smelling and locating birds is fun; however, she needed to be shown that keeping such birds on the ground and in front of her provided a greater reward.

Teaching and educating often involves an explanation, a demonstration, or both. I remember being asked in a college education course to teach someone to tie shoelaces by either words or actions alone. It was difficult. Obviously, a better teaching strategy was to simultaneously explain and show the sequential tasks that would lead to the end result. I learned then and, now more recently through training Dixie, that becoming skilled at either explaining or demonstrating the sequential steps improves my teaching when I actually combine the two.

A better teaching strategy was to simultaneously explain and show the sequential tasks that would lead to the end result.

This concept of intentional and sequential instruction was amplified while training Dixie.  Verbal explanations were not an option during our training (dogs understand limited English!) so I was required to show, reinforce, and reward a series of behaviors built upon those that preceded it. Dr. Steven Smith, professor of kinesiology and head men’s soccer coach, explains this “chaining instruction” to his pedagogy students and players on a daily basis. The model, according to Smith, is to “teach the individual parts and then chain them together like links of a chain.” This form of instruction links one activity or task to another until an end goal is reached, and it was a critical component of Dixie’s training program.

Likewise, with students whom we can extensively speak to, it is important for our verbal explanations to be progressive in nature. Smith likens this spoken instruction to motor skill development where “there are mature and immature behaviors or understanding and it is our job as educators to seek ways of moving our students step by step through the maturational and instructional process.”

Whether tying shoes, hunting upland game, or teaching skills and concepts, ultimate success relies on breaking down the end goal into sequential steps. We must start at the beginning and progress toward a goal. But, it does not end there. We cannot simply “get the ball rolling” and hope it ends up where we want it. We must also provide continued correction and reinforcement along the way.

That brings me to my second point.

In addition to “chaining instruction,” the value of positive reinforcement became exceedingly clear during Dixie’s training process. The extrinsic rewards of effusive praise or food treats are a critical component of training a dog in the early stages, but eventually they are replaced by obedience to expectation. The satisfaction of a job well done eventually becomes the intrinsic reward.

Laszlo Block of Google in his book titled Work Rules! states that “simple practice, without feedback and experimentation, is insufficient” when it comes to skill acquisition. Referring to the work of K. Anders Ericsson, a Florida State University professor of psychology, Laszlo mentions that in order to gain mastery, an individual must break down the desired goal into “tiny actions” and then “repeat them relentlessly” with “immediate feedback, correction, and experimentation.”

As we worked on performing desired skills, certain undesired responses inevitably happened. These moments of correction were necessary and expected, but they were not where emphasis was placed.

Correcting aberrant behavior and reinforcing appropriate actions were both critical for teaching Dixie the desired skills and behaviors that make a successful bird-dog. It all seemed more effective, though, when I positively reinforced a desired behavior than when I attempted to correct a negative one. As we worked on performing desired skills, certain undesired responses inevitably happened. These moments of correction were necessary and expected, but they were not where emphasis was placed. The focus was our desired end goal and the corrections served only as a way to redirect momentum toward positive responses that could be rewarded. By not over-reacting to deviant behavior, but instead by re-directing expectations and rewards toward positive behavior, I reduced the requirement for and time spent on correction and “constructive criticism.”

What this old dog learned is not necessarily new, but thanks to Dixie, I have a new appreciation for these old tricks. I can only hope that through applying these lessons to my responsibilities as an educator, I equal Dixie’s ability to find birds.

Why the Madness?!

By Chad Carlson

Amid the teaching, coaching, parenting, committee work, and other responsibilities, writing a book takes a lot of time. Recently I completed Making March Madness, which is set to land in bookstores by the month’s end.  This book has taken me four years. And I can’t imagine spending that much time on a topic that wasn’t of great personal interest to me. In fact, if I wasn’t totally enamored by the spectacle of March Madness, I would not have written the book. I love everything about March Madness–the seedings, the upsets, the buzzer beaters, and the bracket pools.

Yet no one had researched the tournament’s origins before. So in some sense I got lucky that one of my great interests in life was an area in sport history that had not been studied. I was able to collect some materials from archives around the country that nobody had ever looked at. And to top it off, I found evidence that discredited what many sportswriters argued: that the National Association of Basketball Coaches sold their tournament to the NCAA for $2,500. If that had happened, so the sportswriters say, it would have been one of the best bargains in the history of sport (the tournament is worth billions now). The history of that transaction, though, is much more complex. So I guess I’m trying to “upset” the conventional wisdom. If you read Making March Madness, maybe you’ll agree with me. It’s a “bracket-busting” position!

2016-17 Kinesiology Awards and Honors

The 2017 Department of Kinesiology Award and Senior Celebration was held on Thursday, April 27th, 2017. This event honored the accomplishments of our outstanding students in Athletic Training, Exercise Science, Physical Education and Athletics and celebrated the next steps in their professional careers and chosen vocations. Each year the faculty and staff of the Kinesiology Department select deserving students who live into the department mission of “using the study and practice of human movement to transform the mind, body and spirit for lives of leadership, character and service.” We are so proud of each and every one of our graduating seniors and know that they will impact the world with accomplishments that have both significance and meaning.  Below is a listing of this year’s award winners:

The Miner Stegenga Award – Elizabeth Perkins:  This award is presented a student-athlete in the junior or senior class who has shown leadership in campus Christian activity. The student is one who demonstrated athletic ability in a college-sponsored sport and exemplified Miner Stegenga’s deep love of sports and his deeper love and Christian concern for those who played on both sides.

Alvin Vanderbush Student Athlete Award – Michael Stephen:  An award established by former Hope College athletes, to be given to a student-athlete who demonstrates the qualities and ideals exemplified by former Professor and Coach Alvin VanderBush’s life and career—integrity, diligence, commitment, and caring.

Otto VanderVelde All-Campus Award – Harrison Blackledge:  Presented to the senior man chosen by the Athletic Committee for his outstanding contribution to the College in athletics, scholarship, and participation in student activities. To be eligible, he must have earned at least three athletic letters.

John Schouten Award – Erin Herrmann  and Elizabeth Perkins:  This award is given in memory of John Schouten who was a long-time physical educator and Hope’s first athletic director.  Presented to a woman athlete in the senior class who, in the estimation of the athletic staff and the kinesiology department faculty, has been one of the top athletes in the women’s athletic program and has been an able and conscientious student during her years at Hope College. The recipient of this award must not only be an outstanding athlete, but must also possess other strong character traits. Ideally, she must demonstrate competent leadership in campus and Christian activities as well as leadership within the teams on which she has participated.

Dorothy and Russell Siedentop Award – Harrison Blackledge, Angelique Gaddy and Amanda Traversa:  An award given by Dr. Daryl Siedentop (’60) in memory of his parents to an outstanding graduating senior member of the men’s basketball team and an outstanding graduating senior member of the women’s basketball team. Preference will be given to students considering graduate school and careers in teaching and coaching. The recipients are chosen by the Athletic Committee.

Lawrence “Doc” Green Award in Athletic Training – Kyle Niswonger:  Presented to the most outstanding senior athletic training student who best exemplifies the qualities of scholarship and selflessness exemplified by the late Doc Green.

William and Mabel Vanderbilt Family Award – Abbie Zuiderveen:  An award established by Mrs. Mabel Vanderbilt Felton in memory of William Vanderbilt, Sr.  It is presented to seniors majoring in kinesiology who have demonstrated scholarship, integrity, and the promise of continued outstanding service to others.

Athletic Training Jr. Book Award – Madison Roskuszka:  Presented to a junior who exhibits the greatest promise for a career in sports medicine as a certified athletic trainer.

Susan Allie PE Award – Katrina Ellis:  This award is presented in memory of Susan Allie, Hope class of 1981.  Presented to the female major whose overall performance is judged most outstanding and best represents the high standards set by the late Susan Allie.  Winner decided by the Physical Education faculty.

Kathleen White Memorial Award – Bryanna Howard:  Presented to a promising junior or senior kinesiology major, preferably a young woman.

Exercise Science Major of the Year – Byoungjoon (Brandon) Jang:  Presented to the most outstanding exercise science major as determined so by the exercise science faculty.

Society of Health and Physical Education (SHAPE) Outstanding Major of the Year Award – Amanda Traversa and Michael Barnett:  Awarded at NASPE Conference in fall and recognized at department dinner.