Students in the Department of Exercise Science are taught “how” to do things in their major courses. However, throughout their time in the undergraduate program, students are encouraged to ask questions about problems that they encounter during their experiences in physical activity, exercise, and sports. In introductory courses, students connect their experiences and interests to course content. Students examine a variety of domains (exercise physiology, nutrition, motor behavior, biomechanics, sport psychology, etc.) in order to develop research hypotheses about topics that are of special interest to them. After completing most of their major coursework, students are ready to conduct their own research projects. Part of the capstone experience in the Exercise Science curriculum is the Research Design and Statistics course, where all students gather data and analyze and interpret results. Faculty within the Department mentor students through the process of creating and completing a scientific research project. Although the nature of the problem dictates the method of research, Exercise Science students often conduct experimental research (where they can manipulate treatments to cause things to happen). By conducting research projects, students also gain a better understanding of “why” something should be done in a certain manner (and why it should even be done) (Thomas, Nelson, & Silverman, 2011). Reference: Thomas, J.R., Nelson, J.K., & Silverman, S.J. (2011). Research Methods in Physical Activity (6th ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. (Chapter 1).
The Department of Exercise Science invests a tremendous amount of effort in support of undergraduate student research. Exercise Science students are encouraged to pursue funding from the Shippensburg University Undergraduate Research Advisory Committee to support their research efforts. Outcomes of these efforts are seen each year at the campus Celebration of Student Research Conference. Furthermore, Exercise Science students have been published in the Keystone Journal for Undergraduate Research and they have presented at regional and national conferences. Finally, students are encouraged to pursue professional development activities, such as attending the annual Mid-Atlantic Regional Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine Conference, and broaden their knowledge within the field of Exercise Science.