SPARKscholar advances research at the State University of New York at Cortland

Friday, November 1, 2013

Research shows that one in three children are obese, however, many schools do not provide the high-quality physical education needed to keep students active and healthy. To continue research focused on childhood obesity prevention and physical activity, the State University of New York (SUNY) at Cortland implemented the SPARKscholar Graduate Assistantship program. The first-ever SPARKscholar, graduate student Will Glennon, will work in the SUNY Cortland Activity and Movement Pedagogy (AMP) Lab to evaluate best practices in the areas of physical education, physical activity, and movement-based learning. This scope of work will help improve both current and developing programming offered by, SPARK™, provider of the world’s most-researched physical education program.

“The SPARKscholar Program is a great opportunity for a person who is passionate about physical education,” said Glennon. “At the end of this experience I know that I will walk away with a better understanding of research methods and curriculum design. I am excited to have an opportunity to contribute to a research-based program like SPARK.”

Glennon is in the Physical Education Leadership graduate program. With nine years of teaching experience, Glennon was named the 2006 MCSAO Coach of the Year, has served as Athletic Director and as an executive board member of the Massachusetts Charter School Athletic Organization.

The SUNY Cortland AMP Lab is overseen by Dr. John Foley, Ph. D, and Aaron Hart, MS Ed. Both teach in SUNY Cortland’s Physical Education Department and collaborate on research and community outreach projects. In Spring 2013, Foley and Hart were recognized by SUNY Cortland with an award for Excellence in Research, Scholarship, and Outreach.

“The SPARKscholar Assistantship provides an excellent opportunity to translate evidenced-based practices in physical education, and explore how those practices can be implemented in the field,” said Foley. “Will brings practical knowledge into the AMP Lab from his years of teaching. His perspective has already proven to be beneficial in the evaluation of instructional materials and resources.”

“SUNY Cortland has a long and proud history of contributions to the field of physical education,” said Hart. “A partnership with SPARK only builds on this great tradition. Year one of the SPARKscholar Program is off to a great start.”

SPARK activities are designed to be more inclusive, active and fun than traditional PE classes. SPARK lessons incorporate student-directed learning, differentiated instruction and movement education to motivate students to participate and develop a lifelong love of activity. SPARK has been proven to work with PE specialists, as well as classroom teachers and after school providers, thus providing more opportunities for students to be physically active during the day.

For more information about SPARK, visit http://www.sparkpe.org.

About SUNY Cortland

SUNY Cortland is an academic community dedicated to diverse learning experiences. Students grow as engaged citizens with a strong social conscience fostered by outstanding teaching, scholarship, and service. For more information visit http://www.cortland.edu

About SPARK

SPARK is a collection of research-based Physical Education, After School, Early Childhood, and Coordinated School Health programs for educators serving Pre-K through 12th grade students. Since 1989, SPARK has provided curriculum materials, teacher training, and consultation to over 100,000 teachers and youth leaders, representing many thousands of schools, organizations, and agencies worldwide. SPARK also helps educators find physical education grants. For more information on SPARK, visit http://www.cortland.edu or email spark(at)sparkpe(dot)org or call 1-800-SPARK-PE.