Basic Physical Education Instructional Program

(Prepared July 6, 1998 for the curriculum revision committee)

I. Introduction

Since early in Rice's history, completion of two semesters of basic physical education has been a baccalaureate degree requirement of all students. Students with physical disabilities have satisfied the physical education requirement through individual instruction or classes arranged to meet personal needs.

Over the years, the faculty and administration have continued to support the idea that physical education is an integral part of the education of Rice students. Student surveys affirm the value of the experiences to Rice undergraduates.

II. History

Physical education and recreational physical activity experiences have been an integral part of the liberal arts offering of Rice University (Institute) since its inception in 1912. Then, as now, the "Institute" was dedicated to the development of arts, letters and science. From the onset the focus was on both liberal and technical education. Although times have changed and student, faculty and staff personnel have changed, the philosophy and the purposes of the University remain stable. The University espouses its belief in providing each student with a liberal education in arts, science and letters, as well as providing a specialized education in preparation for successful vocational endeavor. It is in the endeavor of liberal education for all students that basic physical education has a role.

Since the inception of the University, there has been a strong belief that students needed to understand, appreciate and experience physical activity as one of their educational experiences. In the incipient years of the Institute this was reinforced through a requirement for male students to complete a minimum of one year of instructed physical education. In the 1950's the University requirement expanded and women students were also required to complete one year of physical education prior to graduation.

During the early years of Rice Institute, following the installation of a major program in physical education exclusively for athletes, athletes certified by the Athletic Department were not required to take the basic instructional course. They were required, however, to participate in numerous courses which offered the content of basic instructional courses as well as more inclusive content of health, wellness and sports and games.

Currently athletes fulfill the physical education requirement for they are viewed as students seeking the same liberal education as are all other students. Excellence in a sport is commendable, but it is not a guarantee that one has acquired the knowledge and concepts of wellness, fitness development and maintenance and the broad experience, knowledge and value of participation in lifetime sports which will serve the student throughout life.

It is the belief of the Department faculty that each and every student at Rice University should have knowledge and understanding regarding the structure and function of the human body. It is the intent of the basic instructional required program to provide the concepts of the functioning body and to provide instruction and a laboratory in which one experiences the use of the body in sports, games, dance and aquatics. Students are given opportunities of selection so that they may develop lifetime commitment to physical fitness and recreational skills that will serve them long after completion of their undergraduate experience. Further, through direction provided in the course experience, they are encouraged to use the available facilities and leadership in open recreational activities, intramural activities and club sports.

The goals of the Basic Physical Education Instructional Program are presented below.

III. Program Goals

The goals of Basic Physical Education Instruction are:

IV. Basic Instruction Program Components

The categories (and percentage within the overall offering) of the courses offered include: Physical fitness/wellness (31%), individual sports and activities (31%), dance (21%) combatives (10%), team sports (7%). There are a variety of physical activity courses within each category. For several years there has been an average of 31 separate courses involving about 800 students each semester.

Students are encouraged to take physical education courses in which they have little experience; they are not allowed to repeat the same activities in a subsequent semester. Because many of the courses include two separate activities each semester, most students receive instruction and participate in at least three separate physical activities while completing the physical education requirement.

V. Quality of Instruction

Historically, the student evaluations reflect high satisfaction with the effectiveness of the basic physical education courses and the faculty. Both the full-time and part-time faculty teaching Basic Physical Education have vast experience and are recognized experts in their physical activity specialty.

VI. Conclusion

Unquestionably sport is an integral part of every culture in the modern world. Experiencing and understanding some of the many physical activities which are universal among all cultures and encompass virtually all disciplines of human movement in sports, games, aquatics, aesthetics, martial arts and physical conditioning, makes a substantial contribution to the liberal education of Rice students. Because many of our students have little physical activity experience and their athleticism awaits discovery, participating in a variety of physical activities and understanding basic wellness principles reveals another dimension of their university education. Possessing knowledge and skill in physical activities and being fully acquainted with the Department's facilities and equipment provide students with an opportunity to spend wholesome time away from the strain created by rigorous academic demands which few can escape at Rice. This is a very positive outcome of Basic Physical Education that can contribute abundantly to the quality of student life.