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Kinesiology and Community Health :: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The Department of Kinesiology and Community Health
College of Applied Health Sciences

Amy Woods

Associate Professor
Department of Kinesiology and Community Health

Amy Woods

For the last 25 years, Amy Woods has studied the career trajectories of physical education teachers to determine why some leave the field and why others remain in it. She began with a longitudinal study of six teachers, following them into their seventh years. By the end of her study, four had left the physical education field to pursue doctoral studies or to take corporate, administrative, or classroom teacher positions. Dr. Woods continues to follow the careers of the two who remained in physical education. One of the differences she has found is that physical education teachers who left the field were more likely to report feeling marginalized in the workplace. The two who remain in the field reported feeling respected by other teachers in the school.

Both of these teachers have successfully sought certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, a rigorous and time-consuming process that can take up to three years to complete. Dr. Woods has expanded her research to include 65 Board-certified physical education teachers. “I classify those teachers as enthusiastic and growing, so I really want to know what makes them tick,” she said. “Why did they want certification and how is it affecting them?” She has already found that Board certification has given physical education teachers more status in their schools and helped them to feel less marginalized.

Dr. Woods, who completed her doctoral degree in Instruction and Curriculum in Physical Education at the University of South Carolina, also is interested in children’s activity during recess. Ultimately, she would like to determine what can be done to increase the level of activity children exhibit on the playground. In a study of third- and fourth-grade students, she found that boys are more likely to play in larger groups and are more active than girls, who prefer to play games. She's not interested in turning the one unstructured period that children have during the school day into a boot camp. Rather, she hopes to help schools encourage children to incorporate more physical activity into their preferred recess activities.

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