The spring semester is shaping up to be a busy and exciting time for our Physical Education students at UL. Across the four years of the programme our students are engaged in wide array of activities alongside undertaking their course modules.
1st year students are engaging in modules on physiology, anatomy and the pedagogy of health-related activity; fundamental movement skills; and scientific perspectives on sport and exercise psychology. Alongside education modules, these experiential learning experiences provide students with a strong foundation for further learning across the four-year programme. 2nd year students are currently placed in approx. seventy schools across the country for their first school placement experience. They will be supported by school-based cooperating teachers and university-based mentors during the 8-week placement. Students are gaining valuable experience teaching physical education and their elective subject (Gaeilge, English, Maths or Geography), as well as contributing to a range of initiatives across the school. As well as undertaking modules in sociology, psychology and pedagogy, 3rd year students are developing research project proposals that they will continue to engage with over the next 18 months. A range of exciting topics will be researched, including: game-based approaches, adapted PE, health-related learning, leaving certificate physical education, and innovative teaching and learning in PE.
For our 4th year students in their final semester, it is a particularly busy time! Our modules offer service-learning opportunities with organisations such as Limerick Sports Partnership and UL Academy for Children. Students support and deliver a range of physical activity opportunities for children and adults in community settings and primary schools. This semester also sees the welcome return of the iPlay programme. This weekly programme is designed for children and youth with special needs and focusses on promoting meaningful physical activity. It also provides PE students with valuable experience of planning and delivering inclusive teaching experiences.
Several of our staff and students are involved in judging at this year PE Xpo taking place in Dublin on 6th April. The PE Xpo is an exhibition and competition in which secondary school students present and showcase projects and research on PE, sport and exercise science, and physical activity. It’s a fantastic opportunity for participants, spectators and judges to view the wide range of interesting research undertaken by secondary school students from across the country.
It’s terrific to see the full range of on- and off-campus experiences being offered again to our students this year. These memorable opportunities support students to develop a wide range of knowledge and skills that will enable them to teach meaningful physical education and contribute to the wider school and community.
Dr. Elaine Murtagh is the Course Director for the BSc Physical Education (LM090), Department of Physical Education & Sport Sciences, UL. For more information about the course see: https://www.ul.ie/courses/bachelor-science-physical-education