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Online graduate degree in physical education pedagogy in its first year

Amy Marzano

Amy Marzano

The physical education pedagogy (PEP) program was created to address the changing needs of full time K-12 physical educators. With their demanding teaching and coaching schedules, taking the time to attend graduate school is nearly impossible. Illinois State’s PEP online master’s degree program provides students from around the state and across the country the opportunity to earn a respected and rigorous degree.

Preparing graduate classes for online delivery was no simple task. Each PEP graduate faculty member completed a semesterlong class based on standards set by Quality Matters (QM), a faculty-centered, peer-review process designed to certify the quality of online and blended courses. Through the QM training, Professors Mary Henninger and Skip Williams were able to devise creative ways to address the challenges of teaching online.

Current PEP graduate student Amy Marzano ’12, who earned her bachelor’s degree in physical education, cited several keys to success for online learning. “The first is to read and reread the syllabus throughout the semester. There is a lot of freedom to online learning, but you need to stay on top of due dates. The second key is asking questions. The professors at Illinois State are always willing to answer questions in a timely manner. Finally, I made connections with fellow classmates. We were provided with the social tools and applications to build our learning community.”

Marzano said several benefits to online learning including the freedom to learn anywhere and anytime. Being able to communicate effectively through technology and the ability to balance education, work, and family life are other great advantages to online learning.

Prospective PEP students are recruited at the annual Illinois Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance conference; through advertisements in targeted state and national physical education-related journals; and by word of mouth! As the first cohort of PEP students nears the completion of their degrees, many are preparing theses. Professors Henninger and Williams have strong praise for their students and look forward to the continued growth and expansion of the program to benefit future graduate students.

The online PEP program at Illinois State is a high-quality, rigorous sequence of course work leading to a master’s degree that is relevant for all practicing physical educators, and contributes to the ongoing development of physical education teachers.