Kinesiology traces its origins to 1896 when the Tempe Normal College, the predecessor of ASU, added Physical Education to its academic programs. During the next 107 years, the program evolved under many names and reincarnations before becoming a department under its own name in 2003.
The program grew like the proverbial mustard seed from an original cohort of 48 graduates to enrollment this fall of more than 1,500 students. Kinesiologys latest milestone came May 15, 2010 when it was integrated into the College of Nursing & Health Innovation.
Kinesiology is finally where it should be, according to Jennifer Fay and Tannah Broman, interim co-directors.
"We are a health program, so being part of the College of Nursing & Health Innovation makes perfect sense," Broman said. "We have more potential for collaboration with the other disciplines in the college and it opens up a wealth of opportunities for our students. We also feel we have joined a college of like-minded people who value evidence-based education and practice."
What kinesiology is and isnt
Many people are confused about what is the substantive focus of kinesiology. Simply put, it is the study of human movement. Programs vary across the nation; for example, some programs have a physical education concentration or offer athletic training.
The ASU program consists of four major areas:
Motor Behavior (comprised of motor control, motor development and motor learning);
Exercise and Health Psychology.
"It is accurate to say that our program focuses on the mechanisms underlying human movement and how the human body responds to movement," Broman said. "Those mechanisms may be neural, physiological, psychological and mechanical. What kinesiology at ASU is not is â€˜applied kinesiology, which is a form of alternative medicine utilizing a specialized manual muscle-testing technique to diagnose and subsequently treat functional problems within the body."
The growth of kinesiology at ASU parallels recent and rapid expansion in universities across the country. According to Inside Higher Ed, the number of undergraduate kinesiology majors grew 50 percent from 2003 to 2008 to 162, making it one of the fastest growing majors.
Job market strong
The job market has fueled the growth of kinesiology programs over the past decade. The two primary career paths are physical therapy and occupational therapy. More than 185,000 physical therapists and 104,000 occupational therapists were employed in the United States in 2008. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment growth rates of 30 and 26 percent, respectively, by 2018.
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