Professional vs. Consumer Sources

Week 1Forum 2 – Professional vs. Consumer Sources

One of the most important skills a professional needs to develop is the ability to critically evaluate published materials related to your professional field. The development of this skill is a major focus of this course.

For this forum, your goal is to identify a topic of interest to you related to your professional/career interests. Note: This should be ONE VERY SPECIFIC topic (for example, someone who is interested in nutrition might want to look at the Atkin’s Diet).

Then, examine information that is available related to this topic from several sources ranging from those readily used by the general public (such as websites) to those normally reserved for professionals (such as peer-reviewed journals). These sources may also include how the topic is portrayed on TV or by professionals in the field that you work around.

Discuss the differences between the manner in which this information is discussed, explained or utilized depending on the type of source in which it is found. Describe your perception of the quality or trustworthiness of the information between the differing source types and what shaped your perception of the quality of the information.

Here is one quick example to help you start thinking in the right direction: You could look around the internet and find many websites touting the value of throwing your running shoes in the garbage and running barefoot to do away with all of your running injuries.

Over and over again, these websites, news stories and professionals in the field will cite a research study by Lieberman, et al. from 2010 claiming that this study showed that those who run barefoot habitually have fewer injuries than those who run in shoes.

However, if you go look at that article, Lieberman, et al. discussed how the examined biomechanics of running barefoot may expose a runner to less of certain forces that may lead to injury but they did not examine if it actually is true. This is just a single example of comparing information on a single specific topic found in varying resources. Sometimes the information found on the internet or in a peer-reviewed journal is both correct and trustworthy; the bigger question is: How do we evaluate the information we find and decide what we should trust to shape our beliefs and practices in the field of Sports and Health Sciences?

Week 2

Forum1

Forum 1 – Current Issues Identified by Practicing Professionals

An important source of professional growth and development is mentoring from other professionals in your field. For this forum, you need to identify an individual in your professional field of interest and have a short conversation with him/her. Your goal is to find out from him/her what he/she thinks are the important “current issues” (or “hot topics”) in that field and why. How does his/her understanding of these issues affect his/her practice of the profession on a daily basis?

 

Forum 2 – Common Statistical Procedures in Research

Many of you will find this to be the most difficult forum of the course but understanding the issues related to the use of statistics in your field is an important part of becoming a skilled professional. For this forum, examine several studies from peer-review journals in your field in the last 2 years. Compare the statistical procedures used in these studies to those used in several studies from 5 years ago or more. Have the typical statistical procedures utilized to examine research data in your professional field changed over time? If so, why? If not, what is the nature of the research in your professional field that still makes the procedures that are typically utilized the most valuable.

As a hint: In answering that second part (why have or haven’t the common procedures utilized changed over time?), it can be valuable to do some general Google-type searching as to what experts in your field might say on websites, commentaries or discussion boards. If you haven’t realized it yet, for any professional field, there is a discussion board on the internet of experts in the field discussing the pertinent issues. The websites I have listed on the syllabus represent a few such sources. You may want to join such a discussion board and begin interacting with professionals in your field.

 

Week 3

Forum 1 – Dietary Prescription / Fad Diets
Any discussion of current issues related to nutrition have to include an examination of dietary prescriptions, specifically those we would refer to as “Fad Diets”. Please do some research about a fad diet that is or has been popular in recent years. Describe the implementation of the dietary plan, the underlying theoretical foundations for its supposed success (physiological, biochemical, lifestyle, etc.) and fully summarize at least 2 citations/studies examining the actual affects and/or successes of the diet. Finally, how would you characterize what the professional’s role should be in promoting or prescribing this or any such dietary plans or “Fad Diets.”

Forum 2 – Nutritional Supplements and Ergogenic Aids

The worlds of sports, training, medicine and human performance are inundated by issues related to nutritional supplements and performance enhancers. Like diets, supplements and ergogenic aids become popular for a time and then are replaced by another only to emerge again in the future.

Please research a nutritional supplement or ergogenic aid that has been a “hot topic” in your field and discuss this substance. Examples of what to consider including might be things like its physiologic effect, its positive and negative effects, any controversial issues related to the substance, the opinions of leading professionals in your field, how the use has changed, etc. Please fully summarize at least 2 citations/studies examining the effects of the substance.

Week 4

Forum 1 – Ethical Issues

Within every field there are ethical issues that arise as important areas of discussion. Please examine an ethical issue that experts in your field are confronting currently. Why does the ethical debate exist and how is it affecting your field? Provide a discussion of all pertinent opinions framing the ethical debate and describe your own personal philosophies related to this issue within your professional practice.

Forum 2 – Sports Psychology

Please research some of the latest theories and practices that are shaping the advancement of the field of Sports Psychology. As a reminder, examining what experts in the field are fighting with each other about on discussion boards can be a helpful place to start. Summarize at least 2 citations/studies examining a theory or practice that is currently a “hot topic” in the field and describe your impression of its practical importance overall and specifically within your field.

Week 5

Biomechanics

Much of our understanding of human performance is based on our understanding of the underlying biomechanics of human motion. This week, go find out what biomechanists are talking about as pertinent contemporary issues for discussion. These may be debates about actual theoretical approaches or about the best ways to take what we know and apply it to areas like sports performance, injury prevention, etc. Discuss what you find with appropriate summaries of at least 2 citations/studies related to the biomechanical topic you are examining. As always, be sure to frame the information you are discussing within the context of your specific area of professional practice.

Forum 2 – Motor Learning

Spend some time thinking about a motor task (the more complex, the better) that you have mastered by this point in your life. Examine the process by which you attained this skill and discuss it in terms of the motor learning processes you have studied in your coursework in this area. Describe how our understanding and fostering of your acquisition of this motor skill has changed over time – for example, would experts in the field of motor learning prescribe the same manner of skill acquisition today as they would at the time you learned the task? Based on our most contemporary understandings of motor learning, how would experts today describe the underlying theory of how this skill would be mastered and how might they foster the development of the skill in varying individuals (such as child, disabled person, or adult) based on that understanding?

Wweek 6

Forum 1 – Strength Training

This forum requires a bit of historical research on your part. In order to understand the “current issues” of any topic, it is necessary to understand the past. In the world of strength training, there are many philosophies about which practices provide the best results and why. Your job is to examine some of these philosophies and describe how they are put into practice in contemporary settings. What are the underlying theories as to why it is the best approach? What components of the historical progression of strength training practice have shaped the formulation of this theory? What does the current body of literature say about the efficacy of this theory? Summarize at least 2 studies/citations related to the approach you are discussing.

Forum 2 – Exercise Physiology

Please examine current research in the field of exercise physiology and identify one of the current areas/trends in this area of research. Summarize several studies that demonstrate how this topic is being researched. How has the current research in this area been shaped by the findings of the recent past. And most importantly, so what? All research is only as good as the useable information we can derive from interpreting its results. In the end, the most important question is: Why are researchers devoting time to this area of study – what do they hope it will reveal or tell them about the some pertinent practical concept?

Week 7

Forum 1 – Optimal Performance

The goal of many of our professional fields can be summarized with the term “optimal performance.” Optimal performance in any number of specific areas within our professional fields will likely contain components of motor learning, biomechanics, exercise physiology, sports psychology and other aspects. Describe how you would describe optimal performance within the context of your specific area of professional practice. Based on the cumulative knowledge you have gathered during this course (and in previous courses) describe a model for obtaining that picture of optimal performance.

No idea what a “model” should look like? Here is an example of how we could model optimal endurance performance, ie. how optimal endurance performance is determined.

Forum 2: Future Current Issues

A major focus of this course has been “Current Topics” within your professional field. We have identified, examined and discussed many of these topics and by now, you should be well on your way to becoming a knowledgeable professional capable of evaluating current trends in your field and shaping your beliefs, philosophies and practices based on the most up-to-date knowledge and research in your field. As you become a truly mature professional, you will find yourself understanding the state of your field to the point of realizing and predicting where the field is heading and what the next “hot topics” will be.
For this forum, using the knowledge you have developed in your field up to this point, describe where you think your profession is heading in the next 5-10 years. How do you think the profession will change? What will be the hot topics that you as a practicing professional will have to address and face in the years to come?

Week 8

Forum 1 – Reflections

As you reflect on the course over the last 8 weeks, please discuss any areas where your professional attitudes, beliefs, philosophy or knowledge have been significantly altered from your experiences in this course. What fostered these changes and developments and how will these new outlooks alter and direct your future practices as a professional in your field?

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