View Full Version : SUMMARY: Undergrad Lab Sections

02-03-1998, 11:02 PM
Dear BIOMCH-Lers:

I would like to thank the following individuals for having responded to
my request for information related to undergraduate lab sections in
and Biomechancs:

Duane Knudson, Tony Bauer, Joann Johnson, Rick Hinrichs, Gideon Ariel,
Larry Abraham, Glenn Street, Pamela Russell, Patrick Castagno,
Young-Hoo Kwon, Jeff Ives, Edwin DeMont, Greg Anson, Randall Jensen,
Gordon Robertson, Darla Smith, Melissa Gross.

The responses and information provided were as varied as the programs
curriculums of the different institutions. Based on the information
here is a summary:
1. Kinesiology and Biomechanics courses ranged from 30-70 students,
with 1-3 lecture sections
2. Laboratory sections were generally 2 hours/week (range: 1-3
although one respondent had a laboratory experience every other week
3. There number of students per lab section varied from 10-30 students,
with 1-12 laboratory sections.

Below is the original request for information, followed by the
responses (edited for brevity).

Dear BIOMCH-Lers:

Our undergraduate curriculum in Physical Education is undergoing a major
revision. Currently, one Kinesiology course (approximately 100-120
students) and one Biomechanics course (approximately 25-35 students) are
offerred each semester. Each course is 3 credits (3 hours of
lecture/week). The curriculum revision dictates the implementation of
laboratory sections for both courses. Whether this is feasible (or even
possible) would obviously be dependent on a number of factors (eg -
scheduling, facilities/space required, equipment, teaching load,
faculty/staff/assistants available, funding, how many credit hours this
would add to the curriculum, etc.)

To provide some background information about our program, most of the
undergraduate students in Physical Education are interested in teacher
certification. The kinesiology and biomechanics labs would have to be
more qualitative, and geared towards movement analysis, teaching, sports
skills and applications. Currently, I am one of 8 new faculty members
hired in 1997, and the only biomechanist in the department. We do not
have a graduate program in biomechanics (yet), and therefore do not have
the graduate assistants to run the labs.

The questions I have (and hopefully, answers I can provide to my dept
chair) include:
1. Does anyone know how many programs (Kinesiology/PE) are out there
that have lab sections for the Kinesiology and Biomechanics
courses versus programs that do not? What is the ratio of "haves"
versus "have nots"? Is that information available anywhere?
2. For those whose program or courses do not have lab sections, why
not? Is is due to lack of funding, lack of faculty/staff/assistants,
increased faculty load, inadequate time for research, or other reasons?
3. How many lab sections should there be for a lecture class of 120
4. What type of space and/or facilties would be required?
5. How long should each lab section be (contact hours), and how many
credits should it add to the program?
6. How many biomechanics faculty members would be required to implement
such a programatic change?
7. For those who do have lab sections in their courses, what were the
challenges and pitfalls to avoid in implementing the labs?

I have searched the BIOMCH-L archives and found inquiries regarding:
equipment for laboratories, instructional materials for undergraduate
labs, books for lab courses, and undergraduate Kines/Ex. Science
requirements. I have not found any information related to the questions
I have asked.

I will post a summary of the responses received, and provide some
statistic (or ratio) of how many programs have kinesiology and/or
biomechanics lab sections, and how many don't (provided I also get
responses from those who do not have lab sections).

From: "Duane Knudson"

I have the 1984 kines instructor survey paper. Miriam Satern was
collecting data at this year at the teaching conference, but was also
out surveys. You could contact her about the most recent percentages.

We have two kinesiology sections of about 30-36 students each semester.
lecture consists of three 12 person labs. This goes on every semester
summer. You definatly need a lab assistant or dramatic load
reduction/assignment to lab sessions/lab directing.

From: "tony bauer"

I can relate to your problems although the situation here
at Lakehead is not identical Labs are a problem due to space, support
staff and numbers ranging from 30 to 140 per class. We have graduate
student support but not always with the skills to run Labs in the
Biomechanics area. I have overcome the problem to some degree by only
offering 6 Labs, one every second week depending on whether I have
covered the material. I provide all the Labs in a manual in advance
and students can complete the Lab working as a group then hand it in
to be checked. The Labs are checked through by the TA with
indications where there are errors but a grade is not given. I then
review the Lab in class and corrections are then made by each
student.The content of the Lab is examinable and all the Labs are
handed in at the end of the course to be graded for completion.
It is possible to overcome having to grade each Lab,forcing the
students to work together then have the work reinforced with
corrections in class. The problems with numbers and marking are
reduced somewhat and there is still a reasonable learning experience.
After many years of slogging it out with limited staff support and
large numbers this is the point I have reached. I hope this helps.We
have 3 courses, one required Introductory course which would be along
lines of your course for teaching and 2 electives, one in
Rehabilitation and Ergonomics which I teach and one in Lab techniques
which we alternate with Moira Mcpherson. We also have a Grad Course
for research based approaches. I hope this helps but I do not have
any stats on the set up in other programs.


From: joann johnson

At the University of Minnesota, Duluth, I am the only (lonely)
biomechanist. I teach two quarters of biomechanics (applied anatomy,
physics, cinematography content) plus summer session per year. Total
enrollment about 75. Motion analysis is handled through the
cinematography unit and then two additional whole quarter
courses in videography, both required.

Several lab manuals for biomechanics/kinesiology are out there...., you
could come
up with a series off fundamental "lab" projects that could even be done,
to some extent, by students without faculty supervision.

From: Rick Hinrichs

At ASU we have three faculty members teaching biomechanics in our
department (Phil Martin, and Karin Gerritsen, and me). We typically
two large lecture sections of 60 students, with one faculty member in
charge of each. Then each of these classes is broken into three lab
sections (20 each). There are graduate students in charge of each lab
section. We are currently experimenting with reducing the lecture size
44 students and making two labs of 22 in each, but offerring three of
to accomodate 132 students per semester. Our program has grown
exponentially in the last few years. We had 350 majors when I arrived
years ago. Now we have more than triple that. It has fueled the need
add a third faculty member to our biomechanics staff.

From: Gideon Ariel

Just to let you know that you can upgrade your APAS system for the new
Pentium system with work stations for every student on his desk for
$15,000.00 Read it on the web at http://www.arielnet.com

From: l.abraham@mail.utexas.edu (Larry Abraham)

Anyway, I can't answer all the questions you posed about teaching lab
sections, but can tell you a little ancient history about my experience
here at Texas. When I arrived many years ago I was in a pretty similar
situation, only I was teaching two lecture sections (total entollment
110) and our curriculum only included one class to cover Kinesiology and
Biomechanics (with a human anatomy prerequisite). After a couple of
I told the department that the students would learn much more with
lab experiences, so we added a 3 hours/week lab (no additional course
credit) which I taught (I also had no graduate students in
I set the lab section enrollment maximum at 15 and taught 4-7 labs each
semester. I used a regular classroom and had a budget of $300/year for
equipment and supplies. My philosophy was that most of what we needed
do was experience natural laws, a great benefit was the small class size
and the hands on format. I used mostly regular sports equipment or
homemade lab items, along with a high-speed camera and a stop-action
projector (today of course I'd use video). I think it was a great
though it took quite a bit of my time, and I could easily keep the
and lab content coordinated.

I forgot to mention that a recent PhD graduate of mine who knows a lot
about my undergraduate labs is now in Buffalo doing a postdoc and wpuld
probably be glad to visit with you. His name is Dimitri Kalakanis and I
think he can still be reached by email at kalakanis@mail.utexas.edu

If not, check the biomch-l registration list.

From: Glenn Street

I am unaware of sources of information that could answer your questions
about undergraduate labs in kinesiology or biomechanics. If you try to
compile information from those responding to your email message, I have
provided the information about our undergraduate labs at St. Cloud State
1. We have weekly lab sessions for our kinesiology/biomechanics class.
2. We handle between 24-30 students per lab section.
3. Minimal space is required. Most labs are conducted in a single room:
(egs. cadaver lab, anatomy classroom with skeletons, classroom, indoor
track, human performance lab).
4. Our lab periods are 2 hrs for 1 credit.
5. The number of faculty needed is determined by the number of credits
being offered in these classes divided by the number of credits a
member is required to teach at the institution.
6. We have found that lab experiences strengthen the quality of the
substantially. The initial challenges are to:
a) select topics that will have the greatest relevance to the students
their future professions
b) keep the labs as simple as possible; making sure students leave with
clear take-home message and minimizing the use of sophisticated and
expensive equipment
7. Most academic terms I rely on the assistance of graduate and/or
undergraduate students in the lab sessions, but have also run them
If you keep them simple, it is relatively easy to run lab sessions

From: prussell@bridgew.edu (Pamela Russell)

I am facing similar issues as a new faculty member at Bridgewater State
College in Massachusetts. We currently have only one
Biomechanics class that is offerred in 3 sections
each semester and the College has just changed the course
name from Kinesiology to Biomechanics. We are in the
process of getting a new facility (3 years from now most
likely) and as the only biomechanicst I want to have
some lab space in that facility for teaching and
research purposes. I will share my thoughts
with you on some of these questions.
The questions relating to statistical information:
may be addressed by a survey that was passed out at
the Teaching Kinesiology/Biomechanics Conference held
at TWU this past summer. Miriam Satern was collecting
the survey. I do not have her e-mail address, but I think
she is at the Univ of Illinois in Macomb, Ill.

>3. How many lab sections should there be for a lecture class of 120

The answer to this may be soley dependent upon space and
scheduling issues, but I do laboratory-type activities with a
group of 30 students broken into smaller groups of 4-5. I don't
think you want a group any larger than 30 and smaller groups
would be preferable.

>4. What type of space and/or facilties would be required?

You will need a space where students can perform/observe movements.
If there is equipment in the room, there should be adequate storage
space for it and enough space for students to still move about. I have
a hard time getting my students to feel comfortable doing a simple
vetical jump exercise in a classroom with the desks pushed aside.

>5. How long should each lab section be (contact hours), and how many
>credits should it add to the program?

Lab sections are usually 3 contact hours, but you may be able to get
with 2 hours - again dependent upon group size and scheduling issues.
I think the addition of a lab to a course usually adds 1 credit
hour, but this may be dependent upon contact hours and some
policey established by SUNY-Brockport.

>6. How many biomechanics faculty members would be required to implement
>such a programatic change?

If you do a mass lecture section - one faculty member could do
both the biomechanics and kinesiolgy, but you would need someone
to do the labs and help with the paperwork (e.g., a couple of
good grad assistants, perhaps workstudy students, or upperclass
students with an interest in biomechanics could be given
independent study credits for assiting you). Of course another
faculty member would be nice, but you might need more support
from the administration to get one.

>7. For those who do have lab sections in their courses, what were the
>challenges and pitfalls to avoid in implementing the labs?
I do not have a lab section (yet), but do have my stduents doing
small group lab-type activities in the classroom. I have worked
in settings with lab sections and agree that they are an
excellent supplement to an undergraduate biomechanics course.

From: Patrick Castagno

I am an instructor of undergraduate biomechanics at the university of
delaware. I teach the course 3 times per year. It is a 4 credit course
for lecture, 1 for lab). Everyone (30-35 students per term) meets
for lecture 2 times per week for 1.5 hours. Then this group is broken
into 2 sections for lab which meets once a week for 2 hours. I dont
understand how you cant effectively teach an undergraduate biomechanics
course without a lab. There is so much that students need to see or put
your hands on/experience. My labs are dedicated to
seeing/using/uderstanding laboratory instrumentation. What a forceplate
measures, what a foot pressure device measures, how different from a
forceplate, high-speed video systems, frame rates, shutter speeds.
each student must select a sport skill to perform under high-speed video
(2D). Students complete a mini thesis on the sports skill. They write
review of lit, methods, results, discussion, biblio. For results they
their own data and process 2-d joint curves to be used in paper. I cant
imagine this course without a lab to accomplish all of this.

I think the size of the lab section depends on the instrumentation
and personel to teach. A class of 120 I would break up into 5 or 6

Only thing to say is to try to establish continuity between lecture and
lab. I kind of look at it as theory in lecture, applied in lab.

From: "Young-Hoo Kwon, Ph.D."

Here are what we are doing at Ball State.

General overview:

Our undergrad kinesiology is a 3-cr course. This is a compulsory to all
the PE and EXSCI majors. It was originally planned as 2 hours lecture &
2 hours of lab, but I use three hours for lecture and one for the lab.
Five sections (up to 20 students each) are offered in each semester.
This semester, 2 full-time faculty members and 1 instructor will teach.
We are planning to have up to 14 labs:

Orientation & Video
Lab 1: Range of Motion
Lab 2: EMG
Lab 3: Trig.Vector Problems
Lab 4: Time Analysis
Lab 5: Linear Motion Analysis
Lab 6: Projectile Motion
Lab 7: Biomechanics Lab tour
Lab 8: Angular Motion Analysis
Lab 9: Ground Reaction Force
Lab 10: Impulse
Lab 11: Moment of Force
Lab 12: Moment of Inertia
Lab 13: BSPs & Segmental Method
Lab 14: Video

We have the materials and equipment of some of these ready but some not.
This is my 2nd semester here at Ball State and I am in the process of
shaping up the labs. I'll put some of the labs on the Web this semester.

To me, the system which Penn State is adopting is a sort of model. Penn
State has one lecture class of 60 students (EXSCI 484 Biomechanics) but
broken into three lab sections of 20. Twenty students in one section
sounds about right. They have a lab packet which students can purchase
at the bookstore. They have a dedicated classroom for the undergrad labs
and pretty decent hardware & software to run the labs. Each semester 2
to 3 graduate assistants are assigned to the labs and they will take
care of all the labs. I am sort of following Penn State right now. You
may want to contact with someone at Penn State. The phone number of the
Biomechanics Lab is (814) 865-3445.

There is a plan to move to large class (by Fall 1999) here at Ball
State. Combining all sections into one large section for the lectures
and keep the current small units for the labs. I plan to computerize the
lectures using Web, PowerPoint and programs written in Visual family
languages. I am also planning to have the labs on the Web as Dr. Gerry
Smith at Oregon State does. There will be advantages and disadvantages
in web-based lectures and labs, but I don't know exactly yet.

From: "Jeff Ives, Ph.D. 607-274-1751"

here at Ithaca College our Kinesiology/Functional Anatomy
course (freshman level) has an average of 70 students per semester.
Students are both PE and Exercise Science majors. The biomechanics
course (soph. level) has 30-45 exercise science students depending on
semester. Both courses (as well as the Neuromuscular Control course)
are 3 credits: 2 lecture hours per week plus a 2 hour lab. Each lab
(kines and biomech) have up to 16 students per lab (biomech tries to
keep it to about 12 max as does Neuromuscular Control). Students, esp.
in Kinesiology, typically work in lab groups of 3-4 students. For our
Kines instructor the number of labs works makes his schedule just
about right for the number of credits (note: we get 1.75 credits for
each 2 hour lab--a sorry affair we are trying to rectify) per semester
(12 credits each semester--another little thing we are trying to fix).
For biomech the instructor teaches 3-4 labs sections per semester.
His schedule is filled out with other classes.

A couple of things. Insist on 4 credit classes (e.g., 3 lecture hours
a 2 hr. lab). With a lab 3 credits is really not adequate unless it is
2 semester course. Our Anatomy course and Exer. Physiol. course are
both 4 credits. Insist on 2 hrs teaching credit for each 2 hr. lab.
Without grad instructors (like us) teaching labs is more work than
lectures, regardless if you teach the same lab 4 times per week. Lab
prep, esp. for biomechanics, is rather involved and due to the
complexity of the equipment it does not make for a lot of independent
student work (ie. the instructor runs the show). Also, the equipment
precludes multiple "stations" (e.g., 4 forceplates and 4 motion analysis
systems is out of the question) and thus each group being able to
work independently.

I have another suggestion that we toyed with here. A single text
may suit you well for both Kines andbiomech; entirely feasible
since you teach both. I would suggest Luttgensand Hamilton's
Kinesiology text. The only reason we did not do this here
is because we got in a new faculty member to teach Kines and he and
the Biomech instructor (I teach Neuromuscular Control) I do not think
have coordinated things yet.

From: Edwin DeMont

I teach a course in a department that was recently
modifed to remove most of the teacher education
component. I teach a third year biomechanics
course, which is now well developed on the web.
More information can be found at:


From: "J Greg Anson"

At the University of Otago two required Kinesiology papers are
included in the Bacheleor of Phys Ed degree. Each paper is one
semester and has about 200 students. Both papers are lecture/lab
format. 3 lectures per week and a 2 hour lab. We maximise lab group
size at 20 and usually offer 12 sections for each lab. Labs run M-TH,
3 sections per day at 2, 4, and 6 pm. Lab organisation is overseen by
a TA and actual labs are taught by demonstrators (2 per 20 students;
1 if 10 or fewer in a section). There are 11-12 labs for each paper.

I have replied to some of your questions below.

> 4. What type of space and/or facilties would be required?
Dedicated teaching space with sufficient computer resources for 1 per
2 students

> 5. How long should each lab section be (contact hours), and how many
> credits should it add to the program?

2 hours - cant comment on credit rating as we use a point system that
is associated with contact and private study hours per week. e.g.,
These are 6 point papers which equates to roughly 12 hours per week
so students have approx 5-6 contact hours and would be expected to do
6-7 private study hours per week for each paper.

> 6. How many biomechanics faculty members would be required to implement
> such a programatic change?

The labs are overseen by Kinesiology faculty, but implemented by TA's
and demonstrators (tutors) who are usually grad students, final year
honours students, or final year undergrads who have already taken
these papers.

> 7. For those who do have lab sections in their courses, what were the
> challenges and pitfalls to avoid in implementing the labs?

Have always had labs since I have been at Otago. Challenges are
streaming of students to lab sections (1st couple of weeks);
consistency of demonstrators, marking and administering labs etc. All
can be overcome and are small relative to the benefits of the labs in
providing students with some hands on science experience.

From: Randall Jensen

Our Dept. is in the process of switching from a single 3 cr. Mechanical
Kinesiology course to two courses of 2 cr. each, titled Anatomical
Kinesiology (AK) and Mechanical Kinesiology (MK). In addition, we
have a 2 cr. Sport Biomechanics class that will stay on the books. The
current MK class is required by Physical Educ (teacher cert), Health
Fitness Management and Sport Science majors. Sport Biomechanics is
by Sport Science. Current plans are for AK to be required of all majors
with MK and Sport Biomechanics required of Sport Science majors.

The current MK class includes approximately 25% of time spent on
focus, 40% of time spent on physics/mechanical focus, and 35% spent on
applications. New focus would expand time for AK and include
10-15% of that class dealing with physics/mechanical focus. MK would
only 5-10% reviewing anatomical factors with other areas expanded. Sport
Biomech deals primarily with hands on assessment using video analysis
2-D manual digitization and anthropometrics. I am the only Biomechanist,
but we usually have GA's teach the labs.

Currently our 2 hr lab sections have 10-16 students with 1-3 labs each
semester. Our labs are held in the same room (30' X 35') as the Ex Phys
labs which also houses a small adult fitness program. The equipment and
focus of the labs are primarily qualitative (except for Sport Biomech).

Forgot to mention on the last post, that I do teach a lab session some
semesters. Depends on my load and that of the GA's. Also we don't have
that are specifically Biomech people, but with a total of 8 that shift
about every two years we always seem to end up with at least one. Your
situation is obviously more difficult without them, plus being alone.
I was at Univ of North Texas there were no designed labs, but we tried
incorporate them into the lectures (3 hrs / week). This obviously
the amount of time that could be spent on them. Prior to my going there,
there was only one Biomech guy and two Ex Phys (a situation very similar
your's with approx 100 students per term). I never found out why, but my
guess is labs weren't included due to lack of bodies to cover them and
facilities to hold them in. Good luck with your revisions.

From: "D. Gordon E. Robertson, Ph.D."

Here's the answers to your questions from the School of Human Kinetics
at the University of Ottawa, ON, Canada.

>1. Does anyone know how many programs (Kinesiology/PE) are out there
>that have lab sections for the Kinesiology and Biomechanics
>courses versus programs that do not? What is the ratio of "haves"
>versus "have nots"? Is that information available anywhere?

Our advanced course in biomechanics has a lab but the two intro. courses
do not. There is a proposal to add an optional lab course in the

>2. For those whose program or courses do not have lab sections, why
>not? Is is due to lack of funding, lack of
>faculty/staff/assistants, increased faculty load, inadequate
>time for research, or other reasons?

We don't offer a lab for the intro course because of the size of our
program (approx. 100 students) makes it too expensive.

>3. How many lab sections should there be for a lecture class of 120

Max. of 10 per lab depends upon the size of the biomechanics lab.

>4. What type of space and/or facilties would be required?

Large lab. equipped with video and force platforms.

>5. How long should each lab section be (contact hours), and how many
>credits should it add to the program?

Usually 2 hours but 3 are preferable.

>6. How many biomechanics faculty members would be required to implement
>such a programatic change?

We need two.

>7. For those who do have lab sections in their courses, what were the
>challenges and pitfalls to avoid in implementing the labs?

A lab. technician is very valuable. We have a shared technician who
is often not available. Equipment breakdowns are a problem. Use well
established (debugged) software.

From: "Darla R. Smith"

I don't know if this information will help you or not but here
is what we do at UTEP. A very high percentage of our majors are also
teacher prep. We require a semester of anatomical kinesiology (3 hour
course with no lab) which is a prerequisite for a semester of
(3 hours - 2 hour lecture and 2 hour lab). The lab is taught by a
student. We cap the biomechanics class at 24 because our lab space is

From: Melissa Gross

I include a motion analysis project in my undergraduate
biomechanics class that is required for Movement Science
majors in the Division of Kinesiology at the University of
Michigan (60 students each semester). I use a campus
computing site that supports multimedia for the weekly 2-hr
lab sessions. The project is described at:

Once again, thank you to all the contributors.

Danny Too
State University New York at Brockport
Department of Physical Education and Sport
350 New Campus Drive
Brockport, NY 14420-2989

Tel: (716)-395-2403
Fax: (716)-395-2771
Email: dtoo@po.brockport.edu