To PETE, or Not to PETE - That is the Question

Posted on June 9, 2022 by Zoe Blair
Zoe Blair

Dr. Craig Parkes and Dr. Shelley Holden data-lightbox='featured'

Dr. Craig Parkes, assistant professor in the Department of Health, Kinesiology, and Sport, was awarded an internal research grant from the University of South Alabama College of Education and Professional Studies. Parkes, who is serving as principal investigator, and Dr. Shelley Holden, who serves as a professor in the Department of Health, Kinesiology, and Sport and co-principal investigator for the grant, received $2,000 to better understand why physical education teacher education (PETE) undergraduate programs are seeing a decline in enrollment.

Many PETE programs at major universities, such as Penn State University and Purdue University, have seen a decline in enrollment and have had to cut their programs entirely. Parkes and Holden plan to investigate why students are choosing other majors or other career paths. 

“We are passionate about this project because we are seeing a national trend of declining enrollments in teacher education, especially in physical education teacher education,” said Parkes, who serves as the health and physical education program coordinator at South.

Parkes and Holden plan to conduct their research by interviewing a variety of students, including those who are currently PETE students, those who left the program for another major, as well as graduate students who are pursuing their alternative master’s in PETE.

The ultimate goal of the research project is to increase PETE recruitment and retention. By understanding why students are leaving the programs, they hope to better understand how to adapt their programs to increase enrollment.

“We hope that our findings will help us understand why some students are still choosing to enroll in physical education teacher education programs during this decline, and more importantly why some students are choosing to not enroll,” Parkes said. “The findings will then help us to develop purposeful recruitment strategies.”

Internal research grant recipients will make presentations to the college in spring 2023 regarding the findings and impact of their research as well as future external funding proposals that may result from these seed grants.

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