Approach: Unlike undergraduate education that steers students through structured coursework, our graduate program requires students to be passionate about learning, unafraid of making mistakes, genuinely inquisitive and self-sufficient. Most of our graduate classes are taught using the Socratic method. The professors ask practical questions, requiring students to “pull the pieces” together from their years of formal education. A question is posed; students discuss it, research the underlying principles if necessary and provide a logical explanation, with the professor occasionally guiding the students and usually asking additional questions.
For example, after reading about cardiovascular dynamics, students might be asked why heart rate immediately increases when a person stands from a supine (laying down) position? If the students digress and suggest that the heart rate increases because the person is working harder to maintain a standing posture, they might be asked if an increase in metabolic cost would be expected when standing. If the students conclude that metabolic cost would not increase measurably, they might then be asked if cardiac output would be expected to change when standing and explain why or why not. This type of discussion would continue until the students successfully explain that because of impaired venous return due to the column effect of gravity, stroke volume decreases as the person stands, requiring the heart rate to increase to maintain a fairly constant cardiac output.
Lab Experiences: In addition to the use of the Socratic method, we rely heavily on lab and research experiences to strengthen students' understanding of the various topics they study. Our lab is well equipped in both biomechanics and exercise physiology to afford students ample opportunities to collect data under various conditions to help them understand fundamental principles presented in daily discussions.
Training in Two Areas: The professors, one in biomechanics and one in exercise physiology, work together closely and recognize the increasing importance for young exercise scientists to be knowledgeable in both areas. As a result, students in both tracks are held accountable for understanding the fundamental principles in biomechanics and exercise physiology, followed by more intensive study in their area of interest.
Special Studies: Classes taken outside of the Human Performance Laboratory will generally be taught in the more traditional lecture style.