Teaching in the Active Living Classroom - Certificate

Program Contacts

Program Director

Alex Dickman


A steady increase in the percentage of American children whose health is at risk from being severely overweight has prompted a nationwide call to action. Federal initiatives encourage agencies and institutions concerned with the health and well-being of our nation’s youth to develop programs that address what has been called an epidemic of childhood obesity. The primary focus of these initiatives is providing opportunities for children to make healthy nutritional choices and to engage in regular physical activity.  Since most children spend the majority of their waking hours in school, it is safe to assume that a large part of the responsibility for successful implementation of these initiatives will ultimately fall to educational administrators, school personnel, and classroom teachers.

Program Goals

The program goals of the graduate certificate program, Teaching in the Active Living Classroom, include the training of teachers in pre-school, primary grades, and upper elementary classrooms to use physical activity as a means of decreasing the amount of time their students are sedentary during the school day. By focusing on the professional development of classroom teachers, the program represents an effort to address a pressing public health need, while supporting the mission of the Department of Exercise Science:   “…to provide …graduate level training in the science and practice of exercise and physical activity within the greater context of public health …”.1  The program will prepare teachers and school personnel to increase opportunities for children to engage in physical activity as an integral part of their academic lessons, above and beyond formal physical education classes. Although physical activity is widely acknowledged as an essential part of a child’s healthy growth and development, physical education curricula often fall victim to budget cuts and time constraints imposed by external mandates. This program empowers classroom teachers to step beyond the boundaries of the gymnasium and recess blacktop and successfully integrate physical activity into learning throughout the school day. By doing so, classroom teachers will be encouraging their students to engage in positive health behaviors, while enhancing their academic learning and positive classroom behaviors.

Program Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the program, participants will have acquired the knowledge, skills, and tools needed to incorporate into their academic classes a variety of physical activities that decrease the amount of time their students are sedentary. The resulting classroom interventions will be developmentally suited to the age and ability levels of the students, compatible with the participant’s individual teaching style, and appropriate to the educational setting in which they are introduced. By increasing the activity levels of their students throughout the school day, participants will enhance the learning environment, improve students’ ability to focus on academic tasks, and increase positive classroom behaviors.

Certificate recipients will:

  1. Improve their understanding of the benefits of physical activity as an integral part of their students’ healthy growth and development.
  2. Critically examine current federal, state, and local initiatives to reduce the number of obese or severely overweight children in the United States and assess the extent to which these initiatives are being implemented in schools.
  3. Explore the relationship between level of physical activity and the rising rates of obesity and related health issues among our nation’s children.
  4. Appreciate the growing body of evidence that incorporating physical activity into the classroom can enhance children’s cognition and their ability to retain information and achieve in school.
  5. Explore current initiatives and grassroots efforts to increase physical activity level of children as part of a healthy lifestyle.
  6. Develop the knowledge and skills to adapt existing tools and resources to create classroom initiatives appropriate to their own unique teaching situations.
  7. Become familiar with the strategies with which to effect positive change in their professional community with regard to the benefits of regular physical activity during the school day, above and beyond recess and the physical education curriculum.


Participants who successfully complete this certificate program will be able to:


  1. Apply systems thinking to identify and overcome barriers to implementing active living initiatives in schools.
  2. Value how physical activity levels of primary and elementary school children are related to their cognitive, emotional and physical development.
  3. Analyze current research in educational neuroscience that provides evidence that integrating physical activity in the classroom has a positive effect on students’  learning, including memory, information processing, and academic achievement.
  4. Compare and contrast existing classroom-based physical activity programs with instructional physical education curricula, and appreciate the benefits of both types of learning experiences.
  5. Demonstrate leadership skills for building partnerships with school administrators and colleagues to enlist their interest in and support of implementation of classroom-based physical activity programs. 
  6. Apply motor learning, behavioral, and social learning theories to evaluate the suitability of specific physical activities for use in academic classrooms.
  7. Design, obtain informed consent, implement, and evaluate the effectiveness of a physical activity intervention appropriate to a specific grade level or discipline in a school.

Program Requirements and Delivery

Online Course Delivery 

This graduate certificate program will be offered entirely online, with project work conducted in the participant’s home school. Students will be required to successfully complete 12 graduate credit hours of sequential coursework, organized into three online courses. The first course is a three credit course offered during the first six weeks of the summer session. The second course is four credits and will be completed in eight weeks. The third course is a five credit course extended over a full (fall) semester. This course includes an applied research project in either a pre-school, kindergarten, or one of the elementary grades. Program participants realistically can expect to earn their certificate within less than one year. 

Instructional Content Delivery

Each of the three courses is divided into Learning Modules designed for online delivery and supported by Blackboard 9.1. Modules are subdivided into calendar weeks, with each week devoted to attaining specific learning outcomes and objectives through scholarly readings, interactive and collaborative online activities, and formative assessments. Course 1 is a pre-requisite for Course 2, and Course 1 and 2 are pre-requisites for Course 3.  

Technology Requirements

Registered participants will have access to the University LMS (Blackboard 9.1). Students will be required to have a computer and microphone.  Availability of a camcorder will be recommended but not required.  Instruction will be primarily asynchronous, although opportunities for synchronous collaboration will be provided using tools available in Blackboard Collaborative. Each week’s learning activities will be introduced via an instructional screencast that will provide detailed directions for use of Blackboard or web-based tools.  Materials and resources will be supplied online via links, slide lectures, podcasts, or video, and all slide presentations will be accompanied by narration.


This course will adhere to the guidelines established by Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning (CITL) in April, 2011: Accessibility:  Best Practices for eTeaching. These guidelines ensure that the course will meet ADA standards for online courses, including screen readability and equivalent alternatives to audio and visual materials.


Participants will become members of a social networking group that will provide opportunities to sustain collaboration and professional support beyond the certificate program.


Program Requirements

  1. 12 credits are required.
  2. Students must follow course sequencing.
  3. Grade Point Requirement.  A 3.0 (B average) overall grade point average or better is required.
  4. Time Limit Requirement. The certificate must be completed within 2 years.



Federal Compliance

The need to address the sedentary lifestyle of the majority of children in the U. S. is evident in the number of governmental agencies and professional organizations engaged in efforts to combat childhood obesity and its concomitant health issues. The Centers for Disease Control reports that approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2—19 years are obese. Since 1980, obesity prevalence among children and adolescents has almost tripled. Increasing opportunities for all students to engage in physical activity during the school day is one of the federal guidelines established for schools in 2011.2   New to USDHHS’ Healthy People 2020 are objectives related to “…policies targeting younger children through…” physical activity in childcare settings and recess and physical education in public and private schools. 3 In October, 2010, President Obama announced a White House initiative to address childhood obesity by establishing a task force on the nutritional and physical activity needs of children (the “Let’s Move Campaign”).4 A major part of the AAHPERD-NASPE-AHE action plan, “Let’s Move in School”, provides a platform for educators and other professionals to encourage support for programs initiated through the National Physical Activity Plan.5 Since most children aged three to twelve spend the majority of their time in school, many of these initiatives target schools as primary settings for implementation.

To date, however, national and state-wide initiatives have had little widespread impact on the number of opportunities most elementary school students have for physical activity during the school day. Data from the most recent survey by the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance suggests that only 16% of elementary schools in the U. S. are providing a comprehensive school physical activity program (CSPAP).6 This certificate program will empower classroom teachers to implement physical activities that will augment the curricular offerings in physical education.

This 12 credit hour graduate certificate program will be offered entirely online with project work conducted in the participant's home school.

2.  Nutrition, Physical Activity, & Obesity. School Health Guidelines to Promote Healthy Eating and Physical Activity, Vol. 60, No. 5.  September 16, 2011.

3.   http://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topicsobjectives2020/overview.aspx?topicid=33

4.   Presidential Memorandum: Establishing a Task Force on Childhood Obesity, October, 2010.   www.whitehouse.gov

5.   http://www.physicalactivityplan.org/theplan.php

6.   http://www.aahperd.org/pressroom/cspap_surveyreport.cfm


Additional Certificate Information

Standard Occupation Classification (SOC) Codes

SOC codes listed relate to traditional expected employment fields. The exclusion of other codes does not preclude someone from entering a different field if they are otherwise qualified.

25-2021Teachers, Elementary School, Except Special Education
25-3099Teachers, All Others
11-9032Education Administrators, Elementary School
21-1091Education, Health

Employability and Career Decision-Making

Completion of a certificate program, combined with previous experiences, specialized skills, and other factors may enable individuals to seek promotion to a new or different-level position or employment in a specific, etc. Students are encouraged to work with program faculty, the SPHHS Office of Student Affairs, and others to best understand how a certificate program may be utilized within the workforce and to develop a thoughtful career plan. Students should also understand all the factors required to ensure success in a job search such as specialized experience, the state of the economy, organizational culture, etc.

Visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics web site.

Approximate Cost of Attendance

MajorLocationCredit HoursCost of ProgramFees and TextbooksTotal Approximate Cost
(AY 2013-2014)
All SPHHS Certificate ProgramsDistance Learning12$12,020$100.00 estimate$12,120

Due to the number of participants who completed this Graduate Certificate program, information regarding median loan debt levels and graduation rates are not required.






School of Public Health and Health Services


Graduate Certificate

Teaching in the Active Living Classroom






Required Courses

PUBH 6301

Physical Activity and Children’s Learning

This course examines the scientific and empirical evidence that supports the current initiatives to increase the physical activity of children in pre-school through grade six.


Summer Session 1

PUBH 6302

Classroom Based Physical Activity

This course provides participants with opportunities to explore resources, develop materials, and gain the knowledge and skills with which to create a physical activity program to reduce the amount of time students are sedentary in their classrooms.  


Summer Session 2

PUBH 6303

Implementing the Active Living Classroom

Participants in this course design and implement a pilot program of physical activity that decreases the amount of time children are sedentary in their classrooms. Participants present and evaluate their programs using both asynchronous and synchronous instructional tools.




Total Certificate Credits




Past Program Guides

This is the current program guide for this program. Students should follow the course requirements from the year in which they entered the program.

Past Guides:

Certificate Teaching in the Active Living Classroom 2013-2014

Guides that are not available online can be acquired from the Academic Affairs Program Coordinator in the Dean's Office.