Teaching

Dr Ekkekakis teaches courses pertaining to exercise psychology and research methods, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. 

KIN 366: Exercise Psychology

 

KIN 366 is a course designed to cover: (a) psychological theories for understanding and predicting health-oriented exercise behavior; (b) psychological and psychobiological responses to exercise; (c) psychological interventions for increasing exercise participation and adherence.

KIN 366 is a required course for several options in the undergraduate Kinesiology curriculum and is usually highly rated by students. 


Teaching KIN 366
KIN 366: Exercise Psychology

Topics include: 

  • Short introduction to the course
  • Why does the world need exercise psychology?
  • Fundamentals of research
  • Exercise prescription trends
  • Acute effects on state anxiety and mood
  • Mechanisms of acute "feel-better" effects
  • Acute affective responses: Dose-response
  • Dual-mode theory
  • Instructions for Evidence-Based Practice Project
  • Rating of Perceived Exertion
  • Chronic exercise and mental health
  • Exercise and personality
  • Exercise and cognitive function
  • Health Belief Model
  • Theory of Reasoned Action and Theory of Planned Behavior
  • Social Cognitive Theory
  • Transtheoretical Model
  • Correlates of physical activity
  • Physical activity interventions

Some video clips from KIN 366: Exercise Psychology

 A study on the perceived effectiveness of antidepressant treatments. How is exercise rated by individuals diagnosed with clinical depression?

As exercise intensity approaches an individual's maximal capacity, the prefrontal cortex is deactivated. Why does this happen? 

How do you help an individual who is out-of-shape and feels bad during even modest intensities of exercise? 

In the case of interoceptive stimuli, such as those generated during exercise, the amygdala can be reached via multiple "low roads." Why?

Pleasure and displeasure evolved because they served some function that was important for survival. 

Bodily movement, physical activity has been an integral part of human evolution. 

When you give individuals the autonomy to self-select their exercise intensity, most will pick an appropriate level but some will pick intensities that are either too low to be effective or too high to be safe.

What are the predictions of the Dual Mode Theory about the relation between different levels of exercise intensity and affective responses (i.e., pleasure vs. displeasure)?

A common adage in exercise science and the popular press is that "exercise makes people feel better." But is this really true for most people?

The Profile of Mood States (POMS) is one of the most popular measures in exercise psychology. But few of the researchers who use it are aware of its history. 

Oftentimes, exercise programs are promoted on the basis of short-term adaptations in fitness or health. But the only really effective exercise intervention is the one that can be sustained over the long haul. 

Exercise fads, such as High-Intensity Interval Training, are promoted on the basis of promises that you only need to do "a little bit" of exercise. What are the psychological implications of these promises? 

Most people who start exercise programs drop out. While it may be comforting to exercise professionals to think that this is a failure on the part of the individual who quit, it is in fact the responsibility of the exercise professional to help prevent the dropout. 

In the mid-1990s, the focus of exercise science started to shift, from recommending regimented exercise programs to recommending incorporating more physical activity into people's lifestyles. 

Perceived lack of discretionary or leisure time is reliably reported as the leading cause of physical inactivity. But is this claim really true? 

On August 17, 2009, TIME magazine cover story was entitled "The Myth About Exercise." Let's look at the portrayal of exercise in that article. 



KIN 521: Advanced Topics in Exercise and Sport Psychology

 

Aspects of psychology which form a basis for understanding and explaining behavior in the context of exercise and sport. Emphasis on evaluating published research, particularly theory and research methodology. Student presentations.



KIN 590B: Special Topics in Health Promotion (Critical Appraisal for Evidence-Based Practice in Kinesiology)

 

KIN 590B is designed to (a) introduce advanced undergraduate and graduate students to the mechanisms of bias in research and (b) provide students with the fundamental skill set to conduct meaningful, in-depth critical appraisal of published research, with emphasis on Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) and meta-analyses. [Course promotion brochure]
 

Topics include (see detailed list): 

  • Bias in research
  • Coming to terms with the fact the money makes the world go round
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Levels of evidence
  • RCTs
  • Meta-analysis
  • Guideline development
  • Basics of research design
  • Most research findings are false
  • Errors of statistical inference (I, II)
  • alpha, beta
  • t-test, ANOVA
  • Statistical significance
  • Meaningfulness, Effect sizes
  • Multiplicity problem, alpha splitting 
  • Statistical power, power analysis
  • Systematic reviews, Cochrane reviews
  • Basics of meta-analysis
  • Searching the scientific literature
  • Lessons from tobacco and pharmaceutical industry trials 
  • Basics of critical appraisal
  • Evaluating methodological quality in systematic reviews. 
  • Basics of measurement.
  • Random and systematic measurement error
  • Reliability, validity.
  • Sensitivity, specificity
  • Measurement and statistical power
  • Measurement dimensionality 
  • Guided critical appraisal of RCT
  • Student presentations

Teaching 1
The Critical Appraisal course grew out of an experimental "guided journal club" project with student-volunteers enrolled in the pre-health professions option

 

Teaching 2
In "Project Truth," students attempt to replicate a published meta-analysis. In "Project Scrutiny," they perform a step-by-step comprehensive critical appraisal of a published Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) of their choice.

 



KIN 620: Advanced Research Methods in Physical Activity

 

The course is designed for Ph.D. students, who have had at least one introductory course on research methods (KIN 501 or equivalent) and at least two statistics course at the graduate level (e.g., STAT 401/587: Statistical Methods for Research Workers, STAT 402: Statistical Design and the Analysis of Experiments, STAT 404: Regression for Social and Behavioral Research, or equivalent courses from other institutions). 
 

Rationale for the course

It has been the observation of several faculty members that graduate students, even at the doctoral level, do not seem comfortable with rather fundamental concepts of research methods, even after having taken several courses in research methods and statistics. As a consequence, they may commit crucial errors in designing studies, collecting and analyzing data, and interpreting results. Some of these errors, once made, cannot be "undone" by statistical adjustments and can thus have a dramatic impact on the quality of the research.

One likely interpretation for this phenomenon is that typical introductory courses in research methods and statistics are mainly concerned with covering a lot of material within a relatively short period of time. They do so via lecture-style instruction, giving students very limited (if any) opportunity to see the concepts being taught applied in practice and to recognize their function and relevance within the research enterprise. In other words, the concepts remain purely "academic" and are not translated into practical, meaningful, tangible tools. 

KIN 620 was designed to address this limitation. For the most part, the course will not attempt to re-introduce or re-teach fundamental concepts in research methods and statistics. Instead, it will provide students an opportunity to see such concepts used in practice through the critical study and analysis of published research articles. In particular, emphasis is placed on the possible consequences of the misapplication of methodological approaches and statistical techniques, the violation of important assumptions, and the intentional or unintentional misinterpretation of results. By sharpening the students' critical thinking skills, the goal is to permanently embed fundamental methodological and statistical considerations in the processes of (a) reading and evaluating research articles and (b) designing one's own meaningful and impactful research.

Topics include: 

  • Economics of research, replicability crisis
  • Paradigms, interdisciplinarity
  • Publication and authorship ethics
  • Research misconduct, protection of human subjects
  • Assessing research bias
  • Consolidated standards of reporting trials (CONSORT)
  • External validity and the RE-AIM framework
  • Statistical power and effect sizes
  • Type I error inflation and control of alpha
  • Assumptions behind statistical tests
  • Systematic reviews and meta-analyses