Kinesiology graduate receives dissertation award from NASPE

January 22, 2012

Michigan State College of Education graduate Sheila Kelly with her father and two brothers on a hiking trip last summer.

The National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) has presented Michigan State University kinesiology graduate Sheila Kelly with a 2012 Sport and Exercise Psychology Dissertation Award. Kelly won the award for her doctoral dissertation titled: “The Relationship Among Motor Skill Development, Aerobic Capacity, Body Composition and Perceived Competence of Fourth Grade School Children.” The award is awarded annually on a national level to the applicant whose doctoral dissertation from the previous year is seen to have the greatest potential for contribution to the knowledge of sport psychology.

Shortly after receiving her doctorate from MSU in 2010, Kelly accepted a position at Humboldt State University in California, where she currently lectures in the Department of Kinesiology and Recreation Administration. Kelly says she’s “…always been interested in why some people are sedentary and others aren’t. The mental side of physical activity is huge.”

For her dissertation, Kelly asked fourth grade children a series of questions and took measurements of their BMI (Body Mass Index), aerobic capacity and motor skills. Kelly found that there was an established connection between students’ perceived academic achievement and physical fitness. Her findings showed that children with higher perceptions of academic competence generally had lower BMIs.

Kelly says that she believes physical education classes “should be just as important as Math or English,” and “Parents, teachers and coaches should encourage children to strive for a healthy BMI.”

Kelly will be presenting her research and receiving her award at the March 13-15 NAPSE portion of the AAHPERD National Convention and Exposition in Boston, Mass.

Read the full release.