The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor.
University of Michigan.
Professional Preparation of Teachers

At the March, 1920, meeting of the Board of Regents, President Burton presented a communication from the Michigan State Department of Public Instruction with respect to the preparation of teachers in the field of physical education. A year later, the Board took the following action establishing a Department of Physical Education:

There is hereby created and established a University Department of Physical Education.

This Department shall be put in charge of some person to be chosen by the Board of Regents who shall have the rank, privileges, and duties of a full professor and hold the title of Director of Physical Education …

The Director … shall be in primary charge of all athletic fields for men and women, of both gymnasiums, … of all sports, indoor, outdoor, intercollegiate, and intramural. He shall … by virtue of his position … be a member of, and Chairman of the present Board in Control of Outdoor Athletics, … All trainers, coaches, and assistant coaches … shall be appointed by the Board in Control of Outdoor Athletics on the recommendation of the Director of Physical Education.

(R.P., 1920-23, pp. 120-21.)

President Burton outlined a plan, which the Regents approved, for the projected department, and with Regent Murfin he was empowered to work out detailed arrangements, including the making of appointments. The resolution creating the Department of Physical Education was then rescinded because the matter was referred to a committee which recommended instead the establishment of two departments:

  • (1) We recommend [that] there be established two departments: (a) A University Department of Hygiene and Public Health including a Department of Physical Education. (b) A Department of Intercollegiate Athletics.
  • (2) The man chosen to be in charge of the first-named department shall be given the title of Director of University Hygiene and Public Health and shall have professional rank. He shall be Professor of Hygiene and Public Health in the Medical School, shall have supervision of the University Health Service, of all gymnasiums, and of intramural activities…
  • (3) Intercollegiate Athletics shall be placed in charge of a man to have the title of Director of Intercollegiate Athletics. He shall be chosen by the Board of Regents…
  • (4) Assistants connected with the School of Education shall be nominated to the Board of Regents, through the Dean of the School of Education and President of the University.

(R.P., 1920-23, pp. 203-4.)

The appointment of Fielding H. Yost as Director of Intercollegiate Athletics was announced in June, 1921, and that of Dr. John Sundwall as Director of the Department of Hygiene and Public Health, including Physical Education, in September of the same year.

The four-year curriculum. — The new four-year curriculum inaugurated in the fall of 1921 was aimed to meet the demands for competent young men and women to supervise the physical health of children in the public schools, to provide recreation for growing youth, and to instruct prospective coaches in scientific methods of training school teams. It Page  1991also endeavored to provide training in physical education for high-school teachers and principals and school superintendents. The course was so constructed as to combine general education with specialized training in two lines: (1) that which included gymnastics, play, and games for persons of all ages and the program of recreation and health for young people; and (2) that of athletic training which would fit the prospective candidate to train scientifically the school teams in various branches of competitive sports, to give instruction in skilled methods of play, and to build up a competitive but friendly rivalry with other schools. Instruction was provided by the School of Education, the Department of Hygiene and Public Health, and the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. Provision was made for directed teaching to be given during the junior and senior years, and for the student to give instruction in gymnasium and intramural activities.

A plan presented by Dean J. R. Effinger of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, recommending that courses for athletic coaches be given in the summer session, was inaugurated in 1922 under the sponsorship of the School of Education. In the following year credit was given for the course.

In 1923-24 Fielding H. Yost and George Little were appointed Professor and Associate Professor, respectively, of the Theory and Practice of Athletic Coaching. Courses covering the school program in physical education, graded play and games, organization and administration, first aid, and practical hygiene were offered. A bulletin on Physical Education, Athletics, and School Health was published in 1922, stating the objective of the course to be the preparation of the student to enable him to assume the duties of a director of physical education and school health. The objectives were the same for men and women, with the exception of coaching. The student was trained to conduct physical examinations and gymnastic activities, to teach health education, to advise concerning the location and planning of the gymnasium, playground, athletic field, and equipment, to advise concerning heating, lighting, ventilation, and sanitation of school buildings, to direct playground activities, to provide health education and recreational training for teachers, to coach or supervise coaching of football, baseball, track, and swimming, and to assume responsibilities for the business management of various teams.

Subjects comprising the curriculum were organized into four groups, the first of which included rhetoric, chemistry, sociology, public speaking, educational psychology, educational administration, vocational guidance, and secondary education. The second group consisted of subjects selected to acquaint the student with the normal processes of the body, such as zoology, anatomy, general physiology, applied physiology, with particular reference to nutrition, metabolism, growth, neuromuscular physiology, exercise, fatigue, and rest. In the third group were courses designed to familiarize the student with the fundamentals of mental hygiene, bacteriology, introductory hygiene, physical reconstruction, school health problems, communicable disease control, first aid, and sex hygiene. Group four included subjects designed to prepare the student to organize and supervise the various interests and activities in physical education and athletics. Kinesiology, community play, history and principles of physical education, and the theory of administration of physical education were included.

After the reorganization of departments in 1923-24, the professional program in Physical Education, Athletics, Page  1992and School Health was known as Department "F" of the School of Education. Actions were taken to meet the need for trained personnel in these fields. In the University Catalogue for 1924 the following statement by Dr. Sundwall appeared: "In order to meet the need for well-trained instructors and supervisors, the universities and colleges are instituting courses in physical education. The physical instructor should have academic and professional training equal in every respect to that of general educators… The physical educator by virtue of his training, his ideals, and importance of his work becomes an integral part of the faculty."

The change in the requirements of the School of Education, as made by the Board in 1925, provided that, beginning in October, 1927, the student should have junior standing and 25 per cent more honor points than hours, except for those students who entered the four-year curriculum in physical education. At the same meeting requirements for graduation were changed to 124 semester hours and 25 per cent more honor points than hours of credit. Since that time the student pursuing the four-year curriculum in physical education has had to meet the same requirements for graduation as have other students in the School of Education. The entrance requirement for the four-year curriculum differed from that of other departments in the School of Education because students majoring in physical education were admitted in the freshman year, yet the number of academic hours and honor points required for graduation was the same.

The following faculty members have served as chairman of the departmental program: Dean Allen S. Whitney (1922-27), Dr. John Sundwall (1927-30), Dean James B. Edmonson (1930-36), Professor Laurie Campbell (1945-48), Dr. Margaret Bell (1942-45; 1951-54), and Professor Elmer D. Mitchell (1936-42; 1948-51; 1954-57).

Graduate curriculum. — The graduate curriculum for teachers was introduced in 1931 with three sequences available: administration, supervision, and teaching. Dr. Jackson Sharman, who had previously been state director of physical education in Alabama and had just received his Ph.D. degree from Columbia University, was appointed to take charge of the new graduate work. He remained until 1938, when he accepted the position of head of the Physical Education Department at the University of Alabama. From 1938 the graduate teaching, including the direction of theses, was shared by qualified members of the staff working under the direction of the elected chairman of Department "F."

A sequence in school health education was inaugurated in 1932 in co-operation with the Division of Hygiene and Public Health, and in 1936-37 a fifth sequence leading to the master of arts degree in education was approved. The requirements for this degree included twenty-four semester hours of work and a thesis. In 1937-38 the enrollment of undergraduates totaled 126, of which 71 were men. The number of graduate students had more than doubled since 1936-37, with 82 enrolled. A program leading to the Ph.D. or Ed.D. degree was established in 1938 (see Part VI: The School of Education).

By 1939, 220 men and 165 women had received the undergraduate degree. Undergraduate minors in school health and in physical education were introduced in 1937. An increasing graduate enrollment was apparent over the five-year period from 1936-37 to 1940-41. From a total of 33 men and women it rose to 174. By August, 1949, a study showed that 291 men and women had received master's degrees in education, with specialization Page  1993in health, physical education, and recreation. Since then, with the postwar G.I. influx and the increased college enrollment, the number has greatly increased, and, each year, in addition, some twenty to thirty doctoral applicants and candidates are working on their requirements.

After World War II there was an unprecedented enrollment in the professional curriculum, particularly on the graduate level. There was a dearth of teachers for the many positions that were open, and many of the service men who had worked in physical training and recreation programs of the U. S. Army, Navy, and Air Force were eager to resume their educational preparation and were enabled to do so financially by the provisions of the G.I. bill. In particular, the demand for graduate work increased heavily, and new sequences of study were added to those already established to take care of the new needs in recreation (community, industrial, agency, and hospital), in camping (with new emphasis on school camping and outdoor education), and on safety education (with emphasis on life saving, liability, and driver education). Enactments by the state legislature enhanced the interest in these new areas of instruction. A noticeable trend in education, which greatly affected physical education, was the demand for the master's degree. Many large cities and some states insisted on the master's degree as a requisite for teaching in high schools.

With this development the Department of Physical Education was called upon to introduce Saturday classes and Extension classes for teachers in service. This need has been met correspondingly as it has developed, and the trend has now developed similarly in the direction of the doctoral degree. The great increase in the size of college and university staffs, because of the current expansion of student enrollment, partly accounts for this growth, but there are other factors as well. The new community college movement is one — it creates a demand for teachers with higher degrees. Also, a number of state departments of education and large city departments have created supervisory and co-ordinating positions which call for more than the usual amount of academic preparation.

Research. — With the appointment of Paul Hunsicker in 1949-50, it was possible for the department to emphasize experimental research. Before this time graduate research had been mainly of a philosophical, historical, observational, and survey nature. Professor Hunsicker, with a background obtained in the Physical Fitness Laboratory at the University of Illinois, served as a graduate adviser in the experimental area. This supplemented earlier research procedures which had been under the direction of Professor Mitchell. Some helpful grants from the Graduate Research Committee, together with special appropriations from the University, made it possible for special research equipment to be obtained.

The problem of housing was one of the first tasks that confronted the building up of an impressive research laboratory; but, with the acquisition in 1955 of the former Athletic Administration Building on Ferry Field, the matter of space was satisfactorily solved. Dr. Hunsicker now has assistants and a well-equipped laboratory in which departmental and graduate research is conducted. These studies are largely in the areas of physical fitness, age growth, gerontology, and motor-skill learning. Some of them are carried on co-operatively with other graduate departments of the University; others with research departments of industries, the armed services, and public and private agencies.

In his recent annual reports Professor Page  1994Mitchell has continued to mention the need for academic titles for staff members, adequate office space, an increase in the budgetary item for teaching fellows, and a budget for research studies by staff members.

By 1955, with the larger enrollment of doctoral students, research output had increased. Co-operative research with other graduate departments of the University was still increasing, and outside public and private agencies were turning to the University for guidance in the areas of physical education and recreation.

Although the general trend in other universities has been toward separate undergraduate curricula in physical education, health education, and recreation, the policy of the department at the University of Michigan, since its inception, has been as yet to offer a generalized four-year curriculum with subsequent specialization at the graduate level. Nine sequences of related course work leading to the degree of master of arts or of master of science are available. The doctoral program leads either to the degree of doctor of philosophy or doctor of education.