Since 2016, we have been implementing the “Club Activities Support Project” for junior high and high school students in Ishikawa Prefecture. This project provides support to students, helping them improve their athletic performance and preventing injuries from occurring or recurring during club activities by utilizing the knowledge and skills of our university’s Faculty of Health Sciences. Faculty members and students from our university visit nearby junior high and high schools to observe club activities and evaluate the muscle strength and flexibility of club members. Based on these evaluations, we have developed strength training and stretching programs. We also developed a functional training program based on individual athletic characteristics and provided additional specialized training using the facilities of our university.
- sports physical therapy
- community contribution
- club activities
Knowledge obtained through research at universities is generally returned to society through patents and commercialization. However, in the case of a university such as ours that trains physical therapists, this knowledge can be returned directly to local residents in the form of exercise and training programs conducted as part of health promotion and health care activities. Providing such exercise programs is one way in which universities that train physical therapists should contribute to society. Yet, there is no curriculum that requires universities with physical therapy departments in Japan to contribute to the community in this manner. If the curriculum of university physical therapy departments were to include physical therapy interventions for local residents, it would provide a beneficial opportunity for active learning in which university students could learn to solve actual problems.
2. A place to practice sports physical therapy is required for university students in the physical therapy departments to contribute to the community
Japan has both an aging population and a declining birthrate, which is unparalleled around the world. As a result, the elderly tend to be the large majority of physical therapy patients. However, younger people may also sometimes need physical therapy. According to the results of a questionnaire survey of 35 undergraduate students in our department, the most common reason that they needed physical therapy was an injury sustained during club activities (Figure 1).
In addition, most students answered that the area of physical therapy they were most interested in when they entered university was sports-related physical therapy (Figure 2). When we asked about the level of satisfaction with sports-related lectures at our university, the most common response was that the contents were insufficient, and the students indicated that they were interested in further opportunities to practice in the field of sports (Figure 3).
In addition to contributing to the local community, the “Club Activities Support Project (CASP)” gives undergraduates the opportunity to practice what they have learned about sports in the club activities of local and junior high and high schools, which is of great interest to our students.
3. What is CASP?
3.1 Overview of CASP
CASP is a program that supports junior high and high school students, helping them improve their athletic performance and preventing injuries from occurring or recurring during club activities by utilizing the specialized knowledge and skills of our university’s Faculty of Health Sciences. The main activities are conducted to evaluate body composition and flexibility as well as provide a menu of strength training and stretching exercises based on individual athletic characteristics.
3.2 Specifics of CASP
The following specific procedures are followed. All of the procedures are carried out by students of the university under the guidance of faculty members.
Visit nearby junior high and high school clubs that have agreed to participate in CASP.
University students give lectures on sports injuries and traumas that can occur in each athletic event.
Conduct muscle strength, flexibility, and performance tests for junior high and high school student athletes to determine their individual characteristics (Figure 4).
Provide the necessary stretching, strength training, and functional training based on the identified characteristics (Figure 5).
4. Impressions from high school students who participated in CASP
A total of 32 high school students who had participated in CASP were asked about their impressions of the course through a questionnaire survey.
The responses to the question “Do you think you could actually feel the effects of the strength training and stretching?” were “Agree”, 71.9%; “Somewhat agree”, 28.1%; “Can’t say either way”, 0%; “Somewhat disagree”, 0%, and “Disagree”, 0%.
When asked “Do you think you have become more interested in strength training and stretching?”, the responses were “Agree”, 71.9%; “Somewhat agree”, 25.0%; “Can’t say either way”, 3.1%; “Somewhat disagree”, 0%; and “Disagree”, 0%. These results indicate that the high school students who participated in CASP had a high level of awareness and interest in the training effect.
Next, the responses to the question “Do you think interacting with university students was a positive experience?” were “Agree”, 93.8%; “Somewhat agree”, 6.3%; “Can’t say either way”, 0%; “Somewhat disagree”, 0%; and “Disagree”, 0%. Also, when asked “Do you think you have become more interested in the occupation of a physiotherapist?”, the responses were “Agree”, 34.4%; “Somewhat agree”, 53.1%; “Cannot say either way”, 12.5%; “Somewhat disagree”, 0%; and “Disagree”, 0%. These results confirmed that the participants were satisfied with their interaction with the university students and the experience increased their awareness of physiotherapy as an occupational field.
Finally, the responses to the question “Are you glad you participated in this activity?” were “Agree”, 84.4%; “Somewhat agree”, 15.6%; “Can’t say either way”, 0%;” Somewhat disagree”, 0%; and “Disagree”, 0%. These results indicated that the experience was generally well-received by the participating high school students.
5. Impressions of the university students who conducted CASP activities
We conducted a questionnaire survey of 12 of the students at our university who conducted the CASP activities to ask them about their impressions of the experience. The responses to the question “Did CASP increase your interest in the field of sports?” were “Agree”, 50%; “Somewhat agree”, 50%; “Can’t say either way”, 0%; “Somewhat disagree”, 0%; and “Disagree”, 0%. When asked the question “Do you think that you have advanced your studies in the field of sports by participating in CASP?”, the responses were “Agree”, 33%; “Somewhat agree”, 25%; “Cannot say either way”, 17%; “Somewhat disagree”, 0%; and “Disagree”, 0%. In addition, all 12 surveyed students (100%) answered that they had experienced growth as a result of their involvement with CASP.
As mentioned above, it can be said that CASP was effective as a learning opportunity not only for the participating high school students but also for the university students that conducted the activities.
In Japan, the number of university students is decreasing due to the declining birthrate , and as a result, students are becoming more diverse as universities struggle to meet enrollment targets. This diversification of students poses a major challenge. In particular, the number of students who lack the basic academic skills or motivation to learn is increasing, and this is an extremely serious problem.
This is also the case in medical universities. In recent years, medical universities have introduced educational methods such as active learning [2, 3] and remedial classes in order to deal with this problem. Meanwhile, medical students are expected to have a clear orientation toward their profession from the time they enter university. In other words, if medical students do not have a strong motivation to earn the necessary qualifications, they should not enter the university in the first place. However, in reality, not only do some students lack the motivation to study, but they also lack a clear vision of their profession . In particular, physical therapist training programs at medical universities generally require students to acquire basic academic skills, improve their motivation for learning, and clarify their occupational orientation early on in their studies because they are required to develop more advanced medical skills and stronger communication skills as they prepare for the national examination and clinical practice.
In the CASP program, not only the high school students who participated in CASP activities but also the university students who conducted the activities reported feeling the effects of learning. This is due to the fact that the university students became aware of how the subjects they are studying now are connected to there and they experienced a process similar to that of actual physical therapy, which involves evaluating the client, identifying problem points, and developing a training menu to address those problem points. In other words, it can be inferred that participation in CASP provided students with insight into the work of a physical therapist and helped them understand the importance of the basic classes they are enrolled in.
Since 2016, we have been implementing CASP for junior high and high school students in Ishikawa Prefecture. This project provides support to students, helping them improve their athletic performance and preventing injuries from occurring or recurring during club activities by utilizing the knowledge and skills of our university’s Faculty of Health Sciences.
In Japan, the decline of students’ motivation to study has become an issue, even in medical universities. Active learning programs such as CASP, which also serve as regional examination activities, are an effective educational method because they can be expected to produce educational effects not only in the participating junior and senior high school students but also in the university students who conduct the activities.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
National Institute of Population and Social Security Research. Marriage and Childbirth in Japan Today. The Fifteenth Japanese National Fertility Survey. Tokyo, Japan; 2015. Survey Series No. 35
Goodman BE, Barker MK, Cooke JE. Best practices in active and student-centered learning in physiology classes. Advances in Physiology Education. 2018; 42(3):417-423
Freeman S, Eddy SL, McDonough M, Smith MK, Okoroafor N, Jordt H, et al. Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2014; 111(23):8410-8415