Dr. Elizabeth Christopher and the University of the Cumberlands Instructional Design Team recently won a Blackboard and Anthology Exemplary Course Program Award for demonstrating excellence in the "Strategies and Practice for Fitness Profession" course. The honor was awarded based on course design, interaction and collaboration, assessment, and learner support. The full listing of award winners can be found at go.blackboard.com/exemplary-course-program.

Strategies and Practice for Fitness Profession – or ESS 490, as Cumberlands students know it – is a course within Cumberlands’ health, exercise, and sport science (HESS) department. The course provides a comprehensive overview of exercise training principles, strategies, and techniques needed in proper health and fitness training. Orignally, Dr. Michael Welikonich, an associate professor in the HESS department at Cumberlands, established it as a capstone course to prepare graduating HESS seniors for greater success. Dr. Christopher, along with the help of Dr. Welikonich, Dr. Sarah Adkins, Dr. Anita Bowman, and Ms. Melinda Walters, extended the course to an online format.

"It is an honor to receive this award and to have played a small part in improving the learning environment of our HESS students,” Dr. Christopher said. “While my name is on this award, this course design would have never happened without the joint efforts of our department team and UC Instructional Design. The course ESS 490 is the epitome of excellence and teamwork that the HESS department strives to achieve." 

One of the most significant pieces of the course is preparing graduating students for the American College of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer national certification exam. Dr. Christopher believes the certification is beneficial because it is an applicable real-world certification that can open up many job opportunities for graduates in the field of exercise.

She also believes better course engagement leads to a better-prepared graduate. Naturally, she made every effort to offer a course that provides abundant opportunities to interact and collaborate and to make her students feel supported in their academic endeavors. Dr. Christopher provides weekly video lectures to guide students through the content and the assignments, so they are more empowered to explore the information in a self-paced format. She also encourages students to engage with their peers through discussion boards utilized to solve problems, discuss findings, and give suggestions for how to best solve the issue at hand. 

Cumberlands’ health, exercise, and sport science department offers both in-seat and online courses, and department graduates regularly achieve successful careers in coaching, physical education, and public health, among other fields. To learn more about available majors within the department, visit www.ucumberlands.edu/academics.

About the Exemplary Course Program

For nearly two decades, the Exemplary Course Program has honored instructors and course designers whose courses demonstrate best practices. To be considered for the honor, applicants must be a user of the Blackboard Learn by Anthology learning management system. Submitted courses are evaluated by other course developers, instructional designers, teachers, and professors using the Exemplary Course Program Rubric.