This month, Dr. Catherine Ennis, professor of curriculum theory and development in the UNCG’s Department of Kinesiology, will be honored with the Luther Halsey Gulick Medal, which is the highest award given by SHAPE America – Society of Health and Physical Educators. A few days prior at the SHAPE America conference, she will give the Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport lecture titled, “Educating Students for a Lifetime of Physical Activity: Enhancing Mindfulness, Motivation and Meaning.”
Ennis’ research focuses on physical education in urban school settings, and seeks to determine what curriculum is most effective in enhancing student learning. She has been principal investigator for National Institutes of Health grants totaling more than $3 million that funded the design and assessment of the elementary school program “Science, PE, & Me!” and the middle school program “Science of Healthful Living.”
Of her experience studying physical education Ennis says, “I have always enjoyed the opportunity to create and apply knowledge to enhance school and student-related learning.”
Throughout her career she’s seen changes in physical education, and says the biggest one has been the shift from curriculum that trains students to play sports, to that which is focused on a variety of physical activities. This curriculum trend results in a better experience for students who are not already skilled in sports.
“It is difficult to have fun in sports and games and to want to participate at all if you are not already skillful,” she says.
Ennis has co-authored or edited three books, “The Curriculum Process in Physical Education,” “Student Learning in Physical Education: Applying Research to Enhance Instruction,” and “The Routledge Handbook of Physical Education Pedagogies.” She has been the pedagogy section editor for Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport and is an editorial board member for Contemporary Educational Psychology. She is also a past-president of the National Academy of Kinesiology. She has published over 80 research articles in refereed education and physical education journals and delivered over 175 presentations to international, national and regional audiences.
She’s been a member of SHAPE for 40 years and also served as president of the SHAPE Research Consortium in 2010. She was also the SHAPE/AAHPERD Alliance Scholar, presenting the Scholar Lecture, “On Their Own: Preparing Students for a Lifetime.”
In 2008, Ennis received the Distinguished Alumni Award (M.S. ‘77) and in 2013, the Distinguished Senior Researcher Award from the School of Health and Human Sciences at UNCG. She has received many other awards for her research and service to public schools, and was even inducted into the Lynchburg College Sports Hall of Fame (field hockey and lacrosse) in 1992.