Students Get Fit and Fed Up with New Program

As a liberal arts college, Gustavus provides the best in terms of academic programs for its students. At Gustavus all students are able to expand their learning in multiple subject areas, and professors in these areas are eager to improve the programs by trying out new curriculums.

Over the past couple of years, the Department of Health and Exercise Science has been working on finding a new FIT curriculum to replace a current Moodle-based course. FIT courses at Gustavus are designed to provide students with the opportunity to improve fitness and knowledge on topics such as health promotion, disease prevention, and general wellbeing.

The Gustavus Health & Exercise Sciences Department decided to try out a new FIT curriculum called BearFace.

According to Professor of Health & Exercise Sciences Aaron Banks, “BearFace is an academic publishing company that specializes in web-based learning and assessment systems for wellness education programs, such as the Gustavus FIT program.”

Unfortunately, there were some problems reported with the new curriculum, which led to its suspension this fall.

“There were two primary reasons why we suspended the use of BearFace for Fall 2015,” Banks said. “The first, and most important reason, was student feedback. Several students had commented negatively on the use of some surveys that were employed at the outset of the program.”

A student, who asked to remain anonymous, described the problems they saw with using BearFace.

“One of the biggest things for me was when we walked in the first day of class and the instructor casually said you have to pay $40. There was no warning, it wasn’t said when we signed up for the class and wasn’t listed on the Bookmark where all the other textbooks are. It was late in the first day of class and they said ‘by the way you have to sign up and pay $40 or else you will fail this class,’” the anonymous student said.

This student also commented on the problems they experienced with the BearFace surveys and eText.

“When I finally went in and took the quizzes they had absolutely nothing to do with the class or the assigned reading. It was basically stuff about very specific details that no one would know but you have to get 100% to move on. I wasted who knows how many hours of my life. The questions were completely irrelevant,” the anonymous student said.

The faculty in the Health and Exercise Sciences department were notified of the student feedback on the curriculum.

“We value the beliefs of our students and appreciated their willingness to share concerns they had regarding the surveys, as these concerns had not been brought to our attention in previous semesters of pilot testing,” Banks said.

The other reason BearFace was suspended was due to technical problems with the eText reported by students.

“The company has to prove themselves more before I give them another chance,” the anonymous student said.

The students who used the BearFace eText last year will be reimbursed the $40 used to purchase the eText.

Although there were problems with BearFace, the Health and Exercise Sciences department plans to pilot the BearFace curriculum again, starting during the 2016-2017 year. The BearFace company has been looking into the problems experience with the eText.

“Should concerns remain through further pilot testing, we most likely will adopt a hard copy text that would be sold in the BookMark beginning Fall 2016,” Banks said.

Associate Professor in Health and Exercise Science Department Bonnie Reimann commented on the experiences with the BearFace curriculum.

“We learned from this experience and feel like we are in a better position to prepare students for any upcoming improvements and changes to our curriculum,” Reimann said.

The Health and Exercise Science Department is ready to move forward and seems very positive when looking at the future of FIT courses.