Students acquire new technology for physical education

April 28, 2014

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Health and human performance students and Dr. Colleen McCabe present their research at PACCE Poster Day.

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — The health and human performance students at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville are currently working on a Pioneer Academic Center for Community Engagement project to implement new technology into physical education classes. They are working with Platteville High School to test this new technology to discover if this method could be implemented into grade schools, middle schools and high schools across the country.

“The health and human performance department is focused on the education and prevention of childhood and adult obesity,” said Dr. Colleen McCabe, coordinator of the health and human performance department.

Instead of having all the students complete the same workout, this technology would tell the students when they reach a moderate to vigorous activity level. “Each student’s body responds to exercise differently,” said McCabe. “We don’t care if they can run a mile in under 10 minutes, we care if they know how to exercise and how to recognize what their body needs to maintain a healthy lifestyle.”

The heart rate monitors and pedometers would be worn during the physical education class and then, after completion of their exercises, the data would be uploaded onto the teacher’s computer. From there, the computer will graph the student’s performance and determine the levels of activity performed during the class.

If the student’s data shows that he or she did not perform in a moderate to vigorous level of activity, the teacher can then increase their activity level during class. “This is all about teaching the students how to maintain a healthy amount of physical activity that is right for their body, in essence truly understanding their individual physiological response to exercise,” said McCabe. “It all depends on the amount of work the students put in during class time.”

The research will compare and contrast the use of heart rate monitors and pedometers to determine which device is more accurate and functional. “Depending on the activity, both could be very useful during different classes, and with individuals with different levels of fitness” said McCabe.

The middle and secondary methods class will be conducting a longitudinal study throughout the next two academic years to support their findings. To continue this project, the health and human performance department may hire summer and fall interns to continue the work with the Platteville High School students.  

Contact: Colleen McCabe, Health and Human Performance, (608) 342-1796,

Written by: Megan Schmidt, UW-Platteville University Information and Communications, (608) 342-1194,

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