Teaching Innovations to Promote Active Learning

Exercise Science Using Map My Run

Professor Wendy BjerkeCourse: Exercise Physiology
Professor: Wendy Bjerke, Ph.D., Associate Clinical Professor
Learning Objectives:

  • Course Level: Promote higher order thinking when applying the understanding of exercise physiology concepts
  • Program Level: Empower students to take on the role of an engaged citizen in the context of exercise physiology studies
  • Institutional Level: Expose students to pathways for promoting social justice and equality.

Digital Tools: Map My Run and Google Maps

>>Download Presentation.


My Teaching Objective

The “built environment” includes consideration of how our communities are structured relative to buildings, roads, sidewalks, and other variables. The objective of this project is to identify a frequently used but problematic walking trail, assess the trail according to research based techniques, and consider how modifying the trail would impact the health of the community by promoting exercise.

The presentation to your right was provided to a local health related committee.

‌Description of Teaching Practice Integrating the Digital Tool

Students identify a “goat trail” which is a walking path created by pedestrians who ‌frequently use this route. This path is not paved, nor has it been designated as a pedestrian walkway or sidewalk. The trail is assessed specifically by students via a walkability audit provided by the CDC. Additionally students measure the distance, take photographs related to its usage, and assess subjective variables such as safety, aesthetic qualities, and accessibility for special populations. Google Maps and/or MapMyRun allow students to include “bird’s eye views” of the location and accurately measure the distance.

  • ‌The site Map My Run allows the user to find local walking/ running routes across most of the major cities in the world.
  • Google Maps is a web mapping service application and technology
    provided by Google, powering 
    ‌many map-based services.
  • The walkability audit assesses sidewalks and trails objectively (via scores) and subjectively (via descriptions). Variables such as safety, access, and aesthetics are assessed in the survey.
>>Download Presentation.


Sample Student Work and Learning Outcomes

Students present their work in a Power Point Presentation which includes the results from the walkability audit and related facts from the digital mapping resources. Peer reviewed sources about the impact of built environment related variables on health and fitness are also incorporated into the presentation. The presentation is posted online and a selection of presentations has been presented to local communities within a service learning context.

Goat Trail assessments continue within the context of the course but also in faculty work associated with a local health department.

Students submitted individual presentations but several students and I also presented to a state health promotion organization (Get Healthy CT).

The presentation to your right is an example of a student assessment of a walking trail.


Application to Other Disciplines

This particular topic could also be addressed in Nursing, Health Sciences, Public Health, or Education Courses given the emphasis of physical activity as a contributing factor to health and education related variables.