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About Senlin Chen

I got my Ph.D in Kinesiology from University of North Carolina at Greensboro, under the mentorship of Drs. Ang Chen and Catherine Ennis, two world-class pedagogy scholars. I joined the Kinesiology family at ISU since 2011. At ISU, I have published over 30 research papers in scholarly, peer-reviewed journals and delivered over 50 presentations. These research work can be largely categorized by 3 themes:

(1) Curriculum Intervention and Programming in Physical Education: Curriculum builds itself around "knowledge of most worth". My graduate students in the lab and I have recently developed and field-tested a curriculum unit called "Switch PE", to educate children about energy balance in physical education classes. Evaluation evidence supports the efficacy of "Switch PE" in promoting fourth and fifth grade students' energy balance knowledge through active movement tasks. We are currently expanding the "Switch PE" to older student groups in the near future. Energy balance education is crucial to battle the childhood obesity epidemic. Other curriculum development ideas that are still in the stage of conception include incorporating CrossFit into physical education.

(2) Youth Activity and Fitness Promotion: Contemporary youth are accustomed to a technology-infused sedentary lifestyle where their physical activity level has declined to a point that is health concerning. My collaborators, students, and I work diligently to design and tailor evidence-based strategies (such as curricula, programs, motivation, and technology) to promote youth physical activity and physical fitness. Our latest effort is centered on implementing and disseminating the "SWITCH" childhood obesity prevention program to promote healthy living behaviors and curb the obesity crisis. The "SWITCH" is an ecological program that targets and utilizes resources in schools, families, and communities to induce behavior change. The "SWITCH" project is currently funded by the United States Department of Agriculture.

(3). Achievement Motivation in Physical Education: Everybody is motivated for something in life, but pedagogy researchers are often most interested in directing learners' motivation energy to meaningful educational and learning outcomes, such as gaining a better understanding about fitness and the benefits of physical activity. Over the years, I have studied a variety of motivation  factors underpinning student engagement and learning in the physical activity settings. This line of research has been informed by major theories such as the constructivist learning theories, the social ecological model, and mature motivation and behavior change theories (e.g., social cognitive learning theory, self-determination theory, expectancy-value theory, etc.). These studies typically utilized intermediate to advanced statistical analyses such as structural equation modeling.


Present Assistant Professor, Iowa State University Department of Kinesiology

Curriculum Vitae

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Contact Information

255 Forker
534 Wallace Rd
Ames, IA 50011


Peer-Reviewed Articles (5)