Post-Grant Reports


Physical Activity in Online Learners and Instructors

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Exercise Science | Online and Distance Education


Through this project, we aimed to evaluate the physical activity levels of online learners and instructors. Additionally, we aimed to identify applications and methodology to improve physical activity in this population. During the summer we completed a literature review which confirmed the lack of data regarding physical activity levels in primarily online learners and educators. We also found that data is lacking on physical activity levels in higher education learners and educators in general (online, face-to-face or hybrid). Additionally, we identified the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) as a reliable and valid tool for evaluating physical activity. In collaboration with investigators at Oregon State University, Eastern Washington University, Simmons College and Lasell College, an online survey was developed which identified the participant as an online, hybrid or on-campus learner or educator, collected basic demographic data and delivered the IPAQ as recommended in the instructions for use. The study was approved by the Institutional Review Board at Linfield College before the survey was implemented. The survey was sent out during October to best reach both semester and quarter institutions.

We have completed a preliminary analysis of the results. A total of 455 people responded to the survey. Initial evaluation indicated that most of those meeting the inclusion criteria to take the complete survey (N=436, 96%) self-identified as learners (365, 87%). Fewer educators (56, 13%) responded to the survey. More than half of the learners reported all course work was completed face-to-face, 13% entirely online and 8% hybrid. Educators also reported more than half of their courses were taught face-to-face, 33% entirely online and 8% using a hybrid format. Educators reported slightly less amount of time using technology compared to learners (327.9 & 356.7 min/day, respectively). Of this time educators reported dedicating more of their technology time to education than the students (54% & 49%, respectively). We are currently analyzing the physical activity results. The data requires conversion to a standardized unit, the Metabolic Equivalent (mets) before physical activity levels can be established. The final data will be presented at the student symposium in May. An online physical activity class is in the process of being developed and will be submitted to the curriculum committee by the February deadline. We are designing deliverables for the online course (videos, infographics, etc.) which are due to be completed during the spring semester. The students involved in this study have gained valuable research experience in health and human performance related to online physical activity interventions to reduce health risks.


This research was conducted as part of a Linfield College Student-Faculty Collaborative Research Grant in 2016, funded by the Office of Academic Affairs.

The student collaborator was Riley Graham.

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