Exercise Science Students Apply Knowledge in Real-World Situation


Experience-based learning, similar to applying classroom learning to the real world, is one of the key components of the Albion Advantage. Ten Albion College students interested in exercise science are acquiring this type of experience through a new class called Exercise and Aging, taught by professor Sharon Frandsen, which gives students a chance to teach others what they have learned in their field of study.

Last fall, Frandsen received a phone call from the director of the Albion Academy for Lifelong Learning (AALL), who was interested in starting an exercise class for older adults in the Albion community. The purpose of AALL is to give adults over the age of 55 the opportunity to take classes, continue to learn, and stay active. Classes are offered in many categories ranging from cooking, painting, and the history of Albion. But when the idea of a fitness class surfaced, Frandsen ran with the idea.

The class, which meets three times a week, includes one day of classroom instruction and learning along with two days of hands-on work and exercise. The AALL students were given the option of attending all three days or attending only the classroom portion and applying the techniques and exercises learned to their own workout schedules. Of the 35 older adults enrolled in the class, 20 are in attendance three days a week.

“We tested all 35 of the AALL students on the first day of class,” Frandsen said. “We did simple fitness assessments like a walking test along with muscular and body composition tests. These tests will be performed again at the end of the five-week class, and hopefully we will see an improvement in the tests from all of the adults.”

The classroom portion allows students to present to the adults different exercises and techniques, and the benefits they will see from them. This is meant to give the adults a better understanding of why they will be performing certain exercises and offers them a chance to learn rather than just being told what to do.

As a biology major and chemistry minor, Maria Kaisler, a senior from Tipton, Mich., had no prior experience in teaching exercise, but this class has given her opportunities beyond what she expected.

“I’ve had to learn about weight training and what exercises are most effective for this age group, and then learn the exercises well enough to teach them to the older adults. From this class I have gained knowledge of teaching basic weight training, and also have gained a better idea of what exercise I can do to help keep me fit as I get older,” Kaisler said. “I’ve really enjoyed hearing my clients tell me that they’re able to move better and are seeing that they look more toned and are seeing progress.”

At 59, Mary Petro of Albion is the youngest in her class. A retired elementary school teacher, Petro loved the idea of turning the tables and being able to learn from students.

“When I worked as an elementary school teacher I was able to work with many student teachers from the College,” she said. “It’s really neat to listen to their presentations and learn from them. The knowledge these students have access to is more current than the knowledge that I have, and I am taking full advantage of this opportunity.”

“We talk about the Albion Advantage, and this is what it is all about. This is experiential learning,” said Frandsen. “You can learn in the classroom, but it’s not the same kind of learning that is going to happen in real-life situations. The more opportunities these students have working with a diverse set of populations, the better off they are going to be in the long run.”