Ryan A. Hayes1, Lori A. Sherlock1, Miriam P. Leary1. The Role of Experiential Learning on Self-Efficacy in Undergraduate Exercise Physiology Students: a Pilot Study. 1Division of Exercise Physiology, Department of Human Performance and Applied Exercise Science, School of Medicine, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, USA.
Introduction: Self-efficacy is the confidence in one’s own ability to complete specific tasks. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of an experiential learning pedagogical intervention on the self-efficacy of pre-health professional undergraduate exercise physiology students. Methods: Six undergraduate exercise physiology students participated in an experiential learning opportunity conducting lactate threshold testing on collegiate rowers. The students conducted a pre-test knowledge assessment of lactate production and threshold testing followed by a traditional class lecture, lactate threshold testing practice, and formal lactate threshold testing of the female varsity rowing team. Post assessments included retaking the knowledge assessment of lactate production and threshold testing, a 15-question self-efficacy survey, and participated in a moderated focus group. Results: The average percent correct on the Lactate Quiz increased 11% from pre to post assessment, but this improvement was not significant (p>0.05). Self-efficacy survey results from the subjects indicated improvements in self-efficacy. The most common themes reported in focus groups were individual growth through field exposure, improvements in communication, and increased understanding of the material. Overall, students reported a high satisfaction with the modality of education and indicated they would encourage peers to participate in similar experiential learning opportunities because it was a novel method to solidify course material. Conclusion: This discipline-specific, mixed-methods pilot research determined the effectiveness of incorporating experiential-based curriculum to improve self-efficacy and content proficiency of pre-health professional undergraduate students.