‘Bring it to the next level’

NDSU students get hands-on experiences that give them practical teaching methods they can take into their future classrooms.

Second-year physical and health education students recently participated in various activities at the Character Challenge Course in Park Rapids, Minnesota, as part of their curriculum and assessment course. Character Challenge is an adventure park with team-building activities, ropes courses and trust-building exercises.

Jenny Linker, associate professor and program coordinator for physical and health education at NDSU, said taking students to the adventure park allowed them to experience the adventure education instructional model which they can use in their future K-12 classrooms.

“Since they were already learning about this cool instructional strategy and how to build community with their K-12 students, I thought, let’s bring this up to the next level and actually go and do it at a ropes course,” said Linker.

Dominic Ritter, a sophomore from Sauk Centre, Minnesota, said the experience allowed him to engage in his learning in a way the classroom can’t facilitate.

“When you’re doing stuff like this, you’re into it,” Ritter said. “You want to learn. You want to get better. You want to take it all in. It was fun, too. Making school fun helps. More kids are going to want to do it if it’s fun.”

The challenge course helps university students practice adventure education concepts they can try in their own classrooms. It’s also a great opportunity for these students to build trust with their peers.

“It’s a two-fold purpose: they're learning about adventure education instructional methodologies, but they’re also having that opportunity to build community within our major which helps with retention,” Linker said.

Students in physical and health education advance through the courses as a cohort. This gives them the opportunity to build connections with their peers as they progress through the program.

“I think it’s awesome, especially how close we are already. We’re just going to get closer,” Ritter said. “None of my roommates are in the same classes that I have, so it’s nice that I have people that I know that I can ask questions.”

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