What’s it really like to study health, sport, and physical education at UQ?
Published 8 Mar, 2022 · 5-minute read
Isabelle Taylor shares her experiences of studying the Bachelor of Health, Sport and Physical Education (Honours) at The University of Queensland.
What’s the most unexpected thing you’ve learnt while studying health, sport, and physical education at UQ?
I never expected there would be so many different teaching styles and techniques. As a high school student, I had the preconception that there was only a series of fixed teaching or learning styles which were kinaesthetic, reading and writing, auditory and visual.
However, while studying teaching pedagogy at UQ, I learnt that there is so much more involved – particularly when developing your own teaching style, as you need to consider what is also suitable for your students. It is not just a pick and flick list in which you must choose how you will teach; it is an individualised art form.
What’s it really like to study health, sport, and physical education?
I knew early on that I wanted to be a HPE teacher, but engaging with the program’s wide range of subject material blended with practical experience – both in university and school environments – has made it an incredibly diverse experience. This program has very clear objectives and aims to produce students that are ‘work ready’ so that we can take our places in schools’ sports fields and classrooms upon graduation.
The small and dedicated cohort of like-minded students, and the supportive team spirit we all share, also allows us to really get to know each other, share experiences and foster a true sense of connectiveness.
"As a health, sport, and physical education student, you are never alone or left wondering where the course will take you."
Even during her 2-week placement at Kingaroy State High School, Isabelle had company – her fellow student and friend, Meg Muir
What drew you to study health, sport, and physical education?
When selecting subjects in high school, I noticed I had actively started to set up a pathway into this program. I have always had an interest in teaching HPE and science, so the program offering subjects targeted towards these was very attractive.
However, it became apparent that this was the program for me when I realised there were ample opportunities for practical, hands-on experience. For example, the 100 days of clinical teaching (including a full school term in the fourth year of the program) was a major drawcard. I really wanted to immerse myself in the industry and apply my learnings.
What are the most valuable skills you’ve learnt while studying health, sport, and physical education?
The most valuable skills I have learnt is having the confidence to ‘back yourself’ in challenging or new situations when working with others. While studying and completing practical experiences, I have learnt that even in a group of like-minded and similarly skilled people, every individual has their own strengths.
"It is important to foster an environment where each team member has the opportunity and support to contribute to the best of their ability."
What does a day in the life of a health, sport, and physical education student look like?
The variety of subjects the health, sports, and physical education program covers makes it a very interesting and dynamic program, as every year looks completely different. I recall first year’s lectures and tutorials were primarily science based, with later years focusing more on education. These consisted of more practical, hands-on classes where you learn about and adopt different teaching styles.
The latter parts of the program allow you to experience what HPE teachers do ‘in the real world’, with lots of time spent on school placements in the energetic environment that the classroom offers. I have found that these immersive opportunities can be incredibly rewarding as you can make real-time impact on school students and the school culture.
What have you learnt about yourself since you started your studies at UQ?
I have learnt that the reward of pushing outside of my comfort zone far outweighs my fear of failure. The experiences I have had throughout the program were new and often challenging. However, I can say with confidence that I have learnt that I can succeed, even when the path to success isn’t obvious or looks treacherous. Being thrust into positions of leadership in a school environment has taught me the importance of quick thinking and innovation. If you have those, then there is no situation that you can’t take on and do well.
How have your teachers had a positive impact on your studies?
The best aspect of being a health, sport and physical education student has been the support and guidance of the course academics. They provided access to individualised teacher engagement and support, which allowed me to develop my own teaching skills and classroom confidence that I would not have been able to gain alone. They are fantastic mentors and are always available for counsel and encouragement.
Where do you want to go or what do you want to do in your HSPE career?
I would love to obtain a position as a school’s Head of Department for health and physical education, while maintaining the capacity to teach in a classroom and on the oval.
The HPE teacher I had while in school was a great inspiration to me and I can’t think of a more rewarding career than one that can positively impact young lives. I enjoy being part of a community, so the prospect of working in rural or regional Australia, and potentially in special needs education, are also of interest.
Isabelle completed another placement at Border Rivers Christian College in Goondiwindi
What’s the most interesting thing you've learnt that hasn't been part of your coursework?
By far the most significant thing I have learnt while on school placement is how influential teachers can be on the lives of their students. You hear about it a lot, but nothing could have prepared me for how much my own words and actions could really impact their lives until I received their positive feedback.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to study HSPE at UQ?
My best piece of advice for health, sport, and physical education students is to seek out experiences and seize them. From engaging in group learning activities with your own classmates, to teaching your own class of 6-year-olds, the program has so many unique and enjoyable opportunities. So, throw yourself into each task where you can and reap the benefits.