Physical education and sport specialist training strategy for Russian South

PhD, Associate Professor T.A. Stepanova1
PhD, Associate Professor N.V. Chertov1
Associate Professor O.V. Chertov1
PhD, Associate Professor V.L. Fomin1
1Southern Federal University, Rostov-on-Don

Keywords: specialist training strategy, physical education and sports, training models and tools, consistent education system, professional retraining and excellence system, Rostov Oblast.

Background. Specialist training strategies are in special priority in every professional service sector as a prime prerequisite for the sector service efficiency and progress. The national physical education and sport sector is no exclusion as the physical education and sport specialist training quality standards and requirements are growing with time. Thus, the rapidly growing fitness industry, commercial sport businesses, clubs and multiple government-sponsored sports/ recreation infrastructure development projects boost the national demand for the physical education and sport service specialists. The national educational service market is highly sensitive to this demand and takes efforts to meet it. It should be noted in this context that the education service is limited by the physical education and sport specialist training service quality rather than the inflow of students; actually, there is a gap between the market demand for the top-professional (and persistently improved) human resource for the physical education and sport sector and the presently short capacity of the national physical education and sport specialist training system. This shortage is increasingly acknowledged by the sector community and urgent solutions are expected. Thus, the National Physical Education and Sport Sector Development Strategy for the period up to 2020 gives a high priority to the human resource training for the physical education and sport sector – including coaches, instructors, physical education teachers and physical education and sport service specialists up to the top managers and ministers [1] – to facilitate the key goals of the Strategy being attained on a systemic basis.

Objective of the study was to analyze progress of the physical education and sport specialist training strategy for the South of Russia, with the Rostov Oblast taken for a case study.

Methods and structure of the studyю We made, for the purposes of the study, analyses of the relevant theoretical and practical literature, regulatory documents, archive materials and expert opinions.

Results and discussion. The national physical education and sport sector has reported significant positive changes for the last few years including progresses of the projects to rehabilitate and expand the network of public sports schools and centers providing services of different levels. It should be mentioned that the public physical education and sport sector development policies have facilitated progress of the commercial sports and health service markets. And the national statistics show (especially for the large cities and urban agglomerations) that there may be an outflow of the habitually sporting underage and adult population from the public physical education and sport organizations (operating on the orders from the relevant public agencies) to the commercial physical education and sport service sector. It is traditional for the federal, regional and municipal physical education and sport sector organizations to report progresses of their services using the statistics of habitually sporting population; albeit the public physical education and sport sector still tends to underestimate and underuse the great potential of the private commercial physical education and sport service sector due to the regretful short-sightedness of many decision-makers in the public physical education and sport sector. The human resource accumulated by the public sports schools and centers is being reported by the per-capita reporting system based on the personal records, although the reports are fraught with inconsistencies due to the student population overestimation trends. To some degree, however, the gap between the actual and reported numbers may be bridged by the underestimation in the private commercial sports business system with its clubs and health groups [2].

It is not unusual that the local executive authorities fail or unwilling to notice the immense system-building sporting potential of the underage and youth sports that ensure an inflow of prospects to many elite sports including the Olympic ones. There is still much work to be done for progress in this sector. It should be emphasized that the progress in every element of the national physical education and sport system is still hampered by the limited inflow of professional human resource in the physical education and sport sector and its advanced training system. The human resourcing problems of the sector need to be addressed not only by the professional education but also further professional excellence and retraining systems to facilitate good leadership, research, new ideas and projects for progress of the physical education and sport sector.

There are quite a few contradictions and barriers for progress in the existing physical education and sport specialist training and professional retraining and excellence systems. It is ridiculous that some municipal/ regional public sports school avoid hiring certified physical education and sport specialists for different reasons (e.g. for the lack of a higher pedagogical education degree, or a sport-specific qualification), whilst the private commercial sports schools or fitness clubs do not hesitate to hire non-certified personnel on the coaching positions.

Thus, in 2011-19 a research team of the Southern Federal University’s Physical Education and Sport Academy surveyed the coaching personnel in a popular fitness network and private commercial sports clubs to find, particularly in the early years of the study period, heavy shortages of certified personnel, with some clubs/ centers served by totally uncertified (having no academic physical education and sport degrees) trainers and instructors. It is not unusual even nowadays that some large commercial fitness centers still run excellence training courses and workshops for their human resource having no basic physical education and sport education qualification whatsoever.

Regretfully, such practices are not alien for many reputable academic education establishments taking them on an informal basis. Thus, an inspection of the physical education specialist training service in the Rostov Oblast found a few vocational and higher physical education and sport professional retraining and excellence courses offered by universities having no physical education and sport service faculties, with the courses served by 1-2 lecturers having no physical education and sport certificates or titles; alternatively, some courses were served by certified personnel on a part-time contractual basis. It should be mentioned in this context that no high-quality physical education and sport specialist training service may be provided by the educational establishments having neither qualification nor traditions and experiences in the physical education and sport sector disciplines. It has become traditional for the last decades for many national universities to train economists and lawyers, and the same contradictory trend seems to have infected the physical education and sport specialist training service. On the one hand, the trend may be interpreted as indicative of the growing demand for the physical education and sport specialists, and on the other hand, the physical education and sport service market has been oversaturated by the low-quality human resource as demonstrated by the Rostov Oblast based technical and economic universities that now train physical education instructors and school teachers. The situation is further aggravated by the fact that any national university may organize a 250-hour distant training professional retraining and excellence course – this is the minimal duration of training needed to obtain a professional specialist certificate. This unhealthy situation effectively degrades the traditional values, priorities, meanings and incentives for the physical education and sport specialist education service.

As things now stand, any lawyer, economist, engineer or sociologist may easily obtain a physical education and sport specialist certificate from a 250-hour professional retraining and excellence course under auspices of an educational establishment having no expertise nor traditions and stuffed by an uncertified faculty – and this newborn ‘physical education and sport specialist’ may qualify for a coaching position at a public sports school on the formally legitimate grounds as provided by the valid professional standard. Ironically, the duly certified academic physical education and sport graduates have no chance to qualify for such position due to their formal specialty being too specific and, hence, their credentials for the sports, coaching or pedagogic service questionable.

This problem is now so relevant that it requires clarification and methodological recommendations from the federal authorities on the one hand, and there are quite a few questions to the wording and requirements of the valid physical education and sport professional training/ retraining standards on the other hand – that should clearly require “higher physical education and sport education” for recruitment to any physical education and sport service. On the whole, the present situation on the physical education and sport specialist service market appears to be rather contradictory since the physical education and sport universities strive to meet the market demand for the top professional human resource whilst there is an overflow of pseudo-specialists in the sector who slowly but constantly degrade the physical education and sport service quality. The efforts to tighten the physical education and sport (including fitness) service responsibilities and requirements to sort out the poor-quality human resource only complicate the situation for the physical education and sport sector professionals instead of screening the non-professionals in the sector.

We believe that the sector has long been in need of a prudently designed physical education and sport specialist training strategy. The Southern Federal University’s Physical Education and Sport Academy made an attempt to develop and implement such strategy to effectively improve the educational service quality in the physical education and sport specialist training disciplines based on its 70-years-long experience and developments in this field. For such a long period of time, the SFU’s Physical Education and Sport Academy has trained thousands of physical education and sport service specialists, bachelors and masters. In fact, since it was found back in 1949 as a Physical Education Department of the Russian State Pedagogical Institute, it was the only physical education and sport specialist training establishment in the Rostov Oblast that was followed only in a few years by a Physical Education Department of the Kuban Institute (later University) that was soon dissolved.

For the last two decades, the regional physical education and sport sector reported a fierce competition on the physical education and sport service market – in luring entrants, in the education service quality, in the university image building, foreign marketing, new physical education and sport curricula and projects, innovative solutions and other aspects. Southern Federal University came up with the following physical education and sport service progress strategy to hold its strong physical education and sport market position and expand the service.

The Southern Federal University management made strong ideological and technological decisions to ensure the high-quality of the physical education and sport specialist training service and its competitiveness on the market. Ideological aspects prioritized the image building, particularly in the physical education and sport service quality in every theoretical and practical component with the efficient consulting and follow-up service, with a special attention to the cost efficiency and effectiveness, whilst the commercial aspects of the service were rated secondary. As soon as the ideological basis was provided, the technological solutions were fast to come. Thus in 2011 the SFU Physical Education and Sport Academy established a Research and Education Center "Innovative Technologies and Theoretical and Practical Provisions for the Physical Education and Sports System" (in 2017 it was renamed to the SFU Sports REC to promote a streamlined version of the Center brand name and insignia.

As for the ideological aspect, the updated physical education and sport service ideology was geared to secure a top-quality theoretical and practical physical education and sport competences for the university graduates to meet interests and expectations of the physical education and sport service community and clientele, keep up the high demand for the quality physical education and sport service and, hence, supply of the human resource for the physical education and sport service market. The actual practice has demonstrated benefits of the open physical education and sport specialist training curriculum as verified by the high interest and demand from the students, including the full-time academic physical education and sport curriculum and the retraining and excellence curricula – to lay a basis for the innovative physical education and sport research and service programming activity.

It should be emphasized that the actual practice demonstrated that the physical education and sport specialist training curriculum unsupported by the ideological provisions and the relevant technological solutions face multiple problems and may not be successful enough and often fail in a long run – even when promoted and supported by administrative means and fuelled by other resources. It was found that a successful physical education and sport service ideology and strategy shall not only secure a stable and ample inflow of entrants but also facilitate the physical education and sport curricula cloning efforts to conquer new physical education and sport service segments on the market. Thus the SFU Sports REC came up in 2012 with a special training program for trainers called “Applied Aspects of Sport-specific Trainings” and designed on a highly affordable and competitive basis in every aspect (with the training service priced about 3 times lower than the competitive products whilst its quality was much higher). This training course made it possible for the Rostov Oblast public sports schools to have a high-quality and reasonably priced physical education and sport training service for their personnel. It is very important that the professional retraining and excellence service for the trainers was provided with no detriment to the school training process as the SFU Sports REC teaching staff visited every client sports school on an agreed schedule – mostly in the daytime breaks between the regular training sessions.

It is also important that the topics and key contents of the valid professional retraining and excellence course were actively customized to the client’s needs and expectations, with the trainings facilitated by the high-tech test and research equipment procured under a special SFU Sports REC development project. Every client could have a customized professional retraining and excellence course option at his own premises at no sacrifice for the theoretical and practical training service quality. The professional retraining and excellence curriculum ensures a high synergy of the ongoing physical education and sport research and education for the new quality of the service. The on-site format of the professional retraining and excellence service made it possible to solve multiple problems, e.g.: run the professional retraining and excellence course as required promote the ongoing research in different physical education and sport service fields; negotiate contracts for research and practical support of the individual athletes and picked teams in a wide variety of sport disciplines; lure potential entrants to the undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate courses etc.

It took only 1-2 years for the new professional retraining and excellence program to conquer virtually the whole regional physical education and sport specialist training service market and expand to the other regions – when the clients for the program were coming from the neighboring Krasnodar Territory, Voronezh and Tula Oblasts etc.). What is even more important, the professional retraining and excellence program has been expanded to offer trainings in new fields including the sports management, school physical education theory and practice and some others – with every such professional retraining and excellence service module persistently developed to meet actual demands and needs of the clients. On the whole, the professional retraining and excellence service program was actively expanded to include 27 such training modules by 2019.

Since 2014, the SFU Sports REC has offered a 1008-hour innovative physical education and sport professional retraining and excellence program on a cost-efficient asynchronous-mixed basis – that means that the students are offered multiple training options: full-time, part-time, combined and distant, with every student free to find an individual training model without unnecessary administrative and bureaucratic limitations and delays – on a most convenient and easily mixable basis. Many professional retraining and excellence course disciplines may be simultaneously studied by bachelors or masters to facilitate repetitions until the knowledge, competency and skill is fully mastered – to save costs of the full-time trainings or skip some elements of the full-time professional retraining and excellence curriculum when they are well known. By 2019, the professional retraining and excellence program offered three postgraduate training modules, and the total number of students per annum came close to that in the regular full-time bachelor training programs.

Since 2011 the SFU Sports REC has offered a Master Physical Education and Sport Training Program in 04.04.01 Pedagogical Education discipline. Only one year later, it was complemented by 2 more training modules, with the total number of students in the Program also comparable with the number of bachelors, and by this indicator the Physical Education and Sport Academy is now ranked among the physical education and sport service leaders in SFU and the Southern region on the whole. It should be mentioned that more than a half of the Master course students are former graduates of many Russian and foreign universities – that means that the training service popularity is growing in the national and international dimensions. It is not unusual for the SFU Sports REC graduates to make careers in the physical education and sports schools and universities and come to management positions. Being indoctrinated by the Sports REC ideology of the theoretical and practical progress in the field, they often come up as contractors for the professional retraining and excellence service for their physical education and sport personnel thereby contributing to the inflow of students to the advanced/ excellence training and retraining workshops, courses and research groups, including special trainings for the public school/ college graduates.

The array of the above new technological solutions made it possible to not only expand the range of services offered by the Physical Education and Sport Academy, but also create a new sports training center at the university on a successful commercial basis. Thus the “Southern Meridian” Sports Center recently (2017) commissioned by Southern Federal University offers more than 30 health/ physical fitness programs for children, youth and adults based on a new academic sports progress strategy for every progress stage – to fully employ the great human resource of the university faculty and its research and practical service units, with a great potential for the new service model expansion to the other national universities and regions. The Southern Federal University management is looking forward to establishing a federal Olympic reserve sport schools and undertaking many other projects.

Conclusion. As demonstrated by the SFU Physical Education and Sport Academy progress for the last decade, a clear ideology with a progress strategy lays a sound basis for a self-sufficient and growing system that almost automatically generates solutions for the new challenges to meet the social demand for the service including the physical education and sport specialist training service systems with the extensive theoretical and practical provisions for the high-quality service standards.

References

  1. Physical education and sports development strategy in the Russian Federation for the period until 2020: Order of the Government of the Russian Federation of August 7, 2009 No. 1101­r.
  2. Chertov N.V. The problem of systemic transformations in physical education and sports organization in the Russian Federation. Scientific bulletin. Dnipro: Nauka i obrazovanie publ. 2018. no. 8. v. 1. pp. 19­21.
  3. Andryushchenko L.B., Filimonova, S.I., Aksenov, M.O. Physical education service at university of economics: Mission and progress policies. Teoriya i Praktika Fizicheskoy Kultury, Volume 2019, no. 9, 2019, pp. 9­11

Corresponding author:

Abstract

Objective of the study was to analyze progress of the physical education and sport specialist training strategy for the South of Russia, with the Rostov Oblast taken for a case study.

Methods and structure of the studyю We made, for the purposes of the study, analyses of the relevant theoretical and practical literature, regulatory documents, archive materials and expert opinions.

Results of the study. Based on the study data and analysis, the authors identified the problems of the education service market in the sphere of physical culture and sport in the Rostov Region. Thus, they focused on a specialist training strategy in the sphere of physical culture and sport developed at the Academy of Physical Culture and Sport of Southern Federal University. Implementation of this strategy implies working on the ideological and technological solutions aimed to improve quality of specialist training in this field. The essence of ideological solutions consists in cultivating an appropriate image of a quality physical education system, enabling to relatively quickly receive relevant scientific and methodological recommendations in various physical culture and sport activities, as well as economic feasibility and sufficiency with no pronounced commercialization. As an example of constructive technological solutions, the authors set the core activity of Rostov Academy of Physical Culture and Sport aimed at creating a research and educational center following the principle of full cost-recovery, developing continuing education programs, professional retraining, etc.

Conclusion. Clearly expressed ideology and strategy of actions enable to get a self-sufficient and evolving system that would help address the challenges of personnel training in the field of physical culture and sport, scientific and methodological support, training of top-qualification personnel, etc. The activity of the Academy of Physical Culture and Sport of the Southern Federal University can provide a valuable example.