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New Mexico State University

Classroom Innovation

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Kimberly Oliver, along with research partner and colleague Heather Oesterreich, an associate professor at NMSU, is passionate about the need for a change in teacher education. Her current research focus is on the positive impact that a student-centered and inquiry-based methods course-taught in the public schools-has on pre-service teachers' abilities to be student-centered educators.

What does "student centered" mean? It means educators learning to listen and respond to their students in order to boost the students' interest, motivation and learning. Curriculum is developed by keeping the focus on the students' interests and needs and then responding to those through both programs of study and teaching methods.

Oliver encourages pre-service teachers to listen and value student voices, and to understand how to utilize feedback in the creation of curriculum. Engaging students in the development of a course allows for a deeper understanding of student needs.

"Student-centered inquiry is not about letting the students do whatever they want. It is about connecting the students' interests with the lesson content and the state standards," Oliver said.


  • “Bodily Knowledge: Learning about Equity and Justice with Adolescent Girls,” published book with Peter Lang
  • Her work is found in journals such as Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, Teachers College Record, Journal of Curriculum Studies, just to name a few.
  • Principal investigator for a 3-year $1 million grant, “The Las Cruces Health and Physical Activity Initiative,” through the Department of Education
  • American Educational Research Association Special Interest Group on Research on Learning and Instruction in Physical Education, chair from 2007-2010
  • Pedagogy associate editor for Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

Oliver is a professor of physical education teacher education in the Department of Human Performance, Dance and Recreation at NMSU, where she directs the Physical Education Teacher Education Program. She holds a bachelor’s degree in recreation administration from California State University, Chico; a master’s degree in physical education from California State University, Fresno; and a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from Virginia Tech.



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