The Long Game: Tom Martinek

Posted on March 01, 2018


As a young education professor in the 1970s and 1980s, Dr. Tom Martinek was interested in the impact of teacher expectations on students — the Pygmalion effect. He was preparing future PE teachers and working to understand how things like “learned helplessness” might affect students.

“That research was a stepping stone for me to begin to try things out, to take that research and try to apply it to programs in the community,” says Martinek, now a professor of kinesiology.

His early work helped at-risk kids through after-school programs that involved physical activity. They were mostly short-term efforts that ran for a year or two and provided Martinek with fodder for journal articles.

But Martinek wanted to do more. And he thought a framework called Teaching Personal and Social Responsibility through Physical Activity, or TPSR, was the key.