Student & ECR Spotlight – Meet Sofie Koch, a PhD researcher aiming to understand the implementation of a national physical activity requirement, mandating public schools to implement 45 minutes of daily physical activity within curriculum.

Please tell us about your career pathway to date (positions and institutes).

I am a last-year PhD candidate from the Active Living unit, Department of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics, University of Southern Denmark. Initially I completed a BSc (2014) followed by a MSc (2016) in Sports and Health from University of Southern Denmark. Following the completion of my master’s degree, I worked for almost a year as research assistant at the Research and Implementation Centre for Human Movement and Learning, University of Southern Denmark. During my employment as research assistant I was fortunate to be offered the opportunity to start a PhD.

How would you briefly describe your current research/job to someone who is not familiar with your field of study/work? What is your main research interest?

My main research interest is to try to understand ways to translate policies/programs into practice within the field of physical activity in a school setting.  

In 2014, the Danish Government introduced a wide-ranging school reform that applied to the public schools in Denmark. From a physical activity promotion perspective, a distinctive feature of the school reform was that it became mandatory to implement an average of 45 minutes of daily physical activity within the curriculum.

My PhD research aims to understand the implementation process of a national physical activity requirement aiming at all public schools in Denmark. To do so I am trying to understand school barriers to implementation of a national PA requirement, examining central factors for adoption, implementation and maintenance of the requirement, and finally am I trying to get a deeper insight into the best cases – the schools who have succeeded with the implementation – what have they done.

What are the main barriers you encounter/experience when conducting research, or what information/skills do you lack to conduct high quality research?

I think the main barrier I have experienced when conducting research in a school setting is the recruitment of participants, which I guess most researcher working with schools will recognize. Schools and the educational system are busy with the core business of learning. This premise affects their capacity to participate in research.

What could help you as a student/ECR to further develop/grow in your current position?

Network, collaboration and professional development are definitely important factors for me to further grow in my position. I am really interested in collaborating with other researchers to learn more about how they work and discuss relevant issues and methods.

What do you think will be the next most important development in the nutrition and/or physical activity field? 

That’s a really good question! I think that the next important development within the field of physical activity is to collaborate even more with practice when developing interventions. Consumers play an incredibly important role in the implementation of our research projects, as they often are the once delivering the intervention. Thus, through close collaboration with practitioners, policymaker and other relevant stakeholders I think it will be easier to translate research into practice.

You can contact Sofie via email [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @SofieKoch2