Paul M. Wright, Ph.D.

EC Lane and MN Zimmerman Endowed Professor
Board of Trustees Professor
Distinguished Engagement Professor


Kinesiology and Physical Education

Research Interests

I specialize in the Teaching Personal and Social Responsibility (TPSR) instructional model. My scholarship is very applied and relates directly to fields such as positive youth development, social and emotional learning, and sport for development. I also have interests in policy and program evaluation as it relates to youth sport and physical activity. I lead the Physical Activity and Life Skills (PALS) Group at NIU which serves as an engine for engaged scholarship on these topics.


  • Ph.D. University of Illinois at Chicago, Education (Curriculum and Instruction)
  • M.S. University of Illinois at Chicago, Kinesiology
  • Ph.D. University of Illinois at Chicago, Biological Sciences


  • Richards, K.A.R., Hemphill, M. A. & Wright, P. M. (2024). Qualitative research methods in physical education and sport pedagogy. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
  • Wright, P. M. & Richards, K.A.R. (2022). Social and emotional learning in physical education: Applications in school and community settings. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
  • Amis, J. & Wright, P. M. (2018). The Dynamics of School District Consolidation: Race, Economics & the Politics of Educational Change. Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press.

Recent Articles

Funded Projects

  • Director, Physical Activity and Life Skills (PALS) Group. Helped to secure and manage charitable giving of $150,000 to support growth and expansion of the PALS Group, 2020-2022.
  • Project Director, Morgridge Research Partnership Accelerator Grant, Transformative Social and Emotional Learning in Physical Education, $20,000. Funded by the College of Education, Northern Illinois University, 2021-2022.
  • Project director, ENVEST Sri Lanka. A $50,158 sub-award from Virginia Commonwealth University as part of a cooperative agreement funded by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, 2017-2018.
  • Project director, Belizean Youth Sport Coalition (BYSC): Promoting youth development and social change through sport, grant funded for $224,956 by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, 2013-2016.
  • Project director, Youth Fit to Lead Project: Developing leadership through sport, action research grant for $5,000, funded by the C. Charles Jackson Foundation, 2013.
  • Principal investigator on the Head Start Body Start National Center for Physical Development and Outdoor Play-Program Evaluation, funded by the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance for $164,000 from October 1, 2011 to September 29, 2012.
  • Principal investigator, Promoting Positive Youth Development through Schools in Spain: An Implementation Study, Research Award for $24,000 from U.S. Fulbright Commission, 2010.
  • Principal investigator, Evaluating the development and implementation of Head Start Body Start: The National Center for Physical development in Outdoor Play, external evaluation contracts for $196,960, funded by the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, 2009-2011.

Courses Taught

  • EPS 799: Doctoral Research and Dissertation
  • KNPE 399: Youth Development through Physical Activity
  • KNPE 445: Measurement and Evaluation in Physical Education
  • KNPE 449: Current Topics in Physical Education and Sport
  • KNPE 569: Instructional Skills in Physical Education
  • KNPE 671: Directed Research in Kinesiology and Physical Education

Recent Honors

  • National Academy of Kinesiology (NAK) Fellow (2022)
  • Research Council Chair for SHAPE America (2022-2023)
  • Honors Faculty Fellow (2022-2023)
  • Illinois Scholar of the Year for IAHPERD (2022)
  • Presidential Engagement Professor (2018-2022)

Contact Us

Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education
Anderson Hall 221
DeKalb, IL 60115
P: 815-753-1407
F: 815-753-1413

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