Dynamic balance performance of young children (ages 4, 6, and 8) was assessed in three social situations: alone (only with tester present); coaction (one other child performing at the same time); and spectators (five other observer children present). Within each age and gender, children (N = 120) were classified as of higher or lower comparative skill. Each balance task performed (walking forward and backward on a line, a narrow beam or a wide beam) was classified as representing easier or more difficult tasks for each child individually. Findings (p ≤ .05) indicated that the facilitation effects of social situations strengthened over age, with spectators producing increments in performance for children of higher skill (especially boys) and decrements in performance for the lower skilled children (both boys and girls). Coaction resulted in positive effects regardless of skill level.
This investigation was conducted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the PhD degree under the direction of Robert Stadulis and Richard Hawthorne at Kent State University. The analysis procedures presented here, using individual task difficulty classification, differ from those presented in the dissertation, which employed a group task difficulty classification procedure.
This research was supported in part by Ohio's Annie Webb Blanton Award of the Delta Kappa Gamma Society International to the first author.
Requests for reprints should be sent to Mary Jo MacCracken, Dept. of Physical Education, University of Akron, Akron, OH 44325.