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Autonomy-Supportive, External-Focus Instructions Optimize Children’s Motor Learning in Physical Education

Thomas Simpson, Mitchell Finlay, Victoria Simpson, Ayoub Asadi, Paul Ellison, Evelyn Carnegie, and David Marchant

An external focus of attention and autonomy support are identified as key factors to optimize motor learning; however, research in children is limited. Moreover, research has failed to examine these factors in ecologically valid motor learning settings, like physical education. Therefore, the present study examined the effects of external focus of attention when delivered using autonomy-supportive or controlling instructional language on children’s motor learning. Thirty-three novice participants (10.30 ± 0.52 years) practiced a land-based curling task under supportive (external-focus instructions delivered with supportive language), controlling (external-focus instructions delivered with controlling language), or neutral (external instructions embedded in the task aim) conditions before completing a retention and transfer test. The supportive group produced higher positive affect after practice and greater accuracy in the retention test compared with the other groups. The findings provide support for the OPTIMAL (optimizing performance through intrinsic motivation and attention for learning) theory of motor learning that combining an external focus and autonomy support conditions improves motor learning.

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SKIPping With PAX: Evaluating the Effects of a Dual-Component Intervention on Gross Motor Skill and Social–Emotional Development

Ali Brian, Emily E. Munn, T. Cade Abrams, Layne Case, Sally Taunton Miedema, Alexandra Stribing, Unjong Lee, and Stephen Griffin

Improving the development of the social, emotional, and physical domains during early childhood impacts the overall trajectory of a child’s well-being. However, researchers often address these independently, leaving a gap for a more integrated approach to promoting development. This study explores the effects of a dual-component intervention on changes in preschool-aged boys’ and girls’ gross motor and social–emotional skills. Preschoolers (N = 475; girls = 220 and boys = 255) ages 3–6 years completed the 9-month dual-component intervention and were randomized into control (n = 148) or intervention (n = 327) groups by classroom. Significant improvements were observed in social skills, locomotor, and total Test of Gross Motor Development-3. Additionally, boys and girls improved at the same rate in ball skills, locomotor, and total Test of Gross Motor Development-3. These results suggest that the dual-component intervention can improve preschoolers’ social skills and motor skills with no differential effects.

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The Handwriting Legibility Scale: A Language and Age Extension for Students With and Without Specific Learning Difficulties

Nichola Stuart, Stefania Zoia, Marina Biancotto, and Anna L. Barnett

Handwriting is a useful skill through education, yet handwriting difficulties are common in students with Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD), including Developmental Coordination Disorder. There are few practical tools to assess legibility, among these the Handwriting Legibility Scale (HLS) shows good reliability and validity for 9- to 14-year-olds in the United Kingdom. The aims of the current study were to investigate applicability of the HLS in students with and without SpLD in (a) another language and (b) older age groups. First, the HLS was translated and applied to writing scripts of 193 9- to 14-year-olds in Italy. Findings support previous work on reliability and validity. A principal component analysis confirmed a single component for the HLS at this age and there was differentiation between scripts from students with and without SpLD. Second, the HLS was applied to writing scripts of 80 15- to 16-year-olds and 120 17- to 25-year-olds in the United Kingdom. Results showed good reliability and differentiation between scripts from students with and without SpLD. A principal component analysis revealed two components for the HLS in the older age groups. Language and age differences in the use of the HLS are discussed, alongside other considerations when applying the tool to help identify handwriting difficulties in students.

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Is There a Place for Assessment of Procedural Perceptual-Motor Learning in Pediatric Rehabilitation? A Survey of French Psychomotor and Occupational Therapists

Elodie Martin, David Trouilloud, and Jessica Tallet

The principles of motor learning have been applied in neurological rehabilitation for years. The underlying assumption is that these principles that have been identified in research on healthy individuals would also apply to those with neurological disorders, making them highly relevant for rehabilitation. However, there is currently no tool dedicated to evaluating motor learning abilities, that refers to procedural perceptual-motor learning (PPML) abilities, before rehabilitation. To address this gap, we created a new tool assessing PPML (EVALuation de l’APprentissage Procedural [EVAL_APP]), based on two experimental tasks known to assess motor sequence learning and visuomotor adaptation. The study aimed to determine whether this tool is suitable for clinical practice and meets care needs by conducting a cross-sectional online survey of psychomotor and occupational therapists in France. The results show that professionals are interested in measuring PPML, and over half of them indicated that they would use the tool. Participants who felt trained about PPML responded positively to the relevance of PPML assessment and to the future use of the EVAL_APP tool. While some parameters of the EVAL_APP tool are well adjusted, others may need improvement to be adapted for children with neurodevelopmental disorders, including Developmental Coordination Disorder. The results are encouraging for pursuing the conception of the new tool by considering the opinion of professionals specialized in pediatric rehabilitation.

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Correlates of Motor Competence in Primary School Students: A Cross-Sectional Study From a Portuguese Municipality

Francisco Carvalho, Marcos Onofre, João Mota, Miguel Peralta, Adilson Marques, Ana Quitério, António Rodrigues, Pedro Alves, Wesley O’Brien, and João Martins

Children’s motor competence (MC) levels tend to be low, and the investigation of variables that facilitate skillfulness is an important concern. The socioecological model is a useful framework to explore factors that influence MC and to inform the development of targeted interventions. This cross-sectional study aimed to perform an exploratory analysis of MC correlates among children. The sample comprised 267 second- and fourth-grade children (120 female; M age = 102 months, SD = 14 months) from six primary schools. The children’s legal guardian questionnaire collected sociodemographic, behavioral, and family variables. MC was assessed with the Motorische Basiskompetenzen battery. Data analysis involved simple and multiple regression models. The mean total Motorische Basiskompetenzen score was 8.9 (3.4) out of a maximum score of 16. Sex, age, body mass index, and physical activity and sports clubs were significantly related to total MC in all models (p < .05). The final model predicted a variance of 24.5%, adjusted R 2 = .245, F(20, 246) = 5.32, p < .001, with male sex (B = 2.03) and organized physical activity (B = 0.35) being positively associated with total MC. Fourth grade (B = −3.6) and body mass index (B = −0.23) were negatively associated with MC. The study provides provisional evidence for the role of some sociodemographic and behavioral factors in MC development, which are important to design future MC interventions.

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Nature-Based or Traditional Kindergarten to Develop Fundamental Motor Skills? A Pilot Study

Charlotte Skau Pawlowski, Anne Vibild Lammert, Jasper Schipperijn, and Mette Toftager

Environmental characteristics of kindergartens are important for the development of kindergarten-aged children. However, knowledge of the role of kindergarten play environments in developing children’s fundamental movement skills is limited. A pilot study was carried out to compare the fundamental movement skills of 3.5- to 5-year-old children in two kindergarten groups. One group had access to a traditional playground, an indoor room for active play, and had weekly trips. The other group had access to a nature-based playground. Fundamental movement skills were measured using the short form of the Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency, second edition test. In total, 28 children participated—11 children attended the kindergarten group with the traditional playground, and 17 children attended the kindergarten group with the nature-based playground. The total test score was 14.64 for children with access to a traditional playground and 16.71 for children with access to a nature-based playground. However, no statistically significant difference between the groups in total test score and the individual tests was found. It might be that space and diversity of features are more important than exposure to nature. In future research, more robust longitudinal studies with larger samples are required to investigate different kindergarten playground designs and environmental features related to motor skill development.

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Validation and Psychometric Properties of the German Version of the Adolescent Motor Competence Questionnaire

Nadja Schott, Beth Hands, Fleur McIntyre, and Amanda Timler

Introduction/Background: In 2016, the Adolescent Motor Competence Questionnaire (AMCQ) was developed in Australia. The AMCQ was developed to assess perceived motor competence in adolescents between the ages of 12 and 18 years. The 26 items represent four factors: participation in physical activity and sports, activities of daily living, public performance, and peer comparison. Aims/Objectives: Currently, no validated German-language self-report screening instrument exists for assessing perceived motor competence among adolescents. This study aimed to validate the German version of the AMCQ (AMCQ-GER). Methods/Approach: The German translation’s factor structure and psychometric properties were analyzed based on a community sample of 635 healthy children and adolescents between 10 and 18 years of age (12.9 ± 2.31 years, 321 boys and 312 girls) and 100 healthy young adults between 19 and 30 years of age (23.0 ± 2.92 years, 49 men and 51 women). The previously validated cutoff score of ≤83 out of 104 was used to group the sample into high and low motor competence. Results: The mean AMCQ-GER score was 84.9 (SD = 8.59), and 38.8% of the participants identified with low motor competence. The principle component analysis revealed clear evidence for a three-factorial structure comprising physical activity and sports, general clumsiness, and activities of daily living (with an explained variance of 29.2%). Reliability for all scales was excellent, with a McDonald’s ϖ of at least .70. The overall conclusion of the Rasch analysis supported the confirmatory factor analysis, although with an overall smaller number of items (18 instead of 26). The AMCQ-GER was positively correlated with age (.26**) and participation in organized club sports (.19**). It was negatively correlated with body mass index (−.23**) and school grade in physical activity (−.40**). Conclusions/Relevance: Our rigorous validation protocol has generated a remarkable reproduction of the AMCQ in German. These results suggest that the language and structure of the questionnaire is appropriate for German-speaking countries.

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Ability of Adjusting Grip Strength From Childhood to Adulthood

Chiaki Ohtaka and Motoko Fujiwara

Purpose: This cross-sectional study aimed to investigate the ability to adjust grip strength by comparing the characteristics of force generation and relaxation from childhood to adulthood. Method: This study included 225 participants aged 6, 11, 17, and 19–23 years (adults) who performed isometric hand-grip force as follows: maximum, half generation, and half relaxation. The force was recorded, and relative values and errors were calculated for half tasks. Results: The maximum task values increased with age, but there was no significant age difference between 17-year-olds and adults. The difference between sexes was significant; males were stronger than females in both 17-year-olds and adults. Both sexes in all age groups had greater errors in half relaxation than in half generation tasks. Females had negatively greater constant error than males in half tasks. The errors of 6-year-olds were greater than the other age groups in half tasks. Conclusion: There is a developmental trend for producing maximal strength that is similar across sexes until adolescence when males are stronger and females plateau. The ability of force relaxation was more difficult to accurately control than force generation for all age groups and was adult-like by middle childhood.

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Does Knowledge of Results Affect Motor Skill Learning and Adaptation in Interception-Like Tasks?

Cláudio Manoel Ferreira Leite, Herbert Ugrinowitsch, and Crislaine Rangel Couto

Knowledge of results (KR), particularly its informational role, has often been regarded as redundant for learning interception-like tasks, such as coincidence–anticipation timing tasks. However, it is possible that the KR’s guiding effect might be detrimental to motor adaptation, instead of only redundant, leading to a dependency on KR and steering the sensorimotor system away from relevant information of the task. In this study, we aimed to investigate KR’s effect on learning a coincidence–anticipation timing tasks and on the adaptation to unpredictable perturbations. Two groups of participants practiced a coincidence–anticipation timing tasks with or without KR on 1 day and underwent testing the next day for learning (Retention test) and for adaptation to unpredictable perturbations (Exposure phase). Both groups exhibited similar learning results but failed to adapt to the perturbations, contradicting the assumption of negative guidance effects of KR and the positive effects of relying solely on intrinsic information (no KR). These findings suggest that motor adaptation may require specific information during the acquisition process, highlighting for more systematic analyses to understand this phenomenon better. Such insights could have practical implications in contexts like sports and rehabilitation, by providing learners with appropriate information for acquiring adaptive internal representations of tasks.

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Erratum. Do Fundamental Movement Skill Domains in Early Childhood Predict Engagement in Physical Activity of Varied Intensities Later at School Age? A 3-Year Longitudinal Study

Journal of Motor Learning and Development