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Motor Development Research: I. The Lessons of History Revisited (the 18th to the 20th Century)

Jill Whitall, Nadja Schott, Leah E. Robinson, Farid Bardid, and Jane E. Clark

In 1989, Clark and Whitall asked the question, “What is motor development?” They were referring to the study of motor development as an academic research enterprise and answered their question primarily by describing four relatively distinct time periods characterized by changes in focus, theories or concepts, and methodology. Their last period was named the process-oriented period (1970–1989). In hindsight, it seems clear that their last period could be divided into two separate historical time periods: the information-processing period (1970–1982) and the dynamical systems period (1982–2000). In the present paper, we briefly revisit the first three periods defined by Clark and Whitall, and expand and elaborate on the two periods from 1970 to the turn of the century. Each period is delineated by key papers and the major changes in focus, theories or concepts, and methodology. Major findings about motor development are also described from some papers as a means of showing the progression of knowledge.

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Reflections on Motor Development Research Across the 20th Century: Six Empirical Studies That Changed the Field

Jane E. Clark, Farid Bardid, Nancy Getchell, Leah E. Robinson, Nadja Schott, and Jill Whitall

Motor development research has had a rich history over the 20th century with a wide array of scientists contributing to a broad and deep body of literature. Just like the process of development, progress within the field has been non-linear, with rapid periods of growth occurring after the publication of key research articles that changed how we conceptualized and explored motor development. These publications provided new ways to consider developmental issues and, as a result, ignited change in our theoretical and empirical approaches within the field of motor development and the broader field of developmental psychology. In this paper, we outline and discuss six pioneering studies that we consider significant in their impact and in the field’s evolution, in order of publication: ; ; ; ; ; . We have limited this review to empirical papers only. Together, they offer insight into what motor development research is, where it came from, why it matters, and what it has achieved.

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Motor Development Research: II. The First Two Decades of the 21st Century Shaping Our Future

Jill Whitall, Farid Bardid, Nancy Getchell, Melissa M. Pangelinan, Leah E. Robinson, Nadja Schott, and Jane E. Clark

In Part I of this series I, we looked back at the 20th century and re-examined the history of Motor Development research described in Clark & Whitall’s 1989 paper “What is Motor Development? The Lessons of History”. We now move to the 21st century, where the trajectories of developmental research have evolved in focus, branched in scope, and diverged into three new areas. These have progressed to be independent research areas, co-existing in time. We posit that the research focus on Dynamical Systems at the end of the 20th century has evolved into a Developmental Systems approach in the 21st century. Additionally, the focus on brain imaging and the neural basis of movement have resulted in a new approach, which we entitled Developmental Motor Neuroscience. Finally, as the world-wide obesity epidemic identified in the 1990s threatened to become a public health crisis, researchers in the field responded by examining the role of motor development in physical activity and health-related outcomes; we refer to this research area as the Developmental Health approach. The glue that holds these research areas together is their focus on movement behavior as it changes across the lifespan.

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Motor Competence Among Children in the United Kingdom and Ireland: An Expert Statement on Behalf of the International Motor Development Research Consortium

Michael J. Duncan, Lawrence Foweather, Farid Bardid, Anna L. Barnett, James Rudd, Wesley O’Brien, Jonathan D. Foulkes, Clare Roscoe, Johann Issartel, Gareth Stratton, and Cain C.T. Clark

The United Kingdom and Ireland have a well-established research base in motor competence (MC) research, ranging from reporting and monitoring levels of MC, developing assessment tools for MC, providing innovative curriculum and intervention design to support learning and development, as well as providing advocacy for particular groups, such as those with motor impairments. This expert statement, on behalf of the International Motor Development Research Consortium, draws together what is currently known about levels of MC in the United Kingdom and Ireland as well as current approaches to intervention in both countries. Subsequently presented are recommendations for researchers and practitioners to advance the field of MC for the benefit of children and youth in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and worldwide.