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Comparing Learners’ Attitude, Knowledge, and Behaviors for Active Living in Physical Education Between Two Middle Schools

Yang Liu, Senlin Chen, and Xiangli Gu

Purpose: The study purpose was to examine performance differences in physical education among learners from two middle schools from two different states. Methods: Performance in physical education was represented by attitude toward physical education, knowledge of physical activity and fitness, and active living behaviors (i.e., physical activity and sedentary behavior). The sixth, seventh, and eighth graders of a midwestern state school (n = 397) and a deep southern state school (n = 350) completed the surveys (N = 747). Results: The authors observed statistically significant school differences in physical activity and fitness knowledge and physical activity behavior (favoring the deep southern state school), and in attitude and sedentary behavior (favoring the midwestern state school). The authors also found stronger associations between attitude and physical activity (but weaker associations between attitude and sedentary behavior) among the deep southern state school students than the midwestern state school students. Conclusion: These observed performance differences and their pedagogical ramifications are discussed in relation to sociodemographic and environmental factors.

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Physical Literacy at the Start Line: Young Children’s Motor Competence, Fitness, Physical Activity, and Fitness Knowledge

Xiangli Gu, Senlin Chen, and Xiaoxia Zhang

Purpose: Developing physically literate individuals is a major goal of school physical education. To date, no research in the United States has examined physical literacy by simultaneously measuring multiple dimensions among young children. The purpose of this study was to examine students’ current status of physical literacy in third grade. Method: Students (N = 342) from four elementary schools in Texas participated in the study. Dimensions of physical literacy including fundamental motor skills, health-related physical fitness, physical activity, and fitness knowledge were measured using the PE Metrics, FitnessGram, accelerometers, and a written test, respectively. Results: The students showed varying levels of competencies across the physical literacy dimensions. Based on the results from multivariate analyses of variance, physical literacy as the single overarching factor was statistically associated with gender, Wilks’s λ = .90, F(5, 316) = 6.82, p < .01, weight status, Wilks’s λ = .81, F(5, 316) = 14.43, p < .01, and ethnicity, Wilks’s λ = .96, F(5, 316) = 2.47, p < .05. Subsequent univariate analyses showed that girls had higher cardiorespiratory endurance but lower physical activity than boys; students with healthy body weight had higher cardiorespiratory endurance and fundamental motor skills than those with unhealthy weight; and Hispanic children displayed higher muscular fitness than non-Hispanic children. Conclusion: The physical literacy discrepancies by gender, weight status, and ethnicity identified in this study are useful for physical educators to promote physical literacy in various student groups.

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Physical Activity, Physical Fitness, and Health-Related Quality of Life in School-Aged Children

Xiangli Gu, Mei Chang, and Melinda A. Solmon

Purpose:

This study examined the association between physical activity (PA), physical fitness, and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) among school-aged children.

Methods:

Participants were 201 children (91 boys, 110 girls; Mage = 9.82) enrolled in one school in the southern US. Students’ PA (self-reported PA, pedometer-based PA) and physical fitness (cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular fitness, flexibility, and body composition) were assessed in the fall. The PedsQL4.0 (Varni et al., 2001) was used to assess participants’ HRQOL (physical and mental function) in the spring.

Results:

PA and four components of physical fitness were positively associated with physical and mental function. Path analyses suggested physical fitness mediated the relationship between self-reported PA and HRQOL (95% CI: [.53, 1.48]), as well as between pedometer-based PA and HRQOL (95% CI: [.54, 1.53]).

Discussion:

Results support the conclusion that enhancing children’s physical fitness can facilitate positive outcomes including improved health related quality of life.

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The Role of Teachers’ Support in Predicting Students’ Motivation and Achievement Outcomes in Physical Education

Tao Zhang, Melinda A. Solmon, and Xiangli Gu

Examining how teachers’ beliefs and behaviors predict students’ motivation and achievement outcomes in physical education is an area of increasing research interest. Guided by the expectancy-value model and self-determination theory, the major purpose of this study was to examine the predictive strength of teachers’ autonomy, competence, and relatedness support toward students’ expectancy-related beliefs, subjective task values, concentration, and persistence/effort in physical education. Participants were 273 middle school students (143 girls, 130 boys) enrolled in a southeastern suburban public school. They completed previously validated questionnaires assessing their perceived teachers’ support for autonomy, competence, and relatedness, expectancy-related beliefs, subjective task values, concentration, and self-reported persistence/effort during their regular classes. The results highlight the importance of teachers’ competence support and autonomy support in fostering students’ motivational constructs and achievement outcomes in physical education. The findings demonstrate that a supportive environment and high levels of expectancy-related beliefs and subjective task values are positively associated with students’ achievement outcomes in physical education.

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High-Intensity Interval Training-Based Fitness Education in Middle School Physical Education: A Limited-Efficacy Study

Senlin Chen, Yang Liu, Jared Androzzi, Baofu Wang, and Xiangli Gu

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the limited efficacy of a high-intensity interval training (HIIT)-based fitness education unit in middle school physical education (PE). Method: The study took place in six PE classes at one middle school located in the southern United States. The authors conveniently assigned the classes to treatment (n = 3 classes; 113 students) or control (n = 3 classes; 119 students) groups. Two trained PE specialists implemented the HIIT lessons two to three times per week for 8 weeks. The authors collected mixed methods data at the student, class, and teacher levels for the evaluation. Results: The focus group teacher interview with the teachers, field observations, and accelerometer-determined in-class physical activity data revealed sound implementation fidelity. The HIIT-based fitness education condition also showed greater improvement in physical activity and fitness knowledge and attenuated decline in curl-up scores compared with the control. Conclusion: The findings support the limited efficacy of implementing HIIT for fitness education in middle school PE programs.

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The Role of Perceived and Actual Motor Competency on Children’s Physical Activity and Cardiorespiratory Fitness During Middle Childhood

Xiangli Gu, Katherine Thomas Thomas, and Yu-Lin Chen

Purpose:

Guided by Stodden et al.’s (2008) conceptual model, the purpose of this study was to examine the associations among perceived competence, actual motor competence (MC), physical activity (PA), and cardiorespiratory fitness in elementary children. The group differences were also investigated as a function of MC levels.

Methods:

A correlational research design was used in this study. There were 262 children (Mage = 10.87, SD = .77) recruited from three schools in the southern U.S. Students’ MC was objectively measured based on a process-oriented assessment (PE Metrics, NASPE, 2010). Students self-reported perceived competence and leisure-time PA. Then, the Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run (PACER) and pedometers were used to measure students’ cardiorespiratory fitness and in-class PA, respectively.

Results:

The structural equation modeling analysis supported the significant indirect effect of the MC on cardiorespiratory fitness and PA through perceived competence. The MANCOVA yielded a significant main effect for MC groups after controlling for sex [Wilks’s Lambda = .838, F = 12.15 (4, 251), p < .001, η2 = .16]. Regardless of sex, children with low MC demonstrated lower perceived competence, PA, and cardiorespiratory fitness compared with children with higher MC (p < .001).

Discussion:

Development of students’ competence beliefs in PE and certain movement patterns should be emphasized, especially during middle childhood. High quality PE programs must be aligned with national standards, with particular attention to enhancing skill acquisition (standard 1) and PE-motivation (i.e., perceived competence; standard 5).

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Active Living Education: Leveling the Playing Field for Black or African American Students

Stacy Imagbe, Baofu Wang, Yang Liu, Jared Androzzi, Xiangli Gu, and Senlin Chen

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the potential racial disparities in education for active living (i.e., regular participation in moderate to vigorous physical activity with mitigated and interrupted levels of sedentary behavior) between Black/African American and White students. Methods: The study took place in one public middle school located in the Southeastern region of the United States. A total of 167 Black and 168 White students in sixth, seventh, and eighth grades completed a written test and a survey in physical education to assess active living knowledge and behaviors, respectively. Results: Multivariate analysis of covariance and tests of between-subjects effects showed significant race differences. Specifically, Black students scored significantly lower on the knowledge test and reported lower levels of physical activity out of school, and higher levels of sedentary behavior than White students, after controlling for grade and gender. Conclusion: The results identified racial disparities in knowledge and behaviors of active living. Tailored, culturally relevant active living education in and out of schools are needed to level the playing field for Black students.

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Predictive Strengths of Basic Psychological Needs in Physical Education Among Hispanic Children: A Gender-Based Approach

Tsz Lun (Alan) Chu, Tao Zhang, Katherine T. Thomas, Xiaoxia Zhang, and Xiangli Gu

Purpose: Based on the self-determination theory, this study explored the predictive strengths and relative importance of basic psychological needs (BPNs; i.e., autonomy, competence, and relatedness) in physical education in physical, cognitive, and psychological outcomes among Hispanic boys and girls. Methods: Fourth- and fifth-grade Hispanic children (N = 214; 110 boys and 104 girls) completed surveys measuring BPNs, effort in physical education, and general well-being and objective assessments of cardiorespiratory fitness and body mass index. Multiple regression analyses were performed on the three adaptive outcomes by gender to determine the relative importance of BPNs. Results: The analyses revealed that (a) competence was the most important BPN in predicting effort and well-being among both boys and girls; (b) relatedness predicted only well-being among boys, but both effort and well-being among girls; and (c) autonomy did not predict any outcomes. Conclusions: The findings highlight the importance of satisfying Hispanic children’s competence and girls’ relatedness in physical education.

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Need Support, Need Satisfaction, Intrinsic Motivation, and Physical Activity Participation among Middle School Students

Tao Zhang, Melinda A. Solmon, Maria Kosma, Russell L. Carson, and Xiangli Gu

Using self-determination theory as a framework, the purpose of this study was to test a structural model of hypothesized relationships among perceived need support from physical education teachers (autonomy support, competence support, and relatedness support), psychological need satisfaction (autonomy, competence, and relatedness), intrinsic motivation, and physical activity. Participants were 286 middle school students in the southeastern U.S. They completed previously validated questionnaires assessing their perceived need support from teachers, need satisfaction, intrinsic motivation, and physical activity. The hypothesized model demonstrated a good fit with the data (RMSEA = .08; CFI = .97; NFI = .96; GFI = .96). Need satisfaction and intrinsic motivation mediated the relationship between need support and physical activity. The constructs of perceived autonomy, competence, and relatedness represent the nutriments that facilitate students’ intrinsic motivation and ultimately positively predict students’ physical activity. The findings supported the theoretical tenets of self-determination theory.

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Parent-Reported Motivators and Barriers to Participation in a Community-Based Intervention Designed for Children With Motor Skill Difficulties: A Qualitative Program Evaluation

Kyrah K. Brown, Jerrise Smith, Tamaya N. Bailey, Gennel Ortiz, Xiangli Gu, and Priscila Tamplain

Introduction: Parents play a critical role in their child’s participation in community-based intervention programs. Yet, their perspectives remain largely overlooked in the literature. This qualitative program evaluation used social cognitive theory to understand parents’ motivators and barriers to participation in a community-based intervention program designed for children with motor skill difficulties. Method: Parents (n = 15) of children with motor skill difficulties enrolled in a community-based intervention program participated in semistructured interviews. Results: Thematic analysis revealed six motivators (child needs, satisfaction, perceived impact, affordability, design, and program culture) and three perceived barriers (parent knowledge, access, and accommodations). Discussion: Parents’ motivators and barriers reflected a combination of personal and environmental factors consistent with social cognitive theory. This study revealed novel insight into program-related environmental motivators and barriers. Program leaders should consider ongoing evaluation and application of parental perspectives to optimize family participation and retention in community-based interventions.