Movement is how we explore our environment—an array of motor behaviors and a degree of skillfulness are required for individuals to move, function, and survive. Metaphorically speaking, Janus, the ancient Roman god, has two faces, one facing into the past and one to the future. Before engaging in future scientific endeavors, researchers should reflect on the historical work in their field to help shape future inquiry. As we continue into the 21st century, motor development research must continue its commitment to conduct translational research in practice while engaging in impactful interdisciplinary research. Areas that warrant future exploration include (a) addressing the motoric needs of special populations; (b) understanding what occurs in the brain during movement—brain–behavior interaction; (c) discovering how our environment affects motor behaviors—gene–environment interaction; (d) exploring the effect of movement across the life span and on various aspects of health—developmental health outcomes; and (e) being cognizant of research design and measurements. Many questions remain to be answered, but motor development is a field with a bright future that awaits discovery.
Leah E. Robinson
Patricia M. Lowrie and Leah E. Robinson
The continuing U.S. demographic shifts provide a substantial rationale for a corresponding transformation in the culture and climate of academic departments in higher education. In part, the response to the change is to increase the representation of people of color and others who have been historically absent from professional areas fed by the Kinesiology pipeline. However, the greater challenge is to understand and therefore, alter the internal culture. An intentional effort toward a culture of inclusion and full participation provides a working platform to transform existing practices and to cultivate policies from which emerging practices will offer opportunities for success. The understanding of the multiple identities of those within Kinesiology and the society served, the portals and gaps within the systemic architecture, and the methods of creating a multicultural organization—all play significant roles in contributing to change and transformation. Enlightened catalytic change agents must adopt new inclusive paradigms to prepare 21st century professionals with adaptive ideologies and behaviors for resolving future issues and challenges.
Jacqueline D. Goodway and Leah E. Robinson
This commentary examines the argument for early sport specialization versus sport sampling from a physical growth and motor development perspective. Three developmental frameworks are examined (Mountain of Motor Development, Developmental Model of Sport Participation, Spirals of Engagement Trajectory model) to make the case that a broad base of fundamental motor skill competence is necessary in the early years before sport specialization in the adolescent years. Early sport specialization is criticized from the standpoint of increased risk for overuse injury, concerns about long-term growth, and the fact that early and intense practice schedules often do not differentiate elite versus nonelite athletes. A strong argument is made for early sport sampling to acquire a broad base of fundamental motor skills to apply to different sports, and to allow physical maturity to develop before specializing in sport. Such an approach also better equips a child to be active across the lifespan.
E. Kipling Webster, Danielle D. Wadsworth, and Leah E. Robinson
This study examined the acute effects of a 10-min teacher-implemented classroom-based activity break (AB) on physical activity participation and time on-task in a preschool-age population. 118 (M age = 3.80 ± 0.69 years) students from one preschool served as participants. The intervention took place over 4 days: 2 days AB were conducted and 2 days typical instruction occurred. Physical activity was monitored via accelerometry and time on-task was measured by direct observation. Results demonstrated that AB led to a higher percent of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) during the AB (M = 29.7%, p > .001). Breaks also promoted more on-task behavior (F U17 = 18.86, p > .001) following the AB. Specifically, the most off-task students before the break improved on-task behavior by 30 percentage points (p > .001). Percent of school day MVPA was also higher during AB days (i 117 = 3.274, p = .001). Findings indicate teachers may improve time on-task postbreak for preschoolers with a short bout of physical activity in the classroom, especially in children who are the most off-task. In addition, classroom-based AB resulted in marginal increases in MVPA during breaks that influenced whole day activity.
E. Kipling Webster, Leah E. Robinson, and Danielle D. Wadsworth
Background: Activity breaks are an established way physical activity may be incorporated into the preschool day. The purpose of this study was to examine what factors influenced moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) during a teacher-implemented classroom-based activity break (CBAB) in a Head Start population. Methods: Ten-minute CBAB was conducted over 2 days in a quasi-experimental design; 99 preschoolers (mean age 3.80 [0.65] y; 49.5% male) from a convenience sample participated. Accelerometers measured MVPA, fundamental motor skill competency was assessed using the Test of Gross Motor Development—second edition, and weight classification status used body mass index percentiles. Results: A significant, moderate regression was found (r = .328, P = .001) between fundamental motor skill and MVPA. There was no significant correlation between body mass index percentile and MVPA during the CBAB. In addition, the locomotor subscale was the best predictor for MVPA for children during the CBAB (r = .32, β = 0.82, P < .001). Conclusions: CBAB equally elicited MVPA for normal and overweight preschoolers. Fundamental motor skill competency was associated with MVPA during the CBAB; in particular, locomotor skills were the best predictor for physical activity. Structured activity opportunities that focus on locomotor skills may be a useful integration to prompt more MVPA in a preschool-age population.
Leah E. Robinson, Kara K. Palmer, and Sean K. Meehan
This study examined the effects of three different treatment doses of a motor skill intervention (the Children’s Health Activity Motor Program [CHAMP]) on changes in preschoolers’ motor performance.
Onehundred and nine children were divided into one of four groups: control and three CHAMP dosage groups: T1, 660 min; T2, 720 min; or T3, 900 min. Motor performance was assessed before and after the intervention using the Test of Gross Motor Development, 2nd Edition (TGMD-2). We used a 2 (time) × 4 (treatment) mixed-measures ANOVA to determine interaction and main effects. Significant interactions were decomposed using separate one-way between groups ANOVAs at each time point followed by Tukey’s post hoc tests.
Results revealed a significant time × treatment interaction (F 3, 100 = 16.79; p < .001). There were no differences across treatment groups before the intervention (F 3, 100 = .075, p < .90), but after the intervention the control group had significantly lower TMGD-2 scores compared with all three CHAMP intervention groups (F 3, 100 = 9.92, p < .001, all post hoc tests, p < .001). Posttreatment differences can be attributed to greater improvements in motor performance following the CHAMP intervention regardless of specific dosage.
Motor performance scores for all children who completed CHAMP significantly improved.
Kara K. Palmer, Matthew W. Miller, and Leah E. Robinson
A growing body of research has illuminated beneficial effects of a single bout of physical activity (i.e., acute exercise) on cognitive function in school-age children. However, the influence of acute exercise on preschoolers’ cognitive function has not been reported. To address this shortcoming, the current study examined the effects of a 30-min bout of exercise on preschoolers’ cognitive function. Preschoolers’ cognitive function was assessed following a single bout of exercise and a single sedentary period. Results revealed that, after engaging in a bout of exercise, preschoolers exhibited markedly better ability to sustain attention, relative to after being sedentary (p = .006, partial eta square = .400). Based on these findings, providing exercise opportunities appears to enhance preschoolers’ cognitive function.
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.
Lisa M. Barnett, Leah E. Robinson, E. Kipling Webster, and Nicola D. Ridgers
The purpose was to determine the reliability of an instrument designed to assess young children’s perceived movement skill competence in 2 diverse samples.
A pictorial instrument assessed 12 perceived Fundamental Movement Skills (FMS) based on the Test of Gross Motor Development 2nd edition. Intra-Class Correlations (ICC) and internal consistency analyses were conducted. Paired sample t tests assessed change in mean perceived skill scores. Bivariate correlations between the intertrial difference and the mean of the trials explored proportional bias.
Sample 1 (S1) were culturally diverse Australian children (n = 111; 52% boys) aged 5 to 8 years (mean = 6.4, SD = 1.0) with educated parents. Sample 2 (S2) were racially diverse and socioeconomically disadvantaged American children (n = 110; 57% boys) aged 5 to 10 years (mean = 6.8, SD = 1.1). For all children, the internal consistency for 12 FMS was acceptable (S1 = 0.72, 0.75, S2 = 0.66, 0.67). ICCs were higher in S1 (0.73) than S2 (0.50). Mean changes between trials were small. There was little evidence of proportional bias.
Lower values in S2 may be due to differences in study demographic and execution. While the instrument demonstrated reliability/internal consistency, further work is recommended in diverse samples.
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.