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Timo Jaakkola and Anthony Watt

The main purpose of the study was to analyze teaching styles used in Finnish physical education. Another aim was to investigate the relationships between background characteristics of teachers and use of teaching styles. The participants of the study were 294 (185 females and 109 males) Finnish physical education teachers. The teachers responded to an electronic questionnaire accessed through a link delivered to them by e-mail. The instrument included background information items (gender, teaching experience, education, school level, mean class size) and questions pertaining to ‘teacher use’ and ‘perceived benefits to students’ of the various teaching styles. The results of the study revealed that teachers used the command and practice styles of teaching most frequently and the self-check and convergent discovery styles least frequently. The trend was to use more teacher-centered than student-centered styles. The teachers perceived the practice and divergent production styles as most and the reciprocal and convergent discovery styles as least beneficial for their students.

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Arto Gråstén, Anthony Watt, Jarmo Liukkonen and Timo Jaakkola

Background:

The study examined the effects of school-based program on students’ self-reported moderate to vigorous physical activity and physical competence, and associated links to gender, grade, body mass index, and physical education assessments.

Methods:

Participants were 240 middle school students (143 intervention, 97 control) from 3 small cities in North-East Finland. The intervention group received task-involving climate support in physical education classes and additional physical activities during school days across 1 year.

Results:

The intervention group’s physical competence increased, whereas the control group’s competence remained stable across the period. However, physical activity levels were stable in both groups. The findings also showed that body mass index was negatively associated with physical competence and activity in the intervention group at the follow-up measure. Physical education assessments were positively related with only the baseline scores of physical competence in the intervention group. In contrast, the assessments had positive relationships with physical competence and activity of control group students.

Conclusions:

The present program was an effective protocol to increase student’s perceptions of physical competence. Since the quantity of school physical education including recess activities cannot be dramatically increased, positive learning experiences should be provided, and thus, support perceptions of physical competence.

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Kasper Salin, Mikko Huhtiniemi, Anthony Watt, Harto Hakonen and Timo Jaakkola

Background: This study examined the distribution of objectively measured physical activity (PA) and sedentary time of fifth-grade students during school, leisure time, and physical education (PE) classes. Demographic, anthropometric, and PA data were collected from 17 representative Finnish schools. Methods: To estimate the PA and sedentary time, participants (N = 592) wore wGT3X-BT ActiGraphs for 7 consecutive days. Comparisons were made between genders and different BMI groups. Results: From the study sample, 43.7% met the moderate to vigorous PA (MVPA) guidelines. Participants spent 62.2% of the day sedentary and 8.2% in moderate and vigorous activities. Boys performed more MVPA than girls, and girls were more sedentary during school days. Boys had more MVPA than girls in leisure time, but there were no differences in sedentary time. However, an examination of PA assessed during PE classes revealed no differences between boys and girls. Normal-weight boys engaged in more MVPA than overweight and obese boys. No differences were found for girls. Conclusions: The PA levels differ between different BMI groups in leisure time and during school but not during PE lessons. PA for overweight children should be targeted and compulsory PE time should be increased to achieve the PA guidelines.

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Timo Tapio Jaakkola, Arja Sääkslahti, Sami Yli-Piipari, Mika Manninen, Anthony Watt and Jarmo Liukkonen

The purpose of the study was to analyze students’ motivation in relation to their participation in fitness testing classes. Participants were 134 Finnish Grade 5 and 8 students. Students completed the contextual motivation and perceived physical competence scales before the fitness testing class and the situational motivation questionnaire immediately after the class. During the fitness test class, abdominal muscle endurance was measured by curl-up test, lower body explosive strength and locomotor skills by the five leaps test, and speed and agility by the Figure 8 running test. For the fitness testing class, students reported higher scores for intrinsic motivation, identified motivation, and amotivation than in their general physical education program. The result of the path analysis showed physical fitness was positively related to perceived physical competence. In addition, perceived competence was found to be a positive predictor of situational intrinsic motivation, but not of other forms of situational motivation. Significant path coefficients in the model ranged from −.15 to .26.

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Sami Yli-Piipari, Janne Santeri Kulmala, Timo Jaakkola, Harto Hakonen, Joseph Cole Fish and Tuija Tammelin

Background:

Schools are in a unique position to ensure that all students meet the current physical activity (PA) recommendations. This study aimed to examine 1st to 3rd grade elementary students’ accelerometer measured school day PA in the United States (U.S.) and Finland.

Methods:

The sample consisted of 200 students (107 girls, 93 boys; ages 6 to 8) and their school day PA was monitored with hip-worn ActiGraph GT3X+ accelerometers across a 5-day school week and the thresholds 100 and 2296 count per minute were used to separate sedentary time, light PA, and moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA).

Results:

On an average school day, students were engaged in MVPA for 20.0 min in the U.S. and 24.1 min in Finland. Students’ school-day MVPA was 9 to 16 minutes higher during physical education (PE) days compared with non-PE days (U.S: 25.8 vs. 16.6 min/day; Finland: 36.3 vs. 20.1 min/day). Girls had less MVPA and more sedentary time compared with boys in both samples.

Conclusion:

This study highlights both the role of PE and other school day physical activities in meeting PA guidelines. Policy measures are needed to change the structure of the school day and enhance PA to ensure that students meet the PA recommendations.

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Jarmo Liukkonen, Timo Jaakkola, Sami Kokko, Arto Gråstén, Sami Yli-Piipari, Pasi Koski, Jorma Tynjälä, Anne Soini, Timo Ståhl and Tuija Tammelin

The Finnish 2014 Report Card on Physical Activity (PA) for Children and Youth is the first assessment of Finland’s efforts in promoting and facilitating PA opportunities for children and youth using the Active Healthy Kids Canada grading system. The Report Card relies primarily on research findings from 6 Research Institutes, coordinated by the University of Jyväskylä. The Research Work Group convened to evaluate the aggregated evidence and assign grades for each of the 9 PA indicators, following the Canadian Report Card protocol. Grades from A (highest) to F (lowest) varied in Finland as follows: 1) Overall physical activity—fulfillment of recommendations (D), 2) Organized sport participation (C), 3) Active play (D), 4) Active transportation (B), 5) Sedentary behaviors (D), 6) Family and peers (C), 7) School (B), 8) Community and the built environment (B), and 9) Government (B). This comprehensive summary and assessment of indicators related to PA in Finnish children and youth indicates that Finland still has many challenges to promote a physically active life style for youth.