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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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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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Xiangli Gu, Senlin Chen and Xiaoxia Zhang

The purpose of this study was to examine the associations between fundamental motor skills (FMS; including locomotor and object-control skills), moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), and sedentary behavior among young Hispanic and non-Hispanic children. Using the prospective research design spanning one academic school year, we recruited 671 children (6.96 ± 1.6 years, 46% girls) from four primary schools in North Texas, 300 of whom were Hispanic and 371 non-Hispanic children, with 90% of the Hispanic and 74% of the non-Hispanic children from low-income families. All participants completed the PE Metrics FMS assessment and wore Actical accelerometers. Hispanic children demonstrated a lower level of MVPA on school days than their non-Hispanic peers. After adjusting for sociodemographic variables, both locomotor and object-control skills significantly predicted school-based MVPA for the non-Hispanic groups, while only object-control skills significantly predicted MVPA for the Hispanic group. For both ethnic groups, locomotor skills significantly predicted school-based sedentary behavior. The findings shed light on future motor competence–based interventions for physical activity promotion and obesity prevention among young Hispanic as well as non-Hispanic children.

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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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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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Xiaoxia Zhang, Xiangli Gu, Tao Zhang, Priscila Caçola and Jing Wang

Purpose: Using 2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) National Youth Fitness Survey data, the authors conducted a cross-sectional secondary analysis to examine the associations of movement behaviors (ie, physical activity [PA] and screen-based sedentary behaviors) and fundamental motor skills (FMS) with fitness (ie, muscular fitness) and fatness (ie, body mass index and waist circumference) in 3- to 5-year-old children. The effect of ethnicity (Hispanic vs non-Hispanic) on these associations was also examined. Methods: A total of 352 children (173 girls; mean age = 4.02 y) from the 2012 NHANES data set were included. Parents reported their child’s PA and screen-based sedentary behaviors. FMS (ie, locomotor and object control) were assessed with the Test of Gross Motor Development, 2nd edition. Other variables used were body mass index, waist circumference, and plank. Results: Hispanic children demonstrated lower levels of PA than non-Hispanic children (P < .05). Children’s FMS emerged as significant predictors of muscular fitness and waist circumference, but not for body mass index in the Hispanic group. In the non-Hispanic group, FMS (ie, object control skills) and PA accounted for significant variances of muscular fitness and waist circumference, respectively. Conclusion: The associations of movement behaviors and FMS with fitness and fatness are different between Hispanic and non-Hispanic young children. Changes in policy or early childhood curriculum may be tailed to promote FMS for an impact on fitness and fatness in both Hispanic and non-Hispanic children.

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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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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.