Article Critique evaluate the effect of physical literacy on children

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The Physical Educator
Vol. 73 • pp. 745–756 • 2016
https://doi.org/10.18666/TPE-2016-V73-I4-6570
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
Effect of Body Composition,
Physical Activity, and Aerobic
Fitness on the Physical Activity
and Fitness Knowledge of
At-Risk Inner-City Children
Timothy A. Brusseau, Ryan D. Burns, James C. Hannon
Abstract
SHAPE America has highlighted the importance of developing
physically literate children as part of quality physical education programming. Unfortunately, most children know little about physical
activity and health-related fitness. The purpose of this study was to
examine the physical activity and fitness content knowledge of at-risk
inner-city children and determine if students who accumulate more
physical activity, do more PACER laps, and/or have a lower BMI have
higher levels of knowledge. Participants included 569 inner-city children (300 girls, 269 boys) from the Southwest USA who completed
the PE Metrics knowledge test, wore a pedometer for 1 school week,
completed the PACER test, and had their height and weight measured.
Two-way and three-way factorial ANOVA tests were used to examine potential differences between genders, between grades, and among
tertiles of physical activity and health-related fitness performance on
the PE Metrics knowledge test. On average, students scored 38% on
the PE Metrics knowledge test. Boys and girls scored similarly, sixth
Timothy A. Brusseau is assistant professor, Department of Health, Kinesiology, and
Recreation, University of Utah. Ryan D. Burns is postdoctoral research associate,
Department of Health, Kinesiology, and Recreation, University of Utah. James C. Hannon
is professor, Department of Coaching and Teaching Studies, West Virginia University.
Please send author correspondence to tim.brusseau@utah.edu
745
graders scored lower than fourth and fifth graders, and children who
were in the low and high BMI tertiles scored higher than children in
the medium tertile (p < 0.05). As school day step counts and PACER laps increased, knowledge scores trended higher. At-risk youth need additional opportunities to learn content knowledge related to physical activity and fitness. Increased physical activity and aerobic fitness were related to small increases in knowledge scores. Future interventions should focus on child behavior and knowledge. One of the objectives of physical education programs is to develop physically literate children who possess the knowledge and skills to participate in activity for a lifetime (Society of Health and Physical Educators, 2013). Knowledge about physical activity (PA) and physical fitness has been highlighted as important for individuals to be active for a lifetime (Zhu, Safarit, & Cohen, 1999). Studies have suggested that children do not have the requisite knowledge needed to adopt healthy behaviors (Desmond, Price, Smith, Smith, & Stewart, 1990; Hopple & Graham, 1995; Keating, Chen, Guan, Harrison, & Dauenhauer, 2009; Liang et al., 1993; Prewitt et al., 2015). More specifically, Kulinna (2004) examined this in an elementary school with the use of health-related knowledge portfolio tasks. The author discovered that the students lacked strong content knowledge; for example, more than 50% of the third to sixth grade students were unable to list four aerobic activities. Brusseau, Kulinna, and Cothran (2011) further examined students’ knowledge using similar portfolio tasks with two American Indian communities. Students completed health-related fitness and PA behavior portfolio tasks, and the results indicated that students across all grade levels held many misconceptions and misunderstandings of these concepts. Furthermore, researchers found that only 7% of third grade students were able to describe why PA is important. More recently, Hodges, Hodges Kulinna, and Lee (2014) found that the average score for over 700 suburban fifth graders was under 50% on the PE Metrics (National Association for Sport and Physical Education [NASPE], 2010) PA and fitness test. The evidence on students’ lack of knowledge is disappointing given that these findings have been evident for 2 decades (Hopple & Graham, 1995). Spiegel and Foulk (2006) suggested that knowledge of PA behaviors can be the foundation that encourages people to engage in 746 Body Composition, Physical Activity, and Aerobic Fitness more PA throughout their lifetimes. This was found to contain some validity, as other researchers have found that individuals engaging in more activity during leisure time had greater knowledge (Dale, Corbin, & Cuddihy, 1998; DiLorenzo, Stucky-Ropp, Vander Wal, & Gotham, 1998). DiLorenzo et al. (1998) discovered that exercise knowledge is one of a few key determinants to students’ PA participation. Furthermore, conceptual-based physical education (CPE),
a model that teaches health knowledge in the classroom partnered
with PA opportunities, has also been found to influence PA patterns
positively during leisure time (Dale et al., 1998). More specifically,
they reported that after a yearlong CPE program, secondary students
significantly increased their PA levels when compared to students
with both traditional PE and control students. Therefore, to date
the literature has begun to suggest that if students gain additional
knowledge, they often engage in more PA. Despite this, little effort
has been made to explore the relationship, if any, between knowledge
and body composition or aerobic fitness. Therefore, the purpose of
this manuscript was to determine if PA patterns (steps counts), aerobic fitness (PACER), or BMI had an effect on the fitness and PA
content knowledge of ethnically diverse elementary school children
from low-income and inner-city families. It was hypothesized that
children who accumulated more steps, had higher PACER scores,
and lower BMI would score better on the PE Metrics fitness and PA
knowledge test. A secondary purpose was to explore differences on
PE Metrics performance by grade and gender.
Method
Participants
Participants were 569 (300 girls, 269 boys) fourth to sixth grade
students from three inner-city Title 1 schools. Ninety-four percent
of participating youth came from low-income (83% free and 11%
reduced lunch) families, and the sample was 86% ethnic minority
—63% Hispanic, 14% Caucasian, 7% Pacific Islander, 6% Black, 5%
Asian, 3% American Indian, and 2% multiracial.
Instruments
Physical activity and physical fitness knowledge test. SHAPE
America endorses the PE Metrics (NASPE, 2010) test, which was
Brusseau, Burns, Hannon
747
used to examine PA and physical fitness knowledge in this study.
The instrument has been suggested as a valid and reliable assessment
tool (Dyson & Williams, 2012; Zhu et al., 2011) and has been used in
research (Hodges et al., 2014) with this age group. More specifically,
the research team used the Standards 3 and 4 fifth grade test that
contained 28 multiple-choice questions, of which 15 were randomly
selected to fit the time frame for testing the children at the beginning
of a physical education class.
Pedometers. PA was measured using Yamax DigiWalker CW600
pedometers (Tokyo, Japan). The devices were worn for 5 school days
(Monday through Friday) between the hours of 8 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Instruments were worn on the hip at the level of the iliac crest above
the knees on the right hip. Classroom teachers, physical educators,
and members of the research team ensured that the devices were
worn the entire school day.
The pedometers included a 7-day memory that was used to record steps each day of the school week. Yamax DigiWalker models
have been shown to provide an accurate recording of steps within
± 3% of actual steps (Schneider, Crouter, Lukajic, & Bassett, 2003),
and have been shown to be a valid measure of free-living PA (Crouter,
Schneider, Karbulut, & Bassett, 2003).
Health-related fitness. BMI was calculated using standard procedures taking a student’s weight in kilograms divided by the square
or his or her height in meters. Height was measured to the nearest
0.01 m using a portable stadiometer (Seca 213; Hanover, MD, USA),
and weight was measured to the nearest 0.1 kg using a portable medical scale (BD-590; Tokyo, Japan). Height and weight were collected
in the hallway during each student’s physical education class.
Aerobic fitness was measured using the 20-m Progressive Aerobic
Cardiovascular Endurance Run (PACER), administered during each
student’s physical education class. The PACER was conducted on
a marked gymnasium floor with background music provided by a
compact disc. Each student was instructed to run from one floor
marker to another floor marker across a 20-m distance within an allotted time frame. The allotted time given to reach the specified distance incrementally shortened as the test progressed. If the student
twice failed to reach the other floor marker, the test was terminated
(Meredith & Welk, 2010). The final score was recorded in laps.
748
Body Composition, Physical Activity, and Aerobic Fitness
Procedures
During three consecutive weeks during the winter of 2015, research team members worked with physical education teachers to
collect PACER scores and height and weight during class. Half the
class completed the PACER with one research team member, and the
other half played a game with the physical education teacher, with
students being called out to have their height and weight measured.
Approximately halfway through class, the groups switched stations
(no order effect was found between students who tested first and
students who tested second). During a separate class, members of
the research team administered the knowledge assessment test following a specific protocol during which each question and answer
was read to the students, with an approximately 20–30-s wait time
for each question.
Analyses
BMI, PACER, and pedometer steps were stratified into tertiles of
approximately equal number. The preliminary descriptive analysis
included running a 2 × 3 factorial ANOVA test to examine the differences between genders and among grade levels on PA, health-related
fitness, and the PE Metrics knowledge test scores. The alpha level
was adjusted using the Bonferroni method to account for analysis
on multiple dependent variables. The primary analysis consisted of a
3 × 3 × 3 factorial ANOVA test to examine differences among tertiles
of BMI, PACER, and pedometer steps on the PE Metrics knowledge
scores. A Tukey post hoc test was employed for any statistically significant main effects from the three-way ANOVA. All analyses had
an initial alpha level of p = 0.05 and were carried out using STATA
(14.0) statistical software package (College Station, TX, USA).
Results
On average, students scored 38% on the PE Metrics knowledge
test. Table 1 highlights the means and standard deviations on the PE
Metrics knowledge test (raw score out of 15) by gender, grade level,
and tertile groupings for PA and health-related fitness. A statistically significant main effect was found for grade level on knowledge
test scores, F(2, 180) = 3.89, p = 0.02. Tukey post hoc tests revealed
that children in Grades 4 and 5 scored higher on the knowledge test
Brusseau, Burns, Hannon
749
compared to children in Grade 6. A statistically significant main effect was also found for BMI on PA knowledge, F(2, 180) = 3.64, p =
0.03. Post hoc tests revealed that children in the high BMI tertile and
children in the low BMI tertile scored higher on the PA knowledge
test compared to children in the medium BMI tertile. No other main
effects were found, but there were trends that children with higher PACER scores and who accumulated higher step counts scored
higher on the PE Metrics knowledge test.
Table 1
Knowledge Scores by Gender, Grade, Physical Activity, Aerobic
Fitness, and BMI
Category
Gender
Male
Female
Combined
Grade
4
5
6*
School Step Counts
High
Medium
Low
PACER Laps
High
Medium
Low
BMI
High
Medium*
Low
Knowledge
score
SD
95% CI
5.69
5.83
5.77
3.34
2.84
3.06
5.29, 6.09
5.51, 6.15
5.52, 6.02
6.02
6.07
4.34
2.99
2.99
3.10
5.59, 6.45
5.64, 6.50
3.90, 4.78
5.75
5.57
5.22
2.68
2.98
2.73
5.37, 6.12
5.15, 5.99
4.83, 5.60
5.82
5.75
5.41
3.11
3.36
2.7
5.38, 6.46
5.27, 6.22
5.03, 5.79
6.31
4.93
6.13
3.07
2.93
3.09
5.87, 6.75
4.72, 5.14
5.91, 6.35
*Significantly different when compared to other groups.
750
Body Composition, Physical Activity, and Aerobic Fitness
Discussion
Similar to children in previous research (Brusseau, Kulinna, &
Cothran, 2011; Kulinna, 2004), the children in this study lacked
overall content knowledge. In fact, the average score was 38.5%.
These scores are lower than those in the previous study in which PE
Metrics was used (Hodges et al., 2014) and indicate lower knowledge when compared across other studies (Hopple & Graham, 1995;
Kulinna, 2004). These scores are concerning, especially considering
the lack of PA in low-income inner-city youth (Trost et al., 2013).
Although we know that PA decreases with age and grade, we anticipated that as students advanced in grade, they would have performed better on the knowledge test simply by accumulating more
knowledge over time. We found that fourth and fifth graders performed similarly on the test and sixth graders scored significantly
lower compared to the earlier grades, which we believe might be related to the sixth graders feeling they were “too cool” to take the test
and not taking it as seriously as the younger students did. There were
no significant differences by gender, which is similar to results in
previous research (Brusseau, Kulinna, & Cothran, 2011). This is important because the literature (Harmon, Brusseau, Collier, & Lenz,
2013) makes it clear that inner-city ethnic minority boys at this age
are more active than girls. Furthermore, boys outperformed girls on
the PACER, which correlates to previous studies of aerobic fitness in
at-risk youth (Brusseau, Finkelstein, Kulinna, & Pangrazi, 2014). It
appears as if knowledge does not help to alleviate the natural gender
difference in PA or aerobic fitness, as boys were more active and fit in
the current sample (5,194 steps and 40.3 PACER laps for boys; 4,498
steps and 34.4 PACER laps for girls; ? = 696 steps, ? = 5.9 laps). Our
findings suggest that knowledge is not dependent on either grade or
gender. It is important to note that these three schools did not offer
any type of health education and that this content (health-related
fitness and PA) was not directly covered in academic subjects, although science classes did cover material related to the health of
the human body. Furthermore, physical education was a traditional
model that only met 1 day/week. Because of the time constraints, the
physical education paraprofessionals focused exclusively on trying
to get children active during class. Another potential issue is that
classes were taught by paraprofessionals. Research has started to inBrusseau, Burns, Hannon
751
dicate that classes taught by nonspecialists result in less PA (Hannon,
Destani, McGladrey, Williams, & Hill, 2013) and in more time managing children (Hall, Larson, Heinemann, & Brusseau, 2015). It appears to be important for schools (especially inner-city schools) to
find a way to incorporate content knowledge related to PA and fitness.
Of importance to our findings were the small (but not significant) trends that the more active the child, the better he or she performed on the knowledge test. We anticipated these findings; however, we would have expected a much larger change score. Out of 15
questions, the difference between the low active group and the high
active group was only a half question. These findings contradict the
previous explorations, suggesting increased knowledge is related to
significantly increased PA (i.e., DiLorenzo et al., 1998).
Similar to the step count trends with knowledge, knowledge
slightly increased with increases in PACER laps. This change again
was small, < .5 question. To our knowledge, this is the first study to look at differences in fitness content knowledge in comparison to actual aerobic fitness. Aerobic fitness is an important component for the health (Janssen & LeBlanc, 2010) and the cognition (Chaddock-Heyman, Hillman, Cohen, & Kramer, 2014) of children, and we suggest that improved knowledge of this concept can only help with changing the needed behavior. Body composition did not relate to increases in knowledge, which differs from the role that body composition has in the literature in which both PA (Brusseau, Kulinna, Tudor-Locke, et al., 2011) and physical fitness (Stratton et al., 2007) improve when children’s BMI decreases. This might be associated with the overall increases in BMI (Ogden, Carroll, Kit, & Flegal, 2012) in youth and the concept that youth can be fat and fit (Hainer, Toplak, & Stich, 2009). Future research needs to replicate our work with children from different ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds to help make the findings more generalizable. Similarly, it is clear that content knowledge needs to be targeted in research and practical programming in schools to address the concerning findings of our work. 752 Body Composition, Physical Activity, and Aerobic Fitness Conclusion In conclusion, at-risk inner-city children in this sample lacked
PA and fitness knowledge. Although the lack of knowledge is not
new, the low scores compared to those in previous research is especially alarming considering that these children often lack the access
and opportunity to become physically active, which have been consistently shown as barriers to activity (Sallis, Prochaska, & Taylor,
2000). Increased opportunities for PA and improved knowledge
should be considered when planning future interventions.
References
Brusseau, T. A., Finkelstein, T., Kulinna, P. H., & Pangrazi, C. (2014).
Health-related fitness of American Indian youth. Research
Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 85, 257–261. https://doi.org/10.
1080/02701367.2014.893050
Brusseau, T. A., Kulinna, P. H., & Cothran, D. J. (2011). Physical
activity content knowledge of Native American children. The
Physical Educator, 68, 66–77.
Brusseau, T. A., Kulinna, P. H., Tudor-Locke, C., Ferry, M.,
van der Mars, H., & Darst, P. W. (2011). Pedometer-determined
segmented physical activity patterns of fourth- and fifth-grade
children. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 8(2), 279.
https://doi.org/10.1123/jpah.8.2.279
Chaddock-Heyman, L., Hillman, C. H., Cohen, N. J., & Kramer, A. F.
(2014). III. The importance of physical activity and aerobic fitness
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Crouter, S. E., Schneider, P. L., Karabulut, M., & Bassett, D. R. (2003).
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MSS.0000078932.61440.A2
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Hainer, V., Toplak, H., & Stich, V. (2009). Fat or fit: What is more

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