University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Evaluating a School Community Linked Physical Activity Intervention Programme: a Multi-level Analysis.

Griffiths, Lisa ORCID:, Griffiths, M. and Calver, Rebecca (2015) Evaluating a School Community Linked Physical Activity Intervention Programme: a Multi-level Analysis. In: ECER 2015 "Education and Transition. Contributions from Educational Research", 7th - 11th September 2015, Corvinus University, Budapest, Hungary. (Unpublished)

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Previous research has highlighted the importance of positive physical activity (PA) behaviors during childhood to promote sustained active lifestyles throughout the lifespan (Telama et al. 2005; 2014). It is in this context that the role of schools and teachers in facilitating PA education is promoted. Research suggests that teachers play an important role in the attitudes of children towards PA (Figley 1985) and schools may be an efficient vehicle for PA provision and promotion (McGinnis, Kanner and DeGraw, 1991; Wechsler, Deveraux, Davis and Collins, 2000). Yet despite consensus that schools represent an ideal setting from which to ‘reach’ young people (Department of Health and Human Services, UK, 2012) there remains conceptual (e.g. multi-component intervention) and methodological (e.g. duration, intensity, family involvement) ambiguity regarding the mechanisms of change claimed by PA intervention programmes. This may, in part, contribute to research findings that suggest that PA interventions have had limited impact on children’s overall activity levels and thereby limited impact in reducing children’s metabolic health (Metcalf, Henley & Wilkin, 2012).
A marked criticism of the health promotion field has been the focus on behavioural change while failing to acknowledge the impact of context in influencing health outcomes (Golden & Earp, 2011). For years, the trans-theoretical model of behaviour change has been ‘the dominant model for health behaviour change’ (Armitage, 2009); this model focusses primarily on the individual and the psychology of the change process. Arguably, this model is limited by the individual’s decision-making ability and degree of self-efficacy in order to achieve sustained behavioural change and does not take account of external factors that may hinder their ability to realise change. Similar to the trans-theoretical model, socio-ecological models identify the individual at the focal point of change but also emphasises the importance of connecting multiple impacting variables, in particular, the connections between the social environment, the physical environment and public policy in facilitating behavioural change (REF). In this research, a social-ecological framework was used to connect the ways a PA intervention programme had an impact (or not) on participants, and to make explicit the foundational features of the programme that facilitated positive change.
In this study, we examined the evaluation of a multi-agency approach to a PA intervention programme which aimed to increase physical activity, and awareness of the importance of physical activity to key stage 2 (age 7-12) pupils in three UK primary schools. The agencies involved were the local health authority, a community based charitable organisation, a local health administrative agency, and the city school district. In examining the impact of the intervention, we adopted a process evaluation model in order to better understand the mechanisms and context that facilitated change. Therefore, the aim of this evaluation was to describe the provision, process and impact of the intervention by 1) assessing changes in physical activity levels 2) assessing changes in the student’s attitudes towards physical activity, 3) examining student’s perceptions of the child size fitness equipment in school and their likelihood of using the equipment outside of school and 4) exploring staff perceptions, specifically the challenges and benefits, of facilitating equipment based exercise sessions in the school environment.

Methodology, Methods, Research Instruments or Sources Used
Evaluation of the intervention was designed as a matched-control study and was undertaken over a seven-month period. The school-based intervention involved 3 intervention schools (n =436; 224 boys) and one control school (n=123; 70 boys) in a low socioeconomic and multicultural urban setting. The PA intervention was separated into two phases: a motivation DVD and 10 days of circuit based exercise sessions (Phase 1) followed by a maintenance phase (Phase 2) that incorporated a PA reward program and the use of specialist kid’s gym equipment located at each school for a period of 4 wk. Outcome measures were measured at baseline (January) and endpoint (July; end of academic school year) using reliable and valid self-report measures. The children’s attitudes towards PA were assessed using the Children’s Attitudes towards Physical Activity (CATPA) questionnaire. The Physical Activity Questionnaire for Children (PAQ-C), a 7-day recall questionnaire, was used to assess PA levels over a school week. A standardised test battery (Fitnessgram®) was used to assess cardiovascular fitness, body composition, muscular strength and endurance, and flexibility. After the 4 wk period, similar kid’s equipment was available for general access at local community facilities. The control school did not receive any of the interventions. All physical fitness tests and PA questionnaires were administered and collected prior to the start of the intervention (January) and following the intervention period (July) by an independent evaluation team. Evaluation testing took place at the individual schools over 2-3 consecutive days (depending on the number of children to be tested at the school). Staff (n=19) and student perceptions (n = 436) of the child sized fitness equipment were assessed via questionnaires post-intervention. Students completed a questionnaire to assess enjoyment, usage, ease of use and equipment assess and usage in the community. A questionnaire assessed staff perceptions on the delivery of the exercise sessions, classroom engagement and student perceptions.
Conclusions, Expected Outcomes or Findings
Findings showed that both the intervention (16.4%) and control groups increased their PAQ-C score by post-intervention (p < 0.05); with the intervention (17.8%) and control (21.3%) boys showing the greatest increase in physical activity levels. At post-intervention, there was a 5.5% decline in the intervention girls’ attitudes toward PA in the aesthetic subdomains (p = 0.009); whereas the control boys had an increase in positive attitudes in the health domain (p = 0.003). No significant differences in attitudes towards physical activity were observed in any other domain for either group at post-intervention (p > 0.05). The results of the equipment questionnaire, 96% of the children stated they enjoyed using the equipment and would like to use the equipment again in the future; however at post-intervention only 27% reported using the equipment outside of school in the last 7 days. Students identified the ski walker (34%) and cycle (32%) as their favorite pieces of equipment; with the single joint exercises such as leg extension and bicep/tricep machine (<3%) as their least favorite. Key themes from staff were that the equipment sessions were enjoyable, a novel activity, children felt very grown-up, and the activity was linked to a real fitness experience. They also expressed the need for more support to deliver the sessions and more time required for each session. Findings from this study suggest that a more integrated approach within the various agencies is required, particularly more support to increase teachers pedagogical content knowledge in physical activity instruction which is age appropriate. Future recommendations for successful implementation include sufficient time period for all students to access and engage with the equipment; increased access and marketing of facilities to parents within the local community, and professional teacher support strategies to facilitate the exercise sessions.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)
Additional Information:

Transcript from the interactive poster session for the above title can be found at

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: physical activity, active lifestyles, primary school children, PA intervention programmes, physical fitness
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
Q Science > QP Physiology
Divisions: College of Business, Psychology and Sport > School of Sport and Exercise Science
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Lisa Griffiths
Date Deposited: 16 Sep 2016 15:56
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2024 14:24

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