Perceived Physical Competence and the Physical Activity

1 January 2017

The Perceived Physical Competence Subscale for Children (PPCSC) (Harter, 1982) was modified to measure children’s perceptions of physical competence (26 self-efficacy questions). Children’s patterns of physical activity were measured by a modification to Sallis & McKenzie’s Self Administered Physical Activity Checklist (SAPAC). Each item on the PPCSC was matched with an activity on the SAPAC scale. Modifications to both scales were made as a result of pilot testing performed with the sample population. A significant positive linear relationship was found between children’s perceptions of competence and their amount of physical activity.

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Significant positive correlations were also found for a number of self-efficacy measures and the amount of time children chose to engage in these specific activities. Significant gender differences were found between boys and girls in overall perceptions of competence, as well as in a number of self-efficacy measures. Boys were typically higher is self-efficacy on most physical activities with the exception of gymnastics, dance, and jump rope. The 7th grade boys had the highest perceptions of competence, while 7th grade girls were the lowest of all four groups.

These perceptions of competence were reflected in whether children chose to participate in an activity or not. Children generally chose to engage in activities that they perceived themselves competent . There also appear to be very powerful socio-cultural influences on the types of activities that boys and girls choose (Lirgg, 1992). Girls were significantly more active in health enhancing lifetime physical activities such as walking, jogging, and bicycling, and chose activities of a lower intensity level than boys.

Contrary to the literature, this study found no significant differences in the total amount of physical activity between boys and girls. It was hypothesized that the rural setting in which this study was conducted may have influenced this outcome. No significant differences were found between grades in perceptions of competence or physical activity time. DEDICATION To my wife, Kim, and our three children, Sam, Corey, and Sierra. Without your unconditional love, enduring devotion, and tireless support I would not have been able to attain this accomplish.

Kim, you have persevered through the long nights, and hard days with very little support from me, yet you were always there to keep me going. God has surely blessed me far more than I deserve. I love you. iv ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to thank my committee chair, Dr. George Graham, for all that he has done for me. Who opened up a whole new world to me, and I will never be the same. He challenged, pushed, and nurtured me through one of the most challenging yet rewarding times in my life. I could not have been blessed with a better mentor.

Thank you for giving part of yourself to me and my family, your guidance and friendship are cherished gifts. I would also like to thank my committee members Dr. Richard Stratton, Dr. Jerry Niles, Dr. Kusum Singh, and Dr. Andy Stremmel for all of the time that you gave out of very busy schedules. Your wisdom and guidance are greatly appreciated. Every one of you contributed significantly to this great accomplishment in my life, and I am indebted to you. A special thank you to Dr. Singh for never saying ‘no’ to my requests for statistical help.

To Don and Carolyn Forsythe, who have supported me and my family throughout this entire endeavor. I cannot express my gratitude and appreciation for all that you have done. You were that piece of security that we all needed when times got tough. We knew that gramma and grampa would always be there with their love and encouragement no matter what the occasion. Sam, Corey, and Sierra my beautiful gifts from God. We made it! I always knew that I would find love and acceptance in you three. The times that we played together, fished, told stories, prayed, and just talked will always be cherished memories for me.

Children are relatively inactive for a majority of time in physical education classes (McKenzie et al. , 1996; Simons-Morton et al. , 1990; Sleap & Warburton, 1992). Reported in Healthy People 2000 , in 1983, students spent an average of 27% of physical education class time involved in physical activity (USDHHS, 1991). These conclusions are supported by researchers on children’s physical activity in physical education (Corbin, 1987; McKenzie et al. 1996; Simons-Morton et al. 1987). Sadly, physical education often has a negative effect on the physical activity levels of many children.

Physical activity levels are gradually eroded because of unpleasant experiences caused by embarrassment, pain, and failure associated with physical education (Sleap & Warburton, 1992). In one study, adult disinclination to exercise was linked to a lack of favorable physical activity during adolescence (Simons-Morton, 1987). There can be positive effects of physical education on physical activity patterns in children. Programs that make attending physical education a pleasant experience and that can explain specific benefits of exercise can influence exercise intent and can enhance students’ future exercise behavior (Ferguson et al. 1989). Sallis (1987) and others continue this line of thinking by reporting that school physical education programs must affect physical activity outside of class and over time if they are to be considered successful. Unfortunately, there is no evidence that even innovative physical education programs have been successful in improving long-term increases in physical activity. 55 The strongest reason for health related physical education, however, appears to be the prevention of CVD (McKenzie & Sallis, 1996, p. 226). This

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