Research proves importance of physical literacy professional development

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Why is this research needed?

Physical literacy is viewed by many as the building blocks for an active lifestyle and can be described as the motivation, confidence, skills and knowledge to be physically active for life. Professor Michael Rosenberg, Head of the School of Human Sciences and Director of the KIDDO program at the University of Western Australia, said that with increasing recognition that physical literacy provides a foundation for positive, lifelong physical activity experiences—this study demonstrates that, among primary school teachers, an online professional development course such as KIDDO’s Certificate of Physical Literacy can improve teachers’ knowledge and application to deliver physical literacy based programs.  “This is an exciting finding to demonstrate that a short online course that compliments available resources is an effective means for promoting physical literacy-related outcomes among primary school teachers,” Professor Rosenberg said.

Currently many primary school teachers do not understand the concept of physical literacy, which makes it very difficult for them to develop learning programs that encourage this in their students. Teachers are often confused between physical literacy and physical education. The KIDDO Certificate of Physical Literacy was developed by academics and practitioners in Australia and internationally to help develop educators’ capacity to deliver physical literacy-based programs.

The research

Researchers set out to test the benefit of an online physical literacy professional development course amongst primary school teachers’ knowledge and confidence to deliver physical literacy in class.

92 primary school teachers were assigned to one of three groups in a randomised, controlled trial:

  1. Access to online professional development and resources (intervention group)
  2. Access to online physical literacy resources only (comparison group)
  3. Standard practice (control group)

Teachers were asked to complete detailed surveys about their physical literacy knowledge and application at the start of the research and following the four-week intervention period. 

Key findings

The findings which have been published in the Psychology of Sport and Exercise Journal show that teachers who were in the professional development group had significantly higher physical literacy knowledge and application than both the comparison and control groups. Teachers who received the professional development were also more confident to deliver physical literacy, valued physical literacy more and faced fewer barriers to delivering physical literacy programs.

What does this mean?

Professor Rosenberg said that it was important to note that providing teachers with access to resources alone was not enough, and the addition of a short online professional development course could improve their confidence to incorporate physical literacy in their programs. “This is an important finding to share with those providers who develop resources and training for teachers to ensure they can be as effective as possible”.

The online professional development program being evaluated in the current study was the Australian KIDDO Certificate of Physical Literacy program. KIDDO is a popular nationwide program that provides professional development, resources and programs for early childhood educators, coaches and parents. Over 1640 educators have completed the Certificate of Physical Literacy since its launch in 2019. “We can now more confidently say that this course is having an impact on teachers’ confidence to deliver programs that encourage physical literacy in children. This helps us encourage teachers to complete the course to get the best out of the available KIDDO resources,” said Professor Rosenberg.

Read the full research paper HERE