Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Kinesiology and Sport Studies

Major Professor

Dawn P. Coe

Committee Members

Scott E. Crouter, Eugene C. Fitzhugh, Aaron T. Buss


Physical activity has been shown to be positively associated with improved motor skill and cognitive development in young children. Intervention designs are often constructed without focus on interrelatedness of the development of motor and cognitive self-regulatory skills. Purpose: To investigate the impact of a movement-based curriculum designed to integrate both motor skill and cognitive development in preschool children. Methods: Preschool-aged children [n=34; intervention group (n=28); control group (n=6)] participated in the study. Locomotor and object control motor skills were assessed via the Test of Gross Motor Development – 3rd Edition. Cognitive self-regulation (attention, working memory, and inhibition) was assessed via the Early Years Toolbox. These assessments were completed at pre- and post-intervention time points. Perceived competence and enjoyment were assessed during the curriculum via adaptations of Harter’s Perceived Competence Scale for Children and the Physical Activity Enjoyment Scale. Multiple 2x2 repeated measures ANOVAs were run to determine the impact of the curriculum on motor skills (scaled scores) and cognitive self-regulation (accuracy and reaction time). Results: There were no differences between intervention and control groups from pre- to post-intervention for motor skill scores. There were differences in locomotor (F=4.5b, p=0.045) and object control scaled scores (F=13.1b, p=0.001) in the total group (intervention plus control groups) from pre-intervention (11.5±0.5 and 11±0.4, respectively) to post-intervention (12.3±0.4 and 12.2±0.5, respectively). There was a significant improvement in the intervention (3.1±2.4 to 4.1±2.5) compared to the control group (6.4±2.6 to 4.2±2.7) for visual working memory accuracy (F=5.15b, p=0.035). In the total group, there was a significant time effect only for the auditory working memory reaction time scores (9.5±1.1 to 7.1±0.7; F=5.9b, p=0.025). Child self-reported perceived competence and enjoyment were perceived as high throughout the program (2±2.6 out of 25, and 30.2±4.3 out of 35, respectively)]]. Conclusion: This study appears to provide preliminary evidence that supports further exploration into the dynamic and use of a jointly tailored motor and cognitive movement program.

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