The Relationship Between Perceived Physical Competence and the Physical Activity Patterns of Fifth and Seventh Grade Children
Bell, Kenneth W.
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This study examined the relationship between the perceptions of physical competence and patterns of physical activity of 83 5th and 7th grade children in one school in rural southwest Virginia. Gender and grade level differences in perceptions of competence and physical activity patterns were also investigated. 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. 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.
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