Research shows that a considerable group of children and youth associate physical activity and movement in school with negative experiences, and not with something that contributes to well-being and joy of movement. This may reduce the younger generations motivation for future engagement in physical activity and lead to lower self-esteem and beliefs in own abilities. Development of methods, to integrate physical activity and movement in the school day to improve well-being among all pupils, is needed.
Move for Well-being in Schools is grounded in a solid theoretical approach - in particular to the area of motivation as construed by Edward Deci and Richard Ryan in their self-determination theory (SDT). According to Deci and Ryan human motivation is essentially based on three innate psychological needs: competence, autonomy and relatedness. The SDT's distinction between self-determined or autonomous and controlled types of motivation reflects individual reasons for participating in activities. Move for Well-being in Schools is therefore designed to meet these three psychological needs in order to motivate all pupils.
A four-phased program
The research program consists of four phases; a design phase, a pilot testing phase, a randomized controlled trial phase and a program evaluation phase.
In the design phase, prior knowledge in the field was identified through a systematic literature search of national and international publications, and by reviewing experiences from related, primarily national, intervention studies. Based on this compiled knowledge, the program was developed in cooperation with a Project Development Group made up of researchers, school managers, teachers, pedagogues, and organizations dealing with school sport and physical education - in order to incorporate professional and/or practice-based expertise and knowledge in the final intervention design. In the pilot phase, four schools tested and evaluated selected elements of the proposed intervention components. In the randomized controlled trial phase, a total of 24 schools participated as either intervention or control unit. The intervention period lasted for the full school year 2015/2016 (10 months) and comprised both process- and effect measurements. The collected data will be analysed and results published during the evaluation phase running to the end of 2017.
The intervention is adapted and delivered by educators and school managers, which ensures that the findings and experiences are particularly relevant for practice. The intervention program features three main components targeting four settings for school-based physical activity (physical education classes, in-class-activities, recess activities and theme days):
- A Competency Development Program providing enrolled educators with tailored knowledge and skills to carry out differentiated instruction and teaching activities, with the aim of supporting pupil motivation for and engagement in school-based PA.
- A tailored program, including educational materials, planning guides and course plans for incorporating PA throughout the school day, and a website.
- A local Coordination Group on all participating schools, who will guide and support the implementation and motivation in the school.
The design of the research program secures a valid and reliable way to evaluate a complex intervention – delivering qualified answers to questions like: Did the intervention go as planned; what actually happened; and was the intervention effective in improving the psychosocial well-being of the target population? On top of the effectiveness issue, the program evaluation provides insight into how the intervention was delivered, what barriers and opportunities it created for e.g. educators and school management, and how the pupils perceived the intervention. Furthermore, the research program takes into account the various school contexts in which the intervention is implemented in e.g. a schools physical environment, values, and culture. In this respect, ensuring a high degree of involvement by the participating teachers, pedagogues, pupils, and school management is crucial. The intervention approach is similar for all participating school, yet the activities and initiatives put in practice may vary from school to school.
The Research Programme is funded by the Danish Foundation TrygFonden, and is a part of Trygfonden’s Centre for Child Research.