The design, development, implementation and evaluation of Project FLAME: a multi-component, school-based, motor competence intervention for adolescent youth in Ireland

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Lester, Diarmuid
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University College Cork
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Research Projects
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Background: Recent research has shown that Irish adolescent youth are insufficiently active and fail to reach basic levels of fundamental movement skills (FMS) and functional movement. Schools and the engagement of relevant stakeholders, particularly qualified Physical Education (PE) specialist teachers, are key vehicles for the provision of movement-based opportunities in youth. The purpose of the first phase of this research was to gather cross-sectional data on adolescent youth, differentiated by gender and grade across the first three years (Junior Cycle) of post-primary education, specifically to inform the development a multi-component, school-based motor competence intervention entitled Project FLAME (Fundamental and Functional Literacy for Activity and Movement Efficiency). The second phase of the research aimed to evaluate if Project FLAME can improve FMS and functional movement in adolescent youth. Methods: Cross-sectional data, as part of the first phase of the research, were collected on adolescents (N = 219; mean age: 14.45 ± 0.96 years), within two, mixed gender schools. Primary outcome measures were consistent in both phases of the research and included the assessment of ten FMS (including locomotor and object control subsets) in conjunction with the observable, behavioural components from three established testing batteries, namely the Test of Gross Motor Development (TGMD), TGMD-2, and the Get Skilled: Get Active manual, as well as the seven tests within the Functional Movement Screen (FMS™). The Project FLAME intervention included four major components, specifically the i) specialist Physical Education (PE) teacher component, ii) kinaesthetic classroom component, iii) student component and iv) digital literacy component. Using a non-randomized controlled trial as part of the second phase of the research, a target sample of 363 participants (56% male, mean age: 14.04 ± 0.89 years old) were recruited from three mixed-gender, sub-urban schools (two intervention; one control) in Cork, Ireland, for baseline data collection, followed by a 13-week consecutive intervention roll out, and post-test data collection. Linear mixed models were used to assess the effect of the intervention with two main effects, treatment and time, and their interaction. Analyses were adjusted for participants’ gender, age, grade and BMI score. Results: Based on the results from the cross-sectional data, levels of actual mastery within FMS and functional movement were low, with significant gender and age-related differences observed. Following the implementation of the Project FLAME non-randomized controlled trial, significant intervention effects across time were observed, with the greatest improvements evident for overall gross FMS (p = .002). Discussion: Findings from the first phase of the research suggested that developing a multi-component, school-based intervention was a strategic step that could improve the observed low levels of adolescent FMS and functional movement. The Project FLAME intervention was successful at improving adolescent overall FMS gross motor competence, resulting in significant treatment-time interactions. A whole-school approach emphasising FMS and functional movement, which include developmentally appropriate activities, and the concurrent involvement of specialist PE, and non-specialist PE teachers appears effective for developing motor competence in adolescent youth.
FMS , Motor development , Motor competence , Fundamental movement skills , Functional movement screen , Physical education , Physical literacy , Physical activity , Intervention , School-based , Secondary school , Post-primary , Education , Adolescence , Adolescents , Adolescent , Health , Gender , Age , Whole-school approach , Teacher , Multi-component
Lester, D. P. 2020. The design, development, implementation and evaluation of Project FLAME: a multi-component, school-based, motor competence intervention for adolescent youth in Ireland. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.