Presentation at the 2014 Active Living Research Annual Conference.
Background and Purpose
A whole-of-school approach, such as Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program (CSPAP), continues to be endorsed as a promising way to increase the daily physical activity (PA) levels of children via five integral components: (a) physical education, (b) PA during school, (c) PA before/after school, (d) staff involvement and (e) family/community engagement. In 2012, the National Association for Sport and Physical Education [NASPE] created a professional development (PD) program to equip current teachers with the knowledge, skills and confidence to spearhead the implementation of at least one new school PA program beyond the CSPAP component of physical education. Understanding the PA influence of having a trained PA champion in schools with the greatest risk of obesity can provide timely evidence for the effectiveness and utility of similar training efforts nationwide.
The purpose of this quasi-experimental, cluster non-randomized controlled study was to evaluate the impact of the CSPAP PD program on changes in the school PA levels of underserved 9-14 year-old children for one academic year post training.
A stratified sample of 16 certified full-time elementary (n = 9) and middle school (n = 7) teachers of high poverty (72% free and reduced lunch) and minority (81% African American) students were allocated to either a full treatment (n = 7, CSPAP trained in summer 2012 plus customized PD assistance), partial treatment (n = 4, CSPAP trained in summer 2012 only), or waitlist control (n = 5, CSPAP trained in summer 2013) group based on teaching experience and gender. Teachers recruited a random sample of students (M = 25) from their entire rosters of 9-14 year olds resulting in a total of 351 participating children (130 full treatment, 108 partial treatment, 113 waitlist control) who wore accelerometers for 2-5 consecutive school days during fall 2012 (baseline) and spring 2013 (post). Teachers and students completed weekly logs describing the types and timing of PA opportunities during each data collection period. The primary PA outcomes that served as the dependent variables were: (a) percentage of time spent in PA, (b) percentage of time spent in moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA), and (c) percentage of time spent in sedentary behavior over the five day period. The independent variables were the conditions of waitlist control, partial treatment, and full treatment.
Of the 351 sampled children, 298 had full baseline/post data sets on all study variables. ANOVA revealed no significant differences between the partial and full treatment groups with regard to portion of time spent in PA (p = .76), MVPA (p = .63), and sedentary behavior (p = .63). Accordingly, the treatment conditions of full and partial were collapsed for the remaining analyses. ANOVA results revealed that all post PA mean values (e.g., Mcontrol = 20.00%, SD = 0.09; Mtreatment = 21.06%, SD = 0.05) were significantly lower than the pre PA mean values (e.g., Mcontrol = 26.32%, SD = 0.02; Mtreatment = 23.46%, SD = 0.05, p < .001). However, MANOVAs revealed [F(1, 297) = 28.95; p <.001; R2adjusted = .09] that the total proportion of children’s PA time in schools with a partially or fully CSPAP trained teacher was significantly higher than children with a non-CSPAP trained teacher. This finding was also true for the proportion of time spent in MVPA, F(1, 297) = 23.96, p < .001; R2adjusted = .08. The portion of time dedicated to sedentary behavior significantly decreased in children housed in schools with either a full or partial treatment teacher compared to control teachers, F(1, 297) = 28.00, p < .001, R2adjusted = .09.
Although all participating students significantly declined in the total amount of PA and MVPA over the school year, perhaps because of weather or mandated testing schedules, students taught by full or partial treatment teachers participated in significantly more PA and MVPA and significantly less sedentary behavior than the students taught by control teachers as a result of the increased number of PA opportunities offered by the CSPAP PD. These findings are encouraging, but effect sizes were small. We believe follow-up data may reveal differences between students in schools with a partial and full treatment teacher as some of the full effects of teacher's effort may not be observed until year 2 and 3 of CSPAP implementation.
Implications for Practice and Policy
This study provides preliminary evidence for the effectiveness of PD programs on improving school PA. We hope this work provides further evidence to advance the development and impact of national training efforts underway surrounding school PA champions (e.g., Physical Activity Leader). Consequently, it is our expectation that this research will inform policy decisions related to CSPAP implementation and its implications for evidence-based PD and increased student PA levels in schools.
Support / Funding Source
This research was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Active Living Research Building Evidence to Prevent Childhood Obesity Rapid Response Grant, Round 3.