Early childhood educator outcomes from online professional development for physical literacy: A randomised controlled trial

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Introduction: Early childhood is recognised as a critical window of opportunity for physical literacy development, however early childhood educators typically lack the training required to effectively provide appropriate physical literacy opportunities for children. We examined the effects of an online physical literacy professional development program—relative to continuing with ‘standard’ practice—on early childhood educators’ physical literacy knowledge and application. Methods: We conducted a parallel two-arm randomised controlled trial, in which 88 early childhood educators were randomly assigned to an online professional development program designed to support educators’ physical literacy instructional skills (intervention arm; n = 37), or a ‘standard practice’ control condition (n = 51). Data were collected prior to and after the four-week intervention period. We measured educators’ physical literacy knowledge and application (our primary outcome) through independent coding of open-ended survey responses, and educators’ self-reported perceptions of values, confidence, behaviours, and barriers (secondary outcomes). Between-group differences were assessed through analysis of covariance. Results: One intervention arm participant withdrew from the study, resulting in 87 participants included in analysis. Educators in the intervention arm scored significantly higher on post-intervention physical literacy knowledge (d = 0.62) and application (d = 0.33) than those in the control arm. Educators in the intervention arm also scored significantly higher than controls on confidence in teaching physical activity (d = 0.42) and significantly lower than controls on perceived personal barriers to physical activity (d = 0.53). Thirteen participants in the intervention arm (36%) did not begin the online professional development program. Conclusion: Improvements in physical literacy instructional outcomes indicate the potential for further investigation into broader implementation of online professional development programs of this nature in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102464
JournalPsychology of Sport and Exercise
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


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