Doctor of Philosophy
Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
The overarching purpose of this dissertation was to develop an e-Learning course in physical activity and sedentary behaviour and test its short-term efficacy and implementation among pre- and in-service early childhood educators (ECEs). The Delphi approach was adopted for Study 1, wherein a panel of international experts in physical activity and sedentary behaviour suggested topics for the course and, together with a panel of ECE experts, rated their importance. Study 2 employed a pre-post design to explore the changes in pre- and in-service ECEs’ physical activity and sedentary behaviour-related knowledge, self-efficacy, behavioural intention, and perceived behavioural control following course completion. Study 3 quantitatively and qualitatively examined the pilot implementation of the course and gathered participants’ perspectives.
In Study 1, 19 unique content areas were recommended for inclusion in the e-Learning course by 26 physical activity and sedentary behaviour experts. After pooling importance ratings with the ECE expert panel (n = 35), Outdoor Play was considered the top-rated area, while Monitor Physical Activity and Sedentary Time in Your Classroom had the lowest combined rating. Overall, inter-panel agreement of content area importance rankings was moderate-to-strong (rs = .60; 95% CI: 0.20 to 0.83).
Results from Study 2 demonstrated that the e-Learning course significantly increased pre-service (n = 32) and in-service (n = 121) ECEs’ physical activity and sedentary behaviour-related knowledge (p < .05) and barrier self-efficacy (p < .025), as well as in-service ECEs’ task self-efficacy (p < .025). In-service ECEs also exhibited significant improvements in their behavioural intention (p < .007) and perceived behavioural control (p < .007), while only certain behaviours showed significant change among pre-service ECEs.
Findings from Study 3 indicated that pre- and in-service ECEs demonstrated moderate-to-high fidelity to the e-Learning course intervention (67.6% and 62.8% completion, respectively), and communicated that they enjoyed the course. Despite reporting some challenges (e.g., technology issues, lengthy modules), participants were very pleased with the content, useability, and compatibility of the e-Learning course. In conclusion, the successful pilot implementation of the expert-developed e-Learning course provides evidence of scalability to wider populations.
Summary for Lay Audience
Early childhood educators (ECEs) are important role models in the childcare setting with respect to young children’s physical activity and sedentary behaviours. However, ECEs have reported that they receive little related education in their pre-service (i.e., post-secondary) training. Therefore, the overall purpose of this dissertation was to develop an e-Learning course in physical activity and sedentary behaviour (Study 1) and explore: a) if it could increase pre- and in-service (i.e., practicing) ECEs’ physical activity and sedentary behaviour-related knowledge, confidence, and intentions (Study 2); and, b) if participants enjoyed the course, and found it to be informative and easy to use (Study 3).
In Study 1, experts in young children’s physical activity and sedentary behaviour suggested 19 topics to include in the e-Learning course. The importance of these topics was then rated by the physical activity and sedentary behaviour experts and by a panel of ECE experts. Outdoor Play was the topic with the highest combined rating. Overall, both panels of experts agreed on the importance rankings of the topics suggested for the course.
Study 2 involved examining (via online survey) whether the e-Learning course influenced pre- and in-service ECEs’ physical activity and sedentary behaviour-related knowledge, confidence, and intentions. Findings demonstrated substantial increases in both pre- and in-service ECEs’ knowledge, confidence, and intentions; however, only certain elements of pre-service ECEs’ confidence and intentions showed significant change.
In Study 3, pre- and in-service ECEs were surveyed about their experiences with the course content and e-Learning platform, and a sample of ECEs also participated in an interview to discuss these experiences further. Both pre- and in-service ECEs expressed their enthusiasm for the course, and despite reporting some challenges (e.g., technology issues, lengthy modules), they were very pleased with its content, ease of use, and link to ECE perspectives. In conclusion, the expert-developed e-Learning course showed very positive results in a small population of pre- and in-service ECEs, which suggests that it may be a useful learning opportunity for pre-service ECEs to engage in prior to entering the ECE workforce.
Bruijns, Brianne, "The Development, Short-Term Efficacy, and Pilot Implementation of an e-Learning Course in Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour for Pre-Service Early Childhood Educators" (2021). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 8286.
Early Childhood Education Commons, Health and Physical Education Commons, Health Psychology Commons, Higher Education Commons, Maternal and Child Health Commons, Pre-Elementary, Early Childhood, Kindergarten Teacher Education Commons, Public Health Education and Promotion Commons