|dc.description.abstract||Ecological dynamics has gained increasing acceptance as a theoretical framework in the field of motor development. This framework underpins this research programme, which postulates that humans are open, complex systems and that observed movements are self-organised movement responses. Importantly, movement responses are dependent upon the dynamic interaction between constraints and the calibration between action-capabilities and available affordances.
Developing movement competence in children is especially critical for the associated links with physical, emotional and mental health. Thus, monitoring competence levels remains a vital prerogative of the scientific community, governments and various agencies the world over. Movement competence is assessed and monitored using movement assessment batteries. Many movement assessments used today were initially developed for clinical populations. Thus, concern has been raised in the literature with its increased use for the general population of typically developing children. Specifically, concerns surround assessment tasks being too closely associated with sport-specific skills, assessment tasks being overly simplified and decontextualised. Moreover, many movement assessment batteries do not accommodate individuals from demonstrating adaptive movement responses to achieve outcome goals. Consequently, results from these assessments, may not adequately describe an individual’s general movement competence.
This programme of work set out to develop a new movement assessment tool (General Movement Competence Assessment or GMCA) and proposes a theoretically-driven definition of movement competence. The GMCA utilises sensor-less, motion-tracking technology. It consists of five customised active video games that consider the critical role that affordances play in movement responses. The primary aim of this thesis was to establish the GMCA’s validity and reliability for use as a potential tool for assessing general movement competence. Three related studies examined the various aspects of the GMCA’s reliability, validity and sensitivity in detecting developmental changes.
Study 1 examined the factorial-structure of the newly developed GMCA. The extracted factors from the exploratory factor analysis accounted for 69.4% of the variance. Study 2 tested the construct validity of the extracted model and examined correlations between GMCA performance and age. The last study, study 3, examined the responsiveness or sensitivity of the GMCA in detecting developmental changes. Collectively, results from the three empirical studies suggest that the GMCA is a valid tool that is capable of assessing, detecting and monitoring developmental changes.
This thesis has contributed novel knowledge to the field of motor development by demonstrating the potential of video game technology in the assessment of movement competence. Importantly, dexterity was established as a new independent construct in the model of movement competence. The programmability of the GMCA favours its potential as a teaching tool in motor learning and its presentation via a series of active video games is a progressive step towards the provision of dynamic assessment tasks. Video games are typically cast in a negative light by society in the face of decreasing levels of physical activity. Conversely, findings from this programme of work illustrate the feasibility of video game technology as a viable option for assessing movement competence and this emerging technology could help to turn the tide of physical inactivity amongst children.||