Exploring the processes and outcomes of the initial phase of a mutually-beneficial children's physical activity and development internship program


Physical activity (PA) programs in early-learning settings enhance children's PA opportunities and motor skills. After relationship-building with a local social service organization, undergraduate interns worked directly with teachers and children (2.5–4 years) to design and implement relevant lessons that foster children's PA opportunities, and physical/motor, social, emotional, and cognitive skills. They also created co-learning environments to facilitate teacher and intern professional development. The research purpose of this community-based participatory research project phase was to explore the processes and outcomes of co-creating and implementing a mutually-beneficial children's PA and development internship program. Over 20 weeks, three interns completed 36 logs of planning and implementation. Three interns, two directors, and two teachers completed one post-program interview each (M = 38 minutes). A qualitative content analysis revealed strategies for lesson planning, group engagement, and co-identifying goals. Strategies for implementing frequent and fun lessons, and simple and direct tasks based on the group's learning goals were shared. There was a pre-post Physical Education Teaching Efficacy Scale score increase in teachers' and interns' overall PE efficacy, t(3) = 3.13, p = .052, and efficacy to apply scientific knowledge to teaching, t(3) = 4.26, p = .024. Teachers and interns observed an improvement in children's PA participation and provided context for and examples of improved PE efficacy. Teachers benefited from additional ideas, knowledge, and assistance. Interns gained an understanding of how to engage with children in a movement setting. Lessons learned, next phases, and knowledge that can be translated to other contexts will be discussed.

Acknowledgments: Grant-in-Aid Program, Indiana University Kokomo