Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Kinesiology

Document Type



The purpose of this dissertation study was (a) to characterize middle school students’ levels of physical literacy (PL) and PL domains by gender, grade, socioeconomic status (SES), weight status, race, and ethnicity; and (b) to capture PL trajectory change as a result of receiving a theory-informed pedagogical workshop. Participants (N = 350) in sixth and seventh grades were recruited from a public middle school located in a southeastern U.S. state. These students completed the second version of the Canadian Assessment of Physical Literacy (CAPL-2). A subsample (n = 49) received a pedagogical workshop (four sessions over eight weeks), participated in two focus-group interviews (pre and post workshop), and completed the CAPL-2 upon intervention. Demographic data were collected using questionnaire, while weight and height were collected using stadiometer and weight scale to calculate body mass index (BMI) percentile. I found (a) gender-based differences in PL (favor boys; d = 0.29), cognitive (favor girls; d = 0.35), physical (favor boys; d = 0.59), and affective domains (favor boys; d = 0.32); (b) grade-based differences in cognitive (favor seventh grade; d = 0.32) and physical (favor sixth grade; d = 0.33) domains; (c) SES-based differences in PL (d = 0.52), cognitive (d = 0.33), and behavioral (d = 0.63) domains, all favoring high SES group; (d) BMI-based differences in PL (d = 0.68), physical (d = 0.90), and affective (d = 0.40) domains, all favoring normal BMI group; and (e) race-based differences in cognitive (d = 0.44) and behavioral (d = 0.78) domains all favoring White. The subsample, after workshop intervention, showed improvement in PL, and cognitive and affective domains (d: 0.29 – 0.42) as assessed by CAPL-2. Interview data delineated a positive trend of PL change by virtue of physical activity type and intensity, perceived motives, and barriers of physical activity participation. The findings of this study bear significant implications for future PL interventions. PL is a dynamic state that can be improved across populations through purposeful PE curriculum and instruction.

Committee Chair

Chen, Senlin