Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Faculty of Education


Recent findings indicate that the proportion of secondary female students meeting the Australian recommendations for physical activity is less than 10% (Morley et al, 2012). There are numerous benefits associated with physical activity participation and it is imperative efforts are directed to towards promoting physical activity participation among adolescent females.

This thesis reports on two studies that were part of The Sport4Fun Program, a school- and home-based intervention designed to promote physical activity participation among adolescent females. These were a Proof-of-Concept trial (POC trial) followed by a Pilot Randomised Controlled Trial (Pilot RCT). The aim of both studies was to assess the feasibility (screening, recruitment and retention of participants, and collection of useable measurement data), acceptability (implementation of sessions, participant attendance and enjoyment of sessions) and potential efficacy (determined by a trend towards statistical significance for the outcome variables) of a multifaceted secondary school-based program (The Sport4Fun Program). In both trials, The Sport4Fun Program was designed to promote physical activity participation, fundamental movement skill proficiency, perceived physical competence and enjoyment of physical activity in secondary school students. The POC Trial targeted male and female students in Year 7 (ages 12 to 13 years) and the Pilot RCT targeted only female students in Years 7-9 (ages 12 to 15 years). Social Cognitive Theory and Competence Motivation Theory were the theoretical frameworks underpinning the intervention in both trials.

The POC Trial was conducted with single group of 17 students (mean age = 12.4 ± 0.3 years). Measurements were collected at baseline and follow-up (10 weeks), with the primary outcomes being objectively measured physical activity and fundamental movement skill proficiency and secondary outcomes perceived physical competence, enjoyment of physical activity, waist circumference and body mass index (BMI). The POC Trial was an eight-week intervention, designed to fit into one 10-week school term. It consisted of a 90-minute practical session, scheduled in school sport time and three 15-minute theory sessions during morning homeroom (or roll call) time per week. Results indicated that the POC Trial was feasible (appropriate collection measures), acceptable (implementation of The Sport4Fun Program, participant attendance and enjoyment) and potentially efficacious, with trends in desired direction for all outcomes. Recommendations were made for the Pilot RCT for aspects of screening and recruitment processes, targeting participants, timing of intervention and delivery of sessions.

With a larger sample and a control group, the Pilot RCT aimed to more thoroughly test the potential efficacy of The Sport4Fun Program and implement the recommendations from the POC Trial. The sample for the Pilot RCT consisted of 20 females (mean age = 13.57 ± 0.77 years) who were randomized into intervention or control group following baseline measures. Measurements were collected at six-month follow-up with the primary and secondary outcomes the same as in the POC Trial. The Pilot RCT was a 20-week intervention, conducted over two school terms. It consisted of two practical sessions – a school sport session and an after-school sport session – and three 15-minute theory session completed in morning homeroom (or roll call) time per week. Students from older year groups (Year 11) provided peer support for the participants and parents were also involved through home challenges. Results indicated that the Pilot RCT was feasible, acceptable and potentially efficacious. Compared with the control group, adolescents in the intervention group had a significantly greater increase for total weekday physical activity (77.49 counts per minute [95%CI = 8.21 to 132.77] d=1.26 p=0.03), and a significantly smaller decrease in percentage of time spent in light physical activity (0.05 [95%CI = 0.01 to 0.09] d=1.45 p=0.02). There was also a significantly smaller increase in the intervention group for percentage of time spent in sedentary behaviour (-0.06 [95%CI = -0.10 to -0.01] d=-1.62 p=0.02). In addition, greater improvements were found in the intervention group for total fundamental movement skill proficiency (1.48 components [95%CI = -1.21 to 4.17] d=0.48 p=0.26).

The findings of the study reinforce the importance and potential schools have in promoting physical activity. Participants randomised to the Sport4Fun program showed medium to large beneficial effects on their weekday physical activity and motor skill proficiency. Compared with other school-based interventions, these results are particularly promising. In addition to this, the Sport4Fun Program shows a multi-component school-based intervention can be feasible and potentially efficacious in promoting physical activity and movement skills among low-fit adolescent girls. The Sport4Fun program was designed to address the gaps highlighted in recent systematic reviews and focus on aspects not yet targeted in school-based interventions. Findings from this study can provide an approach that could be integrated into other multi-component interventions to promote physical activity among young people and be tested among other groups.