Understanding motor coordination and its cognitive, academic, and psychosocial correlates in an adolescent normative sample
MetadataShow full item record
Over the past three decades, increasing attention has been paid to the importance of motor competence in relation to other areas of a child’s development, including cognitive functioning, academic achievement, and emotional outcomes. For example, a number of studies now show that children with motor difficulties are at increased risk for internalising problems such as anxiety, and may also experience deficits in complex cognitive processes, namely, executive functions. Furthermore, evidence suggests that without intervention, these motor difficulties and associated problems may continue, yet research in older age-groups is limited. The primary aim of this thesis was to explore the relationships between motor coordination and the cognitive, academic, and psychosocial domains in an adolescent sample aged 12 to16 years. This is imperative given the changes that occur, particularly in social and cognitive domains, during this developmental period. Furthermore, given that most of the existing studies have identified these relationships in groups of children with motor problems, this points to the need to investigate whether the close links between these areas exist along a continuum, extending to individuals without problems in the motor domain. The series of papers presented in this thesis therefore examine the association between motor coordination and these areas from a normative perspective.The first two papers of this thesis relate to the link between motor ability and emotional outcomes. Although the number of studies on this topic has increased, longitudinal evidence is limited. Therefore, the first study is based on a longitudinal project examining the predictive relationship between early motor development, from infancy to early childhood, and later emotional outcomes at school-age (i.e., 6 to 12 years old). The paper aims to present a preliminary analysis of the association between motor development and emotional functioning. Using parent-rated questionnaires, it was found that the stability of early gross motor development predicted later anxiety and depressive symptomatology. Importantly, the study provides an indication of the possible causal relationship between these areas which is important when considering the focus of the second paper in a normative sample of adolescents.Although it is plausible that the relationship between motor problems and internalising difficulties may be explained by organic factors, it has been suggested that the negative environmental experiences associated with motor problems may in turn, lead to negative self-appraisals and subsequently, increased risk for internalising problems. Thus, the second paper examined whether selfperceived competencies in social, academic, and physical areas play an important mediating role in the relationship between motor coordination and emotional functioning in adolescents. A standardised motor performance test (namely, Movement Assessment Battery for Children-2) provided indicators of motor coordination; manual dexterity, aiming and catching, and balance. Questionnaires on self-perceptions, anxiety, and depressive symptomatology were completed by adolescents. Structural equation modeling revealed that motor coordination had an indirect link with emotional functioning, through the mediating influence of selfperceptions. It also appeared that aiming and catching, and balance skills (and not manual dexterity) were important for the emotional outcomes of these adolescents.The focus of the following two papers aimed to further understand the relationship between these motor components and cognitive areas, including executive functions and academic achievement. The third paper examined possible specific relationships between the different motor components and various executive functions, namely working memory, inhibition, and set-shifting. Attention deficit hyperactivity (ADHD) symptomatology were also taken into account which is important given the close association between ADHD and both executive function and motor problems. Specific relationships between motor coordination components and the various executive functions were found which may suggest possible shared neural processes, including cerebellar mechanisms. Importantly, this study reveals relationships that may have been masked in studies that involved an overall measure of motor performance or groups of children with overall motor impairment.Given the significant links found between motor coordination and executive functions, it is plausible that certain executive functions may play an important role in understanding the relationship between motor problems and academic underachievement. Recently, working memory difficulties in children with motor problems were found to be important when understanding the academic underachievement often displayed by these children. In the fourth paper, structural equation modeling was used to examine whether the relationship between motor coordination and academic achievement (word reading, spelling, and numerical operations) is mediated by working memory in adolescents, whilst controlling for covariates such as ADHD symptomatology, verbal ability, and socio-economic status. It was found that motor coordination, specifically aiming and catching skills, has an indirect impact on these learning outcomes via working memory.In the final paper, the importance of identifying those adolescents at risk of motor problems is highlighted, particularly given the associated difficulties in the cognitive and psychosocial domains. Consequently, the fifth paper evaluates the revised Developmental Coordination Disorder Questionnaire (DCDQ), a parent-rated screening tool designed to assess motor difficulties, using the MABC-2 as a criterion standard. The DCDQ was found to have high internal consistency and demonstrated a relationship with the MABC-2. However, although the DCDQ appeared to meet the recommended standard for sensitivity, this was not met for specificity. Preliminary results for the psychometric properties of the revised DCDQ were promising suggesting that it may suitable for initial screening particularly in large samples, however, further assessment using a standardised motor performance test is warranted for those identified at risk of motor problems.The ultimate aim of this thesis, presented over five papers, was to increase awareness and recognition of the possible associated problems of motor coordination difficulties. The results across the five studies highlight the importance of motor ability in relation to cognitive and psychosocial areas in adolescents, with important implications for assessment and intervention. Furthermore, the papers provide information on the theoretical understanding of the links between these areas with some insight into possible underlying processes explaining the relationships.
Showing items related by title, author, creator and subject.
An examination of the relationship between motor coordination and executive functions in adolescentsRigoli, Daniela; Piek, Jan; Kane, Robert; Oosterlaan, J. (2012)Aim: Research suggests important links between motor coordination and executive functions. The current study examined whether motor coordination predicts working memory, inhibition, and switching performance, extending ...
Rigoli, Daniela; Piek, Jan; Kane, Robert (2012)OBJECTIVES: Previous research has revealed an important relationship between motor coordination difficulties and internalizing problems such as anxiety and depressive symptoms. However, further research is needed to ...
Motor coordination, working memory, and academic achievement in a normative adolescent sample: Testing a mediation modelRigoli, Daniela; Piek, Jan Patricia; Kane, Robert; Oosterlaan, J. (2012)The aim of the present study was to examine whether the relationship between motor coordination and academic achievement is mediated by working memory (WM) in a normative adolescent sample. Participants included 93 ...