Disentangling the relationship between children's motor ability, executive function, and academic achievement

Schmidt, Mirko; Egger, Fabienne; Benzing, Valentin; Jäger, Katja; Conzelmann, Achim; Roebers, Claudia; Pesce, Caterina (2017). Disentangling the relationship between children's motor ability, executive function, and academic achievement. PLoS ONE, 12(8), pp. 1-19. Public Library of Science 10.1371/journal.pone.0182845

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Even though positive relations between children’s motor ability and their academic achievement are frequently reported, the underlying mechanisms are still unclear. Executive function has indeed been proposed, but hardly tested as a potential mediator. The aim of the present study was therefore to examine the mediating role of executive function in the relationship between motor ability and academic achievement, also investigating the individual contribution of specific motor abilities to the hypothesized mediated linkage to academic achievement. At intervals of ten weeks, 236 children aged between 10 and 12 years were tested in terms of their motor ability (t1: cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, motor coordination), core executive functions (t2: updating, inhibition, shifting), and academic achievement (t3: mathematics, reading, spelling). Structural equation modelling revealed executive function to be a mediator in the relation between motor ability and academic achievement, represented by a significant indirect effect. In separate analyses, each of the three motor abilities were positively related to children’s academic achievement. However, only in the case of children’s motor coordination, the mediation by executive function accounted for a significance percentage of variance of academic achievement data. The results provide evidence in support of models that conceive executive function as a mechanism explaining the relationship that links children’s physical activity-related outcomes to academic achievement and strengthen the advocacy for quality physical activity not merely focused on health-related physical fitness outcomes, but also on motor skill development and learning.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Sport Science (ISPW)
07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Developmental Psychology
07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Sport Science (ISPW) > Sport Science I

UniBE Contributor:

Schmidt, Mirko; Egger, Fabienne; Benzing, Valentin Johannes; Jäger, Katja; Conzelmann, Achim and Roebers, Claudia

Subjects:

100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology
700 Arts > 790 Sports, games & entertainment

ISSN:

1932-6203

Publisher:

Public Library of Science

Language:

English

Submitter:

Jennifer Ruth Sprenger

Date Deposited:

08 Dec 2017 12:23

Last Modified:

08 Feb 2018 15:36

Publisher DOI:

10.1371/journal.pone.0182845

PubMed ID:

28817625

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.107518

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/107518

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