Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation


Physical Education

First Advisor

Tina J. Hall

Second Advisor

Judith E Rink


Quality elementary physical education programs recognize the changing development and movement abilities of children (NASPE, 2007). Educational dance within these programs provides opportunities to engage in developmentally appropriate rhythmic activities. Research to date provides modest information for physical educators regarding what rhythmic activities are best suited for elementary children. This study identified developmental trends in the dance performance of children age six to nine and the factors that affected their performance on three line and three circle dances.

Participants included 97 early elementary age students (first grade, n=32; second, n=35; and third, n=30) enrolled in after school programs. Prerequisite skills tests of beat competency and locomotor/nonlocomotor skills were administered prior to instruction. Beat competence was measured by the Beat Competence Analysis Test (BCAT) (Weikart, 2006) and locomotor/nonlocomotor skills tested were based on a hierarchal difficulty progression of steps commonly used in folk dances (Weikart, 2006). Practice of one line and one circle dance per day followed. On the final day of data collection the six dances were reviewed and a final performance was videotaped. Dance motor performance and beat synchronization for each dance were evaluated and specific errors were identified within each eight-count movement phrase. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, Pearson correlations, multiple regressions, and analysis of variance (ANOVAs).

Results indicated: (a) age was a significant predictor of children's motor performance during five of the six dances, (b) beat competence was significantly and positively related to children's ability to synchronize their movements to the music during performance of five of the six dances, (c) locomotor/nonlocomotor skills performed in isolation predicted children's motor performance during five of the six dances and children's ability to synchronize movements during dance performance, and (d) almost half of all movement errors coincided with changes between locomotor and nonlocomotor movements within the dances.

Findings suggest that the development of beat competence and locomotor/nonlocomotor skills are vital prior to successful participation in structured dances for this age group. Further, structured dances might not be developmentally appropriate for children before third grade and instructional time might be better spent on the development of fundamental motor skills and rhythmic activities that develop beat competence. Additional research is needed to examine dance motor performance with quality instruction and adequate practice time. There is a need to investigate validity of Weikart's folk dance step levels in relation to dance instruction in elementary physical education classes.