Date of Award

Fall 2019

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Physical Education

First Advisor

Collin Webster


Purpose: Toward the advancement of physical literacy (PL) in the United States, the purpose of this dissertation was to operationalize the construct and work toward a foundational framework to which PL can be assessed. The purpose of Study 1 was to develop an operational conceptualization of PL via a modified Delphi approach. The purpose of Study 2 was to expand upon the findings from Study 1 by exploring adolescents' perceptions of PL using repertory grid analysis (RGA).

Methods: Study 1 used a sequential, mixed methods design. Participants (N=22) were national and international PL academics with peer-reviewed publications on PL or identified by professional organizations as the PL expert. The Delphi employed two rounds of data collection. The first round was an open-ended questionnaire, analyzed qualitatively. The second round was a questionnaire with Likert scale rating based upon the results of the first round. Study 2 also employed a mixed-methods design. Participants (N=17) were a convenient sample of adolescents (ages 14-17) in U.S. high schools. A structured interview protocol was used to collect data in line with established RGA methodology. The interview included (a) polarized questions regarding participants' activity preferences (i.e., most/least favorite), choices (i.e., choose most/least often), and ideal (i.e., haven';t tried but would/wouldn't try); (b) triadic elicitation (i.e., compare/contrast) of activities; (c) semantic and opposite identification; (d) rating activities on 6-point personalized scale. Elements (i.e., activities) and constructs (i.e., perceptions of activity) were analyzed with frequency count, descriptive statistics and qualitatively analysis.

Results: For Study 1, qualitative analysis revealed two overarching themes: PL is and PL is not. Within the theme of PL is, three subthemes emerged: autonomous application of movement, cognition, and response to adversity. Within the theme of PL is not there were two subthemes: determinants/outcomes of PL and determinants of physical activity (PA).

For Study 2, a total of 88 elements and 123 constructs were identified. Constructs were organized into 23 construct categories. The most elicited construct category was active (i.e., participants' perceived energy exertion). Participants preferred engaging in activities favored in the construct categories of familiarity (i.e., perceived comfort), identification (i.e., perceived suitableness), enjoyment (i.e., perceived fun) and activity competence (i.e., perceived good/bad at activity). In the element category PA choice, participants highly favored familiarity, activity competence, enjoyment and outcomes (i.e., perceived benefit). In the element category PA ideal, participants favored the construct category freedom (i.e., perceived level of control).

Discussion/Conclusion: Overall, the results of this dissertation support an operational conceptualization of PL as an autonomous application of movement, constructed by the individual's conception of movement and response to adversity. Study 2 built upon Study 1, exploring adolescent perceptions on what activities they choose to engage in / refrain from and why they choose to engage or refrain from PA. The results of Study 2 show emerging evidence of adolescents' PL profiles, allowing future research to build upon this framework and establish an evidence-based PL assessment that is inclusive of all abilities and non-contextual in relation to age, skill, or location among U.S. high school students.