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Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Sofiya Alhassan

Second Advisor

John Sirard

Third Advisor

Elizabeth Harvey

Fourth Advisor

Lisa Keller

Subject Categories



Maladaptive classroom behaviors (i.e., hyperactivity, inattention) are common in preschoolers, yet elevated levels may lead to future academic difficulties or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Physical activity (PA) may be one way to alleviate these maladaptive behaviors within the classroom, yet preschoolers are not meeting PA guidelines. Implementing academically-integrated PA may serve a two-fold benefit of enhancing PA and classroom behavior. However, process evaluation data describing academically-integrated PA interventions are sparse. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy of a 12-week PA intervention integrated into early learning standards on classroom behavior in preschoolers. Two preschools were randomized to either the Preschoolers Actively Learning (PAL) group or the health-tracking control (CON) group. All children participated in their assigned activities, but children (n = 58, age = 4.0 ± 0.8 years) and teachers (n = 8) were individually recruited for participation in the assessment portion of this study. The PAL lessons were integrated into early learning standards and offered for 10-15 minutes during morning circle time four days per week for 12 weeks. The CON group was asked to maintain their typical curriculum. Feasibility, acceptability, and fidelity data were collected daily, weekly, and post-intervention. PA levels and directly observed classroom behavior were assessed at baseline, 6-weeks, and 12-weeks, while teacher-reported classroom behavior was assessed at baseline and 12-weeks. Process evaluation data indicated that 93% of lessons were implemented as intended. Modifications were made to 34% of the lessons. Children and teachers appeared to enjoy participating in the lessons 99% and 85% of the time, respectively. Children in the PAL group engaged in 5.0 ± 2.3 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous PA during circle time compared to 2.8 ± 2.8 minutes in the CON group (t = -7.12, p < 0.0001). However, there were no differences in preschool-day PA or classroom behavior. While feasibility and acceptability were established, preliminary efficacy was not. Teachers expressed interest in future use of the PAL lessons, but modifications should be made to influence classroom behavior and PA. Strategies to enhance lesson intensity, preschool day PA, and assessment compliance are needed in future studies.


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Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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