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IES Grant

Title: CHildren in Action: Motor Program for PreschoolerS (CHAMPPS)
Center: NCSER Year: 2015
Principal Investigator: Favazza, Patricia Awardee: University of Massachusetts, Boston
Program: Early Intervention and Early Learning      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years (7/1/2015-6/30/2018) Award Amount: $1,419,002
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R324A150074

Co-Principal Investigator: Michaelene Ostrosky (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) and Gary Siperstein (University of Massachusetts, Boston)

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to fully develop a class-wide motor skills intervention, CHildren in Action: Motor Program for PreschoolerS (CHAMPPS), for preschool children with developmental disabilities. Many of these children have delays in motor development, yet do not engage in structured motor play and physical activities to improve these skills. Enhancing motor development is an important goal itself, but fundamental motor skills are also linked to the development of cognitive processes and social skills. This study will focus on the development of an intervention that supports motor development in the context of motor play, including universal design for learning (UDL) lessons and physical activities, with the aim of improving children's motor, social and cognitive development.

Project Activities: The research team will refine and complete development of a motor skills intervention, CHAMPPS, aimed at improving outcomes for preschool children with developmental disabilities or delays while implemented class-wide in inclusive settings. In the first 2 years, the curriculum will be iteratively developed and field tested in eight classrooms per year. In the final year, the CHAMPPS will be pilot tested by randomly assigning 16 classrooms to the intervention or business-as-usual control condition to evaluate the promise of the intervention for improving children's motor skills as well as cognitive and social development.

Products: The products of this project include a fully developed intervention that provides support in motor development for children with developmental disabilities or delays, peer-reviewed publications, and conference presentations.

Structured Abstract

Setting: This study will take place in inclusive preschool classrooms with children with disabilities or delays in Massachusetts and Illinois.

Sample: A total of approximately 480 preschool children (ages 3–5 years) and their teaching staff from 32 classrooms will participate in this study across each of the three phases. Although all children in each classroom will participate in the class-wide intervention, target children will include four children from each class with identified developmental disabilities or delays, including children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other diagnoses. Eight classrooms (32 children with disabilities) will participate in each of the first two phases, and 16 classrooms (64 children with disabilities) will participate in the pilot study.

Intervention: CHAMPPS will incorporate principles of universal design for inclusive classrooms with children with disabilities to improve motor development. Implemented over a 14-week period, classes will spend 2 weeks (3 days per week, 30 minutes per day) on one of seven distinct motor skill units foundational skills (visual tracking, motor imitation), walking and running, balance and jumping, trapping and catching, throwing, striking, and kicking. Each skill will be associated with specific physical activities that provide opportunities to practice those skills, and related vocabulary and social skills that are linked to school readiness will be incorporated into the lessons.

Research Design and Methods: In Phase 1, the first phase of the iterative development process, the research leadership team will review professional guidelines so that the components of the intervention correspond with the National Association for Physical Education's quality indicators for preschool motor programs and physical activity. The team will also obtain expert feedback from teachers, begin to manualize the intervention, develop feasibility and fidelity measurement tools, and conduct initial field tests with children and teaching staff in eight classrooms. In Phase 2, CHAMPPS will be field tested in eight new classrooms to assess the intervention's content validity, usability, feasibility, and fidelity of implementation. In Phase 3, the research team will pilot test the intervention in 16 classrooms in two states through a randomized trial in which classrooms will be assigned to the CHAMPPS or a control group to examine the impact of the intervention on child motor, social, and cognitive development. The pilot test will also examine fidelity of implementation, impact on level of physical activity, and teacher outcomes.

Control Condition: In the pilot study, children in the business-as-usual control condition will experience the same motor movement activities that they are already receiving in the classroom.

Key Measures: Key measures throughout the project will include researcher-developed measures of fidelity and feasibility, the Abilities Index to assess severity of disability, and accelerometer data (device designed to capture physical activity level). Additional key outcomes during the pilot study will include motor skills measured through the Peabody Developmental Motor Scale and Test of Gross Motor Development Second Edition, social skills measured through the Social Skills Improvement System – Rating Scales, and cognitive skills measured through the Boehm Test of Basic Concepts – 3 Preschool.

Data Analytic Strategy: Data from the initial field tests will be analyzed though frequency counts of responses to researcher-developed measures of feasibility and content validity, as well as by examining descriptive statistics from the fidelity of implementation measure. For the pilot test, data will be analyzed using hierarchical linear models on child outcome data, accounting for the nesting of students within classrooms and classrooms within treatment group.