Paper 1: a modified Delphi methodology to define and operationalise physical literacy

R. Keegan, D. Dudley, L. Barnett

    Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting abstract


    Introduction: Alongside growing interest in physical literacy, the concept's meaning has been debated. In May 2016, The Australian Sports Commission sought a research team to develop an accessible and widely applicable definition. The outcomes were guided by the following requirements: applicable to all age groups; applicable to a wide range of stakeholders spanning education, recreational sport, elite sport and health context; and also accessible to practitioners, recipients (including children and parents), policymakers and researchers alike.

    Methods: Following a substantial review of the existing literature in physical literacy, we implemented a modified Delphi methodology using leading experts from Australia, as well as several international contributors. The above constraints guided the Delphi process. We used a one-day workshop to launch the project, and then surveys were sent to the expert panel seeking their advice on which concepts were considered to be: (a) core to a definition, versus which were (b) constructs/components; (c) associated variables (antecedents and/or consequences); or (d) philosophical considerations. Three rounds of Delphi were completed with the results analysed and fed forward into the next round. Following this focus on the definition, the Deplhi process was repeated with a focus on creating a standards framework to guide development and assessment of physical literacy.

    Results: An expert panel reached consensus on four defining statements: Core – Physical literacy is lifelong holistic learning acquired and applied in movement and physical activity contexts. Composition – It reflects ongoing changes integrating physical, psychological, cognitive and social capabilities. Importance – It is vital in helping us lead healthy and fulfilling lives through movement and physical activity. Aspiration – A physically literate person is able to draw on their integrated physical, psychological, cognitive, and social capacities to support health promoting and fulfilling movement and physical activity – relative to their situation and context – throughout the lifespan. Consensus was reached on a standards framework which addressed four learning domains (physical, psychological, cognitive, social) and included five learning configurations (based on the ‘System of Observed Learning Outcomes’ taxonomy of learning).

    Conclusion: The concept of physical literacy is tightly bound up in discussions of philosophy, importance and pedagogy. Once these considerations are addressed, a core definition emerged representing the potential of all humans to learn, develop and thrive through their physical embodiment. These four defining statements and the resulting standards framework were accepted as having met the project requirements; to define and operationalise physical literacy.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)S55-S56
    Number of pages2
    JournalJournal of Science and Medicine in Sport
    Issue numberS1
    Publication statusPublished - 2018
    Event2018 Sports Medicine Australia Conference - Perth, Australia
    Duration: 10 Oct 201813 Oct 2018


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