The Canadian Assessment of Physical Literacy: Methods for children in grades 4 to 6 (8 to 12 years)

Patricia E. Longmuir, Charles Boyer, Meghann Lloyd, Yan Yang, Elena Boiarskaia, Weimo Zhu, Mark S. Tremblay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Physical literacy is described as the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding to value and engage in a physically active lifestyle. As such, it is expected that those who have greater physical literacy would be more likely to obtain the health benefits offered by habitual physical activity. A theoretical model and assessment battery, the Canadian Assessment of Physical Literacy (CAPL), for the assessment of childhood physical literacy had been proposed in theory but validity data were lacking. The purpose of this study was to explore validity evidence for the CAPL among children in grades 4 to 6. Methods: CAPL validity was evaluated through three analyses that utilized cross-sectional data obtained through local schools in Eastern Ontario, Canada. A confirmatory factor analysis compared the data to the theoretical model. Patterns of association between self-reported age and gender and the CAPL total and domain scores were examined using regression models. Teacher ratings of participants' knowledge, attitude and physical activity competence were compared to assessment results. Results: The CAPL was completed by 963 children (55 % female) in grades 4, 5 and 6. Children were 8 to 12 years of age (mean 10.1 years), with 85 % of children approached agreeing to participate. A confirmatory factor analysis using data from 489 children with complete raw scores supported a model with four domains: engagement in physical activity (active and sedentary), physical competence (fitness and motor skill), motivation and confidence, and knowledge and understanding. Raw domain scores followed expected patterns for age and gender, providing evidence for their validity. Interpretive categories, developed from age and gender adjusted normative data, were not associated with age indicating that the CAPL is suitable for use across this age range. Children's gender was associated with the physical competence, motivation and engagement in physical activity domain scores, indicating that further research is required regarding the gender adjustment of the raw CAPL scores. CAPL domain and total scores were statistically significantly associated with teacher ratings of the child's motivation, attitudes, fitness, skill and overall physical activity. Conclusions: CAPL offers a comprehensive assessment of engagement in physical activity, physical competence, motivation and confidence, and knowledge and understanding as components of childhood (grades 4 to 6, 8 to 12 years) physical literacy. Monitoring of these measures enhances our understanding of children's physical literacy, and assists with the identification of areas where additional supports are required.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number767
JournalBMC public health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 11 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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