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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

South Carolina: Researchers Successfully Translate Physical Activity Intervention Program into Online Training for Preschool Teachers

Members of the Children’s Physical Activity Research Group (CPARG) in the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health have demonstrated that their evidenced-based approach to training preschool teachers to increase their students’ physical activity can be effectively translated into an online format. Based on two decades of research conducted by CPARG director and exercise science professor, Dr. Russell Pate, the Study of Health and Activity in Preschool Environments (SHAPES) aims to increase preschoolers’ physical activity by engaging preschool teachers in professional development training designed to modify instructional practices.

SHAPES began as a randomized controlled trial that was shown to be effective when it was tested in 16 schools between 2008 and 2012 (funding source: National Institutes of Health). During the second phase (2013-2016; Duke Endowment funding), the researchers translated the in-person delivery to an online format – evaluating teacher implementation completeness and fidelity in 10 pilot schools and then replicating the implementation in 30 preschools. For the past two years (phase III, Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina Foundation funding), the CPARG team has engaged in a large-scale dissemination of SHAPES, reaching 818 teachers from 218 different childcare centers.

“The SHAPES core elements that we defined in phase I were retained throughout all three phases, and we saw high levels of implementation completeness and fidelity during the change to online delivery,” says Dr. Ruth Saunders, professor emerita of health promotion, education, and behavior and lead author on the paper, published in Translational Behavioral Medicine, that describes the translation of SHAPES.

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