Doctoral Dissertation

2.11.2018 M.Sc. Piritta Asunta (Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences, Sport Pedagogy)


2.11.2018 12:00 — 15:00

Location: Seminaarinmaki , S212
M.Sc. (Sport Sciences) Piritta Asunta defends her doctoral dissertation in Sport Pedagogy "Identification and support for pupils with motor learning difficulties in a school setting”.

Opponent Professor Leena Haataja (University of Helsinki) and Custos Professor Pauli Rintala (University of Jyväskylä). The doctoral dissertation is held in Finnish.


Motor learning difficulties, such as the developmental coordination disorder (DCD), imply substantial difficulties in learning new motor skills. The purpose of this study was to develop an observation tool for teachers to identify motor learning problems. A further aim was to clarify how teachers can support children with motor learning challenges in the school environment. The study consisted of four sub-studies. The first sub-study comprised a systematic literature review on the psychometric properties and usability of the observation forms used internationally. The Dutch Motor Observation Questionnaire for Teachers (MOQ-T) was selected for cross-cultural translation and adaptation. Its translation work and reliability were analysed in the second sub-study. In the third sub-study, the psychometric properties of the Finnish version, MOQ-T-FI were analysed based on a larger set of empirical data. The last sub-study was a descriptive review exploring more closely how motor learning difficulties can be identified and pupils supported in the school environment. The development as well as reliability assessments of the MOQ-T-FI questionnaire were based on five different data sets. The data of pretest 1 consisted of evaluations by 11 teachers (children n = 33, age 6–13, average 9.85). The data of pretest 2 comprised children in eight comprehensive schools (teachers n = 27; children n = 193; age 6–12, average 9.5). The Finnish reference value data for MOQ-T-FI were collected as comprehensively as possible from the various parts of Finland (teachers n = 111; children n = 850; age 6–9, average 7.7). In addition, two complementary data sets not included in the sub-studies were utilised. The studies demonstrated that teachers have good opportunities to identify motor learning difficulties in the school environment. MOQ-T-FI is a functional, simple to use and culturally neutral screening instrument. In terms of validity, it is relatively suitable for identifying pupils’ motor learning difficulties, and for its usability it is very suitable for the purpose. However, repeatability and usability should be examined more in the future. A multiphase approach is generally recommended for supporting pupils with motor learning difficulties. The support for children’s motor learning should cover every level of the three-step support model. The study encourages the early identification of problems and the strengthening of the self-esteem, motor skills and competence of pupils with motor problems. This should take place in a positive and supportive atmosphere. The early identification of motor learning difficulties and efficient support, at their best, can reduce the risk of social and educational exclusion as well as prevent more extensive problems and deeper motor skills deficits.

More information

Piritta Asunta