EXERCISE AND QUALITY OF LIFE
Research article
Volume 2, No. 1, 2010, 45-51
UDC
796.012.1/.2-055.15;159.923.2
THE SENSE OF COHERENCE OF MOTOR GIFTED
BOYS
Nataöa Sturza Mili„*
Preschool Teacher Training College ìMihailo Palovî, Vröac
Abstract
The paper deals with the relation between motor giftedness and a sense of coherence (a
specific attitude towards the world and resistance to the surrounding stress) which has been
tested on a sample of 275 10-year-old boys. Potentialy motor gifted boys have been identified
by means of a battery of 11 motor tasks. The sense of coherence has been assessed by means of
Margalit scale of child orientation. By using a T-test for small independent samples it has been
confirmed that there is a statistically significant difference between the variable of coherence of
motor gifted boys and the control group of boys (p = 0.003). The results support the thesis that
motor giftedness of pupils should be examined in multiple ways, including other aspects of
development.
Key words: motor giftedness, sense of coherence
Introduction
A better understanding of children and their development contributes to the general
improvement of man. Children are one of the most interesting phenomena and this is the reason
why the potential benefits of studying children, in practical as well as in theoretical purposes, do
not have to be specifically underlined. Starting from the fact that the motor activity of school
children is still insufficiently expressed field of the motor activity and one of the most important
areas of child psychology as well, the study of this phenomenon was the essential matter of this
research work. Child motion is the presentation of extremely complex, interactive and ever-
changing internal process, therefore a quality treatment of preschool children needs to take into
account any available reliable relevant information from various areas (CemiË & Ropret, 2008).
New tendencies of the educational work view a child holistically, respecting the
acknowledgement that the different aspects of child's development are in interaction and that
they cannot be roughly separated (Gardner, 1993; äefer, 2000, 2009; Khire 2000; Gojkov et al.,
2002; Malina 2004; Sturza-Mili„ 1999; 2008; 2009a; Rajtmajer, 2008; Boûin & Radovanovi„,
2009). However, in spite of this, and in order to understand the functioning of a child as an
* Corresponding author. Preschool Teacher Training College ìMihailo Palovî, 13000 Vröac, Omladinski trg 1, e-
mail: natasasturza@gmail.com
© 2010 Faculty of Sport and Physical Education, University of Novi Sad, Serbia
45
N. Sturza Mili
entity, separate parts of this entity and their interaction have to be considered and studied. What
still leave enough space in the child individual study are exactly the relations of some separate
segments.
Participation and success in physical education and sports ask for the development of
many complex movements in children. Motor performance of a child depends to a great degree
on situations in which basic movements used to appear, as well as on the existence of conditions
for expressing a variety of movements and provision of problem situations for motor task solving
(Sturza-Milic
2008;
2009b). Unfortunately, children today are not provided with optimal
conditions (regarding environmental and educational conditions, etc) when physical activity is in
question, and such a reality has negative effects on their overall development. Within their study
on talents, Abbott, Collins, Sowerby and Martindale (2007) have pointed out that teachers
believe that children will be ìilliterateî in movement if they are deprived from suitable
conditions for its development. Decreased physical activity in this period of life, i.e. at preschool
age, has negative effects on life quality, i.e. health, family relationships (Firika & Sturza-Mili„,
2004; Matejak & Planinöec, 2008; Rajtmajer, 2008).
Motor giftedness is a phenomenon which has been studied on a small scale, in spite of
the fact that motor development with children is in the function of general development;
furthermore, children express themselves through movement better than any other modality. One
of the key elements for the appearance of pupilís motor gifted behaviour is the development and
the quality of motor abilities, those which more specifically than any other feature contribute to
the manifestation of motor giftedness. The majority of previous researches have aimed at
identification of motor giftedness, using the technique of motor testing.
However, experience has shown that the isolated observation of a sole segment of childís
development is unacceptable. Motor giftedness of pupils should be observed and studied
confluently, i.e. multivariantly, including all other developmental aspects: affective, cognitive,
morphological and others, since it is likely that there is a significant integrated influence of a
whole range of components on motor giftedness. Thelen (1995) finds that motor development
ensures universal, biologically grounded basis for early development of cognitive abilities, as
well as language and social behaviour. When considering childís development, attention should
be directed to the research on the interaction among developmental fields, rather than to the
fields themselves. At early ages socialisation is global, while each experience and behaviour of a
child has general psychological meaning. Psychological capacity is the most important feature in
identification of motor giftedness and talent (Bompa, 1999). There are findings that numerous
individuals, physically predetermined for success, have failed due to the lack of psychological
characteristics. The stated author has also emphasized that the contemporary programs of
identification of talent put minimal accent on psychological factor and its influence on the final
outcome of success. Khire
(2000) sees the faster development of an individual in the
development of an integrated personality, while the development of potentials should be
followed by the five basic fields of manís life: physical, intellectual, emotional, social and
spiritual. However, a fact should not be neglected that there are researches showing that many
individuals with extraordinary abilities in one field can have serious difficulties and regression in
another one (Gardner,
1983). Vajtmor (1980, according to -orðevi„, 1998) has, offering
numerous arguments supporting his standpoint, pointed out that the self-image and the world
view are two most important determinants of mental health, human behaviour and success in a
field. Boûin (2001) argues that a world view represents relatively permanent disposition directing
individualís behaviour in life in general. Antonovski (according to Boûin, 2001) compares the
sense of coherence (a specific attitude towards the world and resistance to the surrounding stress,
world view) with several related terms: ìa firm, passionate personalityî, ìunbeatable childrenî,
ìpotencyî, etc. Childís self-image is a construct consisting of a set of perceptions developed
from experience. The researches studying the features of those who have succeeded or failed,
point to the fact that a negative self-image seems to be the central feature differentiating the
46
The sense of coherence of motor gifted boys
successful from the unsuccessful. Intelligence and the sense of coherence are in important
connection with the school achievement, i.e. the higher level of intelligence and the stronger
sense of coherence make a construction according to which more successful students differ from
the less successful ones
(Boûin & Radovanovi„,
2009). Motorically more able children,
compared to other children, have more sense of coherency, they can manage stress better and are
more immune to everyday stress that modern life brings (Sturza-Mili„, 2008).
The basic aim of the paper is to consider whether potentially motor gifted boys have more
expressed sense of coherence (specific world view and resistance to the stressors surrounding
them) in comparison to boys not supposed to be motor gifted .
Method
Participants
The sample has included 275 10-year-old boys attending primary schools in Vröac.
Potentially motor gifted boys (N = 39) have been identified using the technique of motor testing
(15 % boys who have achieved the best results on motor testing). The positioning of pupils has
been carried out according to standardized values of individual motor tasks in one Z-value. A
control group of boys (N = 38) has also been formed according to the method of random sample,
consisting of those children not supposed to be gifted.
Instruments
The sample of motor tasks:
1. Standing long jump (SLJ),
2. Endurance in pull-up position (EPP),
3. Sit-ups (SIU),
4. Running 15 m (R15),
5. Tapping rate (TAP),
6. Agility run 10x5m (AGR),
7. Training ground with jumping and pulling through (TJP),
8. Targeting (TAR),
9. Flamingo balance test (FLA),
10. Sit and reach (SIR),
11. Shuttle run on 20m track (SHT).
Motor tasks were adjusted to the sample of children and had shown optimal measuring
characteristics in previous research (Sturza-Mili„, 2009a).
The Scale of children orientation has been used for the evaluation of the sense of
coherence. It has been developed by Margalit
(1999, according to Boûin,
2001) and her
associates, starting from the theoretical sense of coherence. The Scale of children orientation
consists of 16 statements to be commented according to the scale ranging from 1 (it never
happens to me) to 4 (it always happens to me) in relation to life situations expressing the sense of
coherence. The instrument includes 3 more statements representing ìquestions for sleepersî, not
to be taken into consideration when scoring.
47
N. Sturza Mili
Data processing
Data processing referred to the calculation of main descriptive indicators of motor
variable (AGR, FLA, TAR, SIU, TJP, SIR, SLJ, TAP, R15, EPP and SHT) for the sample of
motor gifted boys and control group of boys. Regarding the variable of the sense of coherence,
the difference between the potentially motor gifted boys and the control group has been tested
according to the T-test.
Results
After motor testing of the complete sample (n = 275), the results from separate motor
tasks have been standardised and turned into one Z-value. All boys who had the results over 85
percentile from the top of the list have been put into the sample of potentialy gifted boys (n =
39). A control group has also been formed from the remaining pupils, i.e. those whose results
were below 85 percentile rang by using the method of random sample (n = 38). Tables 1 show
the basic descriptive determinants of motor variables.
Table 1
Descriptive statistics of motor variables for the sample of motor gifted boys (GB, n = 39)
and control group of boys (CB, n = 38)
MOTOR
Min
Max
AS
SD
VAR.
GB
CB
GB
CB
GB
CB
GB
CB
AGR
15.78
17.02
23.75
25.22
19.058
20.14
1.727
2.134
FLA
3.89
1.78
60.00
60.00
27.474
11.595
18.306
11.003
TAR
7.00
7.00
30.00
36.00
21.200
19.878
5.277
6.431
SIU
7.00
3.00
21.00
20.00
15.737
14.012
2.991
3.105
TJP
3.44
3.44
6.65
7.50
4.656
4.864
0.667
0.636
SIR
16.00
3.00
37.00
39.00
28.132
21.414
5.603
5.991
SLJ
110.00
80.00
185.00
185.00
151.58
132.17
17.514
21.455
TAP
24.00
6.00
41.00
40.00
34.397
30.817
4.224
4.843
R15
2.07
2.38
3.66
3.90
2.706
2.936
0.363
0.326
EPP
1.93
0.92
68.00
68.00
36.612
19.217
17.353
18.055
äHT
128.00
80.00
304.44
266.5
228.16
156.73
48.563
48.345
AS ñ Arithmetic mean
SD ñ standard deviation
Min ñ min. value
Max ñ max. value
By using T-test for small independent samples, it has been confirmed that there is a
statistically significant difference (p = 0.003) between the sample of motor gifted boys (n = 39)
and the control group of boys (n = 38) in the variable of the sense of coherence. Table 2 shows
that the former scored better in the test of the sense of coherence than the latter. The average
value of scores of the sense of coherence in motor gifted boys was 51.157 (these pupils had the
answers which were closer to maximum value - 4, i.e. they had more life situations in which
48
The sense of coherence of motor gifted boys
their sense of coherence was expressed), while the average value of scores in boys from the
control group was 48.998.
Table 2
The significance of the difference in the sense of coherence between the
motor gifted boys (GB) and the control group of boys (CB)
n
AS
SD
t
p
GB
39
51.157
3.865
3.065
0.003
CB
38
48.998
3.986
n ñ number of students
t ñ t value
AS ñ Arithmetic mean
p ñ level of significance
SD ñ standard deviation
Discussion
Many theorists assume that individual factors such as personality traits are the ones that
define behaviour. Bandura (1999) has the opinion that these ideas are too simple and that
behaviour of individuals can be predicted only when the complete context is taken into
consideration. During childhood, processes of development and maturation are closely related
and intertwined. Simonton (1999) feels that the top limit for the development of some talent of
an individual depends on multiplicative integration of different components. The obtained results
from this research correspond to these beliefs. If we look at the sense of coherence, among other
things, as ëtoughness, invincibility of personalityí, better resistance to stress from the
surroundings in the modern way of living, motor gifted pupils have a stronger sense of coherence
in certain life situations, according to the results. Bompa (1999) believes that many individuals
who were physically predestined to succeed failed to do so due to lack of psychological
characteristics. However, despite unavoidable importance of knowing personality traits for a
better understanding of a child and better defining of giftedness, when the assessment of children
personalities is in question we are faced with a number of problems. One of the problems lies in
the fact that most personality tests (as well as the scale used in this research) are based on the
paper-pencil principle and therefore subject to simulation of the testee, inadequate self-
consciousness of him (one can think that he would do something in a certain situation which in
reality he wouldnít do at all) and the gap between explicit attitudes showed on the test and
implicit attitudes which influence behaviour in real life. Masked questions can solve this
problem but only to a certain degree. The problem of sincerity is not as big with children as it is
with adults because the former are more honest and open, but on the other hand, the problem of
self-consciousness and the ability to imagine all the situations from the test and to predict how
they would react in them is much higher when children are in question (Schefer, 2000). Even a
bigger problem is the fact that child personality is not stable, as it changes from minute to minute
and with small children it hasnít been formed yet. These facts should be taken into serious
consideration when analyzing the results obtained by the usage of the test for the assessment of
the sense of coherence.
To sum up, according to the results of this research, motor gifted boys tend to have a
significantly better sense of coherence than boys who are less motor gifted. However, there is a
need for further researching of the relations between motor giftedness and the sense of coherence
in order to find out more about the relations of these phenomena. Furthermore, the results
49
N. Sturza Mili
support the thesis that motor giftedness of pupils should be examined in multiple ways, including
other aspects of development because there is a possibility that there is a significant integrated
influence of the whole spectre of components on motor effectiveness.
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Submitted April 19, 2010
Accepted June 12, 2010
51