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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



First Advisor

Matthew Normand

First Committee Member

Carolynn Kohn

Second Committee Member

Peter Schroeder


Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that children engage in 60 min of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) every day of the week (CDC, 2010), current estimates suggest that most children do not (Troiano et al., 2008). Inadequate physical activity increases the risks related to a number of health problems in children (Reilly & Kelly, 2011), however, these risks are mitigated, at least in part, by increasing activity to levels correlated with health benefits (Ross et al., 2000). The functional analysis methodology proposed by Iwata et al. (1982/1994) provides an efficient and effective way to identify functional relationships, and lends itself to investigating the variables responsible for increased levels of MVPA. In the current study, the functional analysis methodology was used to assess relationships between MVPA and environmental events (i.e., Attention, Interactive Play, Alone, and Escape), which were alternated with a control condition in a multielement design. Results of the current study indicated that all four participants were most active in the Interactive Play condition and the percentage of MVPA varied across test and control conditions. In addition, the frequency and duration of bouts of MVPA was greatest in the Interactive Play condition. The current study presents a methodology for identifying environmental contingencies that support increased levels of MVPA in young children, and holds great promise for improving our understanding of the variables related to physical activity so that effective interventions can be designed to improve children's health and wellbeing.





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