Filter articles by:
Date published
Article keywords
Article type

UC legwork in physical literacy research recognised ahead of Engagement Australia Excellence Awards

Michael Black

18 October 2021: New University of Canberra research has been commended for its real-world impact in schools and sporting clubs around the country, with a physical literacy project named as a finalist in the Engagement Australia Excellence Awards.

A team comprised of researchers from the University of Canberra, Deakin University, and Macquarie University, collaborated with Sport Australia and several other institutes to come up with a definition for physical literacy: ‘learning generated through movement’.

What started as a one-year collaboration spanning several disciplines – health, education, and sport – has now continued for almost five years, growing in scope and ambition.

The award submission Physical Literacy in Australia highlighted the practical and innovative outcomes of the research, with Deakin leading the submission.

Engagement Australia received 107 submissions from 35 universities across Australia and New Zealand, with only five finalists selected for the Outstanding Engagement for Research Impact award.

The physical literacy project has been chosen as a finalist alongside the Peter Doherty Institute, which provided key modelling to Australia’s COVID-19 response.

Associate Professor in Sport Psychology at the University of Canberra Richard Keegan said the calibre of other finalists gave a strong endorsement to the work he and his colleagues have been doing.

“We think we’re in with a fight for the award, and our research lets us play in a more fun space,” he said.

“With physical literacy, we’re looking at something that can make people’s lives richer and more fulfilling, and it can help everyone.”

Two teenage girls are playing soccer on opposing teams as a ball flies toward the goal net.

Beyond just defining physical literacy, the research team broke the model down into four key domains: physical, psychological, social, and cognitive capabilities.

But Associate Professor Keegan said it was important the research had a real-life impact, so during 2021, a range of physical literacy tools was developed for use by schools, sporting clubs, and individuals across Australia as well as 15 other countries.

“It went from grappling with the genuinely hard problem of boiling down every aspect of physical literacy to a simple definition, to eventually helping people find their place in the world of movement,” he said.

“It’s never too late to improve your physical literacy – to plot a route that improves your wellbeing.”

Associate Professor Keegan said the team were even hoping to develop an app for mainstream use and would explore possible funding avenues for such a project.

The concept would encourage users to record physical activity in the app, give them insight into the elements of physical literacy being engaged, and then plot how to improve or even transfer the skills to another sport or activity.

For now, various useful physical literacy resources have been made available via Sports Australia.

The 2021 Engagement Australia Excellence Awards take place virtually on 30 November at 6pm.

For more information on the free event and other finalists, visit Engagement Australia.