Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Wright, Paul M. (Professor)

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations


Youth development--Illinois--Chicago; Urban youth--Life skills assessment--Psychological aspects; Urban youth--Illinois--Chicago--Attitudes; Sports for children--Illinois--Chicago--Psychological aspects


PAPER 1: TRANSFER OF LIFE SKILLS IN SPORT-BASED YOUTH DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS: A CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK BRIDGING LEARNING TO APPLICATION. Research has demonstrated that quality sport-based youth development programs promote life skill acquisition (e.g., leadership, self-control, social awareness) with the ultimate goal of facilitating lasting effects into the youth's social and academic environments. Researchers call this process "transfer of life skills" or the idea that physical, behavioral, and cognitive skills youth learn in the sport setting can be applied in non-sport settings to promote healthy development. The research surrounding this topic has been mixed, as many studies of quality sport programs have not been able to establish transfer occurring. In this paper, relevant learning theories from general education literature were used to propose a comprehensive framework on transfer in sport. Specifically, this paper focuses on how research has overlooked the cognitive processes that bridge student learning within a sport program to application outside of the program. A comprehensive description of the cognitive components youth experience during transfer are described and represented in a logic model. PAPER 2: WHAT IS LEARNED AND DOES IT TRANSFER? A SURVEY OF PHYSICAL EDUCATION STUDENTS' PERCEPTIONS ON TRANSFER OF LIFE SKILLS. Given that physical education (PE) is a requirement for all school-aged children and PE national standards directly align with youth development principles of personal and social responsibility, there is a need for researchers to examine how PE programs can foster positive developmental outcomes for youth. The most well-developed approach for implementing youth development principles into PE is the Teaching Personal and Social Responsibility Model, however studies that examine PE programs through the TPSR framework often rely on adults observations (e.g. teachers, coaches, parents) of youth transferring behaviors from PE to the classroom, home, or school. There is a need for research to assess how youth's perceptions and experiences affect their beliefs about their ability to transfer life skills outside of the context in which they learn. The purpose of this study was to examine how students in two physical education teachers' classes (one intervention and one control group) interpreted their PE experience with respect to learning life skills and transferring them to other areas in life. As part of an ongoing professional development (PD) program, the intervention teacher received significant training on how to incorporate responsibility-based teaching strategies into the PE curriculum. Pre- and post-surveys determined that students' in class experiences with life skills such as effort, problem solving, and emotional regulation were enhanced over the course of the intervention. No significant differences were observed overtime between the control teacher and intervention teacher on students' transferring life skills outside of the PE context. Given the short intervention period, future research should examine the impact of time on students beliefs about transferring life skills. PAPER 3: YOUTH PERCEPTIONS OF THE TRANSFER OF LIFE SKILLS IN A SPORT-BASED YOUTH DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM. Research demonstrates that quality sport-based youth development (SBYD) programs teach life skills (e.g., leadership, self-control) and promote use of these skills in youths' social environments. Nonetheless, one criticism of SBYD research is the limited evidence of "transfer" or application of skills in other contexts. Existing research may fall short because some researchers attempt to identify a single behavioral variable that signifies transfer, but youth may transfer life skills differently based on individual needs. Furthermore, outcomes-based research may fail to capture the complexity of the cognitive processes youth experience during transfer. A parallel line of research, called transformative learning, finds that youth may experience transfer though motivated use (behavioral component), expansion of perception (cognitive component), and experiential value (affective component). Thus, the purpose this study is, a) to examine youth perceptions on transfer of life skills from sport to life, and b) describe how youth cognitively experience this process. This study included a sample of adolescent youth (n=11) involved in a SBYD program in inner-city Chicago for four years. Three in-depth interviews were conducted that examined participants' understanding, perceived relevance, and motivation for using life skills taught in the program. Systematic observations and ethnographic field notes complimented interview data. Results indicated that participants' perceptions of transfer were characterized by four themes: personal impact, social responsibility, life skills, and situational insights. Across these themes it was clear that the transfer process was shaped by the participants' relationships with coaches and peers, commitment to program values, and assessment of their immediate environment. This study sheds light on the behavioral, cognitive, and affective components of transfer in SBYD programs. Implications for research and practice are discussed.


Advisors: Paul M. Wright.||Committee members: Daniel R. Gould; James D. Ressler; Kevin A. Richards; Lee Shumow.||Includes bibliographical references.


xvi, 163 pages




Northern Illinois University

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