Completed Projects

Understanding motor coordination and its cognitive, academic, and psychosocial correlates in an adolescent normative sample.

Dr Daniela Rigoli, Emeritus Prof Jan Piek, Dr Robert Kane, Prof Jaap Oosterlaan; Curtin University.

Over the past few decades, increasing attention has been paid to the importance of motor competence in relation to other areas of a child’s development, yet research in older age-groups is limited. This project explored the relationships between motor coordination and the cognitive, academic, and psychosocial areas in adolescents.

It was found that adolescent’s self-perceived competencies in social, academic, and physical areas play an important role in understanding the relationship between motor coordination and emotional functioning (Rigoli et al., 2012). Other findings demonstrated the importance of working memory in explaining the relationship between motor coordination and academic achievement in adolescents (Rigoli et al., 2012).

Development of Animal Fun Resources

Emeritus Prof Jan Piek, Curtin University

As a result of positive findings from the previous research, The Mental Health Commission of Western Australia funded the further development of Animal Fun into a set of useful resources for Pre-primary schools, kindergartens, child care centres and for allied health professionals working with young children and families.

Animal Fun: A movement program to promote physical and mental health in young children 2009-2011.

Emeritus Prof Jan Piek, Curtin University

A Healthway funded 3 year randomised controlled trial to test the efficacy of Animal Fun across 12 pre-primary schools in metropolitan and regional Western Australia. To date an initial analysis of motor development showed significant improvement in motor skills for those children who participated in the Animal Fun intervention when compared to children in the control schools who continued with their usual curriculum.

Animal Fun: A movement program at pre - primary level to promote physical and mental health (Pilot Study) 2006-2007

Emeritus Prof Jan Piek, Curtin University

Funded by a Healthway Starter Grant – this pilot study allowed Animal Fun to be developed and implemented in 3 schools in metropolitan and regional Western Australia as an initial pilot study. Results of analysis showed significant improvement in children’s social skills. Feedback from teachers was very positive, reporting that children loved the program and were happy participants.

Infant motor development project.

Emeritus Prof Jan Piek, Curtin University

The Infant Motor Development Project is a longitudinal study which investigated the motor skill development of infants and whether this predicted later outcomes such as cognitive ability and psychosocial areas. Infant motor skill development was tracked over the first few years of life and then these children were followed up once again at school-age. Results from the study revealed that early motor development, specifically gross motor skills, predicted school-age cognitive performance (i.e., working memory, processing speed) (Piek et al., 2008). The study also found that early gross motor development in infancy and early childhood also predicted emotional symptoms (i.e., anxiety and depression) in the school age children (Piek et al., 2010).