Promotion of movement-related health competence in physical education

Physical education (PE) plays a central role in empowering and motivating adolescents to lead a healthy, physically active lifestyle. In this respect, the promotion of health-related competence (i.e. health literacy) has been identified as a crucial aim of PE. To achieve this goal, experts in PE teaching methodology claim that PE has to go beyond pure physical training. Rather, practical components should be combined with action-related knowledge, and the subjective value of physical fitness and health should be addressed. However, in Germany, there is a lack of empirical research on the role of PE in promoting physical activity-related health competence. Indeed, international reviews show the short-term benefits of school-based physical activity interventions on students’ health-related fitness knowledge, as well as on physical fitness (e.g. cardiovascular function, muscle strength). However, it remains unknown the extent to which short-term acquisition of knowledge and physical fitness improvement can promote sustainable physical activity-related health competence. In addition, the role of the motivational factors in affecting the acquisition of health competence in PE is still unresolved. The proposed study analyses the effects of intervention programs that aim to promote physical activity-related health competence in PE by integrating theory and practice components regarding health and fitness issues. Two opposing interventions with six weekly sessions, over 90 minutes each, are planned for ninth grade classes in secondary schools. Students are provided with opportunities to develop physical activity-related health competence by either doing traditional forms of physical exercise (e.g. endurance training) on the one hand, or more innovative forms (e.g. small-sided games) on the other. In this way, students’ different motivational dispositions are addressed. Furthermore, two parallel control groups receiving regular PE are tested to evaluate the effectiveness of the interventions. The study design follows the standards of cluster-randomized controlled field trials. Therefore, an intensive collaboration between PE teaching methodology and empirical education sciences will be realized. In order to overcome the desiderata in competence-oriented research on PE (e.g. outcome assessments only focusing on factual knowledge or improvements of physical fitness), new instruments are applied to get more adequate information on physical activity-related health competence (e.g. an understanding of health-related fitness issues and a control competence in relation to adequate physical load). Furthermore, the analysis investigates the moderating role of students’ individual motivational dispositions. In addition, it examines the mediational effects of the learners’ utilization of the teaching content (e.g. self-determined motivation for learning and objectively assessed physical activity) on the acquisition of physical activity-related health competence.

Project management: Prof. Dr. Gorden Sudeck, Prof. Dr. Oliver Höner, Prof. Dr Ansgar Thiel, Prof. Dr. Yolanda Demetriou, Prof. Dr. Ulrich Trautwein

Project staff: Stephanie Haible, Carmen Volk


  • Volk, Carmen; Rosenstiel, Stephanie; Demetriou, Yolanda; Krustrup, Peter; Thiel, Ansgar; Trautwein, Ulrich; Wagner, Wolfgang; Höner, Oliver; Sudeck, Gorden: Effects of a physical education intervention programme for ninth-graders on physical activity-related health competence: findings from the GEKOS cluster randomised controlled trial. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 2021, 101923 more… Full text ( DOI )


  • Haible, Stephanie; Volk, Carmen; Demetriou, Yolanda; Höner, Oliver; Thiel, Ansgar; Sudeck, Gorden: Physical Activity-Related Health Competence, Physical Activity, and Physical Fitness: Analysis of Control Competence for the Self-Directed Exercise of Adolescents. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 17 (1), 2019, 39 more… Full text ( DOI )