Preschool Children’s Self-Efficacy and Preferences for Outdoor Activity

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Sonja Trent-Brown, Hope College
Professor Vicki Voskuil, Hope College
Dr. Steven Smith, Hope College
Dr. Mark Northuis, Hope College

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This material is based upon work supported by the Hope College-Howard Hughes Medical Institute Faculty Development Grants for Interdisciplinary Research under grant No. G00024963.


Evidence suggests that children who spend more time outdoors are healthier, happier and smarter (Kellert, 2005; Wells, 2000). It is reasonable to consider that outdoor activity also influences the development of self-efficacy. Self-efficacy can be operationally defined as the children’s perceptions of personal agency and their capability of operating at tasks. There is no widely accepted method or instrument for assessing self-efficacy in preschoolers. The Preschool Assessment of Self Efficacy Scale (PASES) was developed specifically for use with this project and target population. The instrument was developed in accordance with Bandura’s (2006) guidelines for constructing self-efficacy measures for children. Outcomes for physical, cognitive, social, and self-help subscales are explored with respect to various demographic factors including age and gender. Self-efficacy scores are considered in relation to the children’s activity preferences as assessed by a picture selection task based on an activity preference measure developed by Leary (2009).

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