Self-regulation mechanism in sporting elementary schoolchildren

PhD, Associate Professor O.V. Solodyankina1
PhD, Associate Professor T.F. Vostroknutova1
1Udmurt State University, Izhevsk

Keywords: self-regulation, psychological mechanisms, sporting schoolchildren.

Background. It is typical for the elementary school age to demonstrate immature and unpredictable behavioral models, poor thinking, action planning and reflective abilities, and other constituents of a conscientious self-regulation process. Studies of the social and mental elements of the self-regulation mechanisms formation process in the performance-centered context were run in our country by M. Bobneva, Y. Shorokhova, V. Yadov et al. They interpret self-regulation ability as the systemic internal mental control function geared to design, balance and manage a wide range of individual activities driven by the individual/ group agenda and goals [2]. V.P. Boyarintsev defines self-regulation as the individual mental activity securing and balancing mechanism/ toolkit, with activity and self-regulation viewed as the interrelated and complementary constituents of the process where the activity implies movement and variation, and the self-regulation means the activity balancing and securing element [1].

Sports are currently ranked among the most efficient self-regulation ability development tools of special benefits for schoolchildren of every age. Sports for the elementary school children may be described as (1) the socializing activity with the relevant physical/ mental developmental and health benefits in many domains including the interpersonal communication/ cooperation skills and experiences; plus cultivating social values such as compassion, empathy, progress etc. and (3) the active creative process that facilitates the individual physical progress, competitive spirit and sporting lifestyle formation via the trainings, field events, competitions, active travels etc.

Objective of the study was to analyze the mental self-regulation toolkit development process in elementary school children.

Methods and structure of the study. Sampled for the study were 46 elementary school children split up in: Group 1 of non-parented children (n=23) from a boarding school; and Group 2 of parented children (n=23) from general education schools, with every sampled child attending a sport school. We applied for the study purposes the A.K. Osnitsky Self-regulation Ability Questionnaire and expert assessments.

Study findings and discussion. Group 1 self-regulation tests verified by the expert assessments yielded the following test rates: total score (-335), group average (-24), highest individual score (+4), lowest individual score (-78); with the skill-specific averages varying from 0.4 to (-2.1). Rated highest among the self-regulation elements were the appreciation driven motivations (+0.4); and sensitivity to tutorial efforts (+0.4). It is normal for children to expect their competitive successes being appreciated by adults and peers, and many of them tend to self-rate their progress only in this aspect, being at the same time highly sensitive to friendly comments and explanations and responsive to requirements. Rated lowest rated among the self-regulation elements were the situation modeling (-1.9), action programming (-2.1) and outcome assessment (-2.0) skills; plus the self-regulation on the whole (-2.0); and independence in decisions and actions (-1.9). Group 1 children were found generally unprepared to find on their own what inputs are needed for one or another mission; what problems they may face on the way; how to find the major things/ aspects and separate them from the secondary ones; and how to design their activity. In addition, they were mostly unable to cope with the challenging tasks without help; and dependent in their actions on adults; and these are the reasons why they largely fail to assess outcomes of their actions and badly need kindness, encouragement, appreciation and group support.

Group 2 self-regulation tests verified by the expert assessments yielded the following test rates: total score (+1147), group average (+50), highest individual score (+79), lowest individual score (-4); with the skill-specific averages varying from 2.3 to 6.3. Rated highest among the self-regulation elements were the sensitivity to tutorial efforts (+3.3), situation modeling (+3,0), and activity management (+2.9) skills; good habits mobilizing in self-regulation process (+2.8); self-regulation process practicality and stability (+2,7); and adequacy of the self-regulation efforts (+2.7). Furthermore, Group 2 was tested with high sensitivity to comments; good ability to distinguish the key things/ aspects from secondary ones; good understanding of the upcoming work; and good sequencing skills; plus they are mostly accurate, attentive, patient, prepared to analyze the reasons for their errors and stick to the agreed plans; and prepared to mobilize their resource when necessary. Rated lowest among the self-regulation elements were the confidence in the own actions (+1.2); independence (+1.3), initiative (+1.4); and the ability to detail the self-regulation process (+1.5). These test data may be indicative of this age group being still in need of support from adults in the decision-making process; and at the same time dependent on the interpersonal relations in the group; that means that the children expect appreciation both from the authoritative adults and peers. It should be noted that some children in the Group may omit some minor things in their performance; albeit require no detailed explanations.

The nonparametric MannWhitney U-test of the statistical null hypothesis showed meaningful (p<0.05) differences in the group test data arrays, with the data analysis demonstrating the Group 2 leadership in the self-regulation skills. In the final stage of the study, we made a correlation analysis of the test data on every test scale to find the mental self-regulation tools in the sample. The correlation analysis of the data arrays found that the both Groups are similar in the general self-regulation logics that imply a sequence of easy tasks being programmed by some standard algorithms authorized by an adult; and this is the way for a child, acting on an increasingly self-reliant basis, to plan, execute, analyze and adjust his/ her performance. Group 1 was tested to give priority to the following self-regulation tools: goal setting; self-criticism in every deed and action; responsibility; practicality and stability of the performance control process; and the reasonable sequencing of elementary tasks. Group 1 was tested to give priority to the following self-regulation tools: action programming; detailed performance control; reasonable caution; reliance on good habits; adequacy of the performance control efforts; and reasonable sequencing of elementary tasks.

The other categorized group-specific self-regulation tools may be explained by influences of the education/ nurturing environments in the general education/ boarding/ sport schools and the dominating teaching/ training styles, policies and attitudes. Non-parented children at boarding schools are generally in need of a higher care and attention from adults as they are too often left alone. This loneliness is compensated by grouping trends, with the groups developing their own rules and subcultures even at sport schools, with the subcultures being rather influential on the self-regulation toolkit building process. The children are still generally sensitive to the teachers/ tutors commissions, requirements and expectations; and are capable to plan and manage their activity and correct errors being sensitive to comments and recommendations; and cope with misfortunes/ blunders to attain the goals.

Parented Group 2, unlike Group 1, enjoys high care and attention from the families, trainers and teachers and, hence, was tested well prepared to take responsibility for the own progress; effectively attain the goals; rely on the own initiative with a reasonable sensitivity to comments; and adjust the performance when necessary. On the other hand, the high attention from adults makes this Group more dependent on them i.e. less self-reliant in the decision-making. This is the reason why the parented Group 2 tends to avoid the performance risks acting on commissions, tasks and requirements from adults; differentiate the preparations (first ‘for myself’ and then ‘how required’); and abide by the rules. In doing so, the parented children are still quite effective in finding the best ways out of different situations and taking into account every detail and risk, all pros and cons of their decisions; and are quite accurate, attentive and abiding by the rules.  

Conclusion. The article analyzes findings of our own studies of the psychological self-regulation mechanism in sporting elementary school children. It was found that the mechanisms in the non-parented children from orphanages versus parented children from general education schools are different in terms of the mental control tools. The non-parented orphans were found focused on the expected results of the process rather than its contents, whilst the parented children were tested much more interested in the process as such. The self-regulation mechanisms of the parented children, therefore, were tested reasonably high developed to provide a basis for the other self-regulation qualities and abilities; versus the non-parented children who were tested with the low self-regulation mechanisms development rates i.e. underdevelopments in every self-regulation element tested under the study. Having summarized findings of our own and other studies, we should underline the high promise of the study subject albeit many issues of the self-regulation mechanisms development process in the sporting schoolchildren still need to be explored.

References

  1. Boyarintsev V.P. Strukturno-funktsionalny analiz dinamicheskikh proyavleniy samoregulyatsii povedeniya cheloveka [Structural and functional analysis of dynamic manifestations of human self-regulation]. Psikhologiya aktivnosti i samoregulyatsii povedeniya i deyatelnosti cheloveka [Psychology of activity and self-regulation of behavior and human activity]. Sverdlovsk, 1989, 40 p.
  2. Lemeshchenko M.Y. Samoregulyatsiya lichnosti spetsialista kak psikhologicheskaya problema [Self-regulation of specialist personality of as psychological problem]. Sb. statey po mater. XXVII mezhdunar. nauch.-prakt. konf. ‘Lichnost, semya i obshchestvo: voprosy pedagogiki i psikhologii’ [Proc. XXVII Intern. res.-practical conf. 'Personality, family and society: questions of pedagogics and psychology']. Novosibirsk: SibAC publ., 2013.

Corresponding author: osolodyankina@mail.ru

Abstract

The study was designed to analyze the self-regulation toolkit development process in the elementary school children – since these mechanisms are given a growing attention to by the modern psychological theory and practice. A special attention in the study is given to the notion and interpretation of the self-regulation toolkit in the performance-centered context, with sports considered among the core activities beneficial for the elementary school children. The article analyzes findings of our own studies of the psychological self-regulation mechanism in sporting elementary school children. It was found that the mechanisms in the non-parented children from orphanages versus parented children from general education schools are different in terms of the mental control tools. The non-parented orphans were found focused on the expected results of the process rather than its contents, whilst the parented children were tested much more interested in the process as such. The self-regulation mechanisms of the parented children, therefore, were tested reasonably high developed to provide a basis for the other self-regulation qualities and abilities; versus the non-parented children who were tested with the low self-regulation mechanisms development rates i.e. underdevelopments in every self-regulation element tested under the study. Having summarized findings of our own and other studies, we should underline the high promise of the study subject albeit many issues of the self-regulation mechanisms development process in the sporting schoolchildren still need to be explored.