First-nation Australian children’s interpretation of a pictorial questionnaire designed to assess physical literacy

Chathurani De Silva, Melanie Hawkins, Emiliano Mazzoli, Inimfon Essiet, Lisa M. Barnett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: The Physical Literacy in Children Questionnaire (PL-C Quest) is a pictorial tool designed to measure children’s self-reported physical literacy. It measures 30 elements within the four domains (physical, psychological, cognitive, and social) of the Australian Physical Literacy Framework (APLF). The development study of the PL-C Quest only included children from non-Indigenous backgrounds living in a metropolitan city. Hence, little is known about how Indigenous children living in regional and rural areas understand and engage with the items. 

Purpose: The study aims to determine if Indigenous children living in regional and rural areas in Australia understand the items in the PL-C Quest (test content) and if they cognitively engaged with the items (response processes) as intended by the APLF definitions. 

Methods: The study followed a qualitative descriptive approach. The PL-C Quest includes an orange cartoon bunny carrying out 30 scenarios with accompanying statements. Each scenario has one bunny rabbit doing the activity well and the other bunny not so well. Cognitive interviews were conducted based on verbal probing using Tourangeau’s four-stage cognitive model (comprehension, retrieval, judgment, and response). In the regional town, nine Indigenous children were interviewed one on one in after-school sessions. In the rural town, 12 Indigenous children enrolled in the school programme of a sports provider were interviewed in pairs or small groups. All individual and group interviews were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. All transcripts were coded using the NVivo12 software. Each cognitive action of Tourangeau’s model, comprehension, retrieval, judgment, and response, became a coding category. Responses coded into each category were further categorised into sub-categories. For instance, ‘Understood as intended’, ‘Partially understood’, and ‘Misunderstood’ were subcategories for comprehension; ‘skills’ and ‘past events and experiences’ were for retrieval; ‘confident and unconfident’ were for judgement; and ‘justify’ and ‘unable to justify’ were subcategories for response category. Once the first author completed the analysis of the children’s responses to items, the other two authors’ part of the data collection confirmed the accuracy of the coding. 

Findings: Overall, children in both sites understood most of the content of the items as intended. In addition, they could retrieve relevant information when responding to the items. For example, a few children reflected on their ability to play a ball-throwing Indigenous game and carry younger siblings when responding to the items, ‘Object Manipulation’ and ‘Strength’, respectively. Also, most children confidently selected the bunny that represented them more in all 30 items and were able to justify their responses. 

Conclusion: The study is the first to generate validity evidence for the PL-C Quest when used with Indigenous children in regional and rural Australia. The findings demonstrate that this pictorial scale may be a suitable tool to collect data about the physical literacy of Indigenous children living in regional and rural areas–subject to further testing with a larger population. Future research may provide evidence on other sources of validity. For instance, whether these domains uphold the measured construct, physical literacy (internal structure), with Indigenous children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)(In-Press)
Number of pages15
JournalPhysical Education and Sport Pedagogy
Early online date21 Nov 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way. The terms on which this article has been published allow the posting of the Accepted Manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent.


This work was supported by Deakin University.


  • pictorial scale
  • motor skills
  • Indigenous
  • self-report
  • tool testing
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
  • cognitive interviews


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