physical education, MOBAK 1, instrument, assessment, motor competence
Children’s motor competence is known to have a determinant role in learning and engaging later in complex motor skills and, thus, in physical activity. The development of adequate motor competence is a central aim of physical education, and assuring that pupils are learning and developing motor competence depends on accurate assessment protocols. The MOBAK 1 test battery is a recent instrument developed to assess motor competence in primary physical education. This study used the MOBAK 1 to explore motor competence levels and gender differences among 249 (Mage = 6.3, SD = 0.5 years; 127 girls and 122 boys) Grade 1 primary school Portuguese children. On independent sample t tests, boys presented higher object movement motor competence than girls (boys: M = 5.8, SD = 1.7; girls: M = 4.0, SD = 1.7; p < .001), while girls were more proficient among self-movement skills (girls: M = 5.1, SD = 1.8; boys: M = 4.3, SD = 1.7; p < .01). On “total motor competence,” boys (M = 10.3, SD = 2.6) averaged one point ahead of girls (M = 9.1, SD = 2.9). The percentage of girls in the first quartile of object movement was 18.9%, while, for “self movement,” the percentage of boys in the first quartile was almost double that of girls (30.3% and 17.3%, respectively). The confirmatory model to test for construct validity confirmed the assumed theoretical two-factor structure of MOBAK 1 test items in this Portuguese sample. These results support the MOBAK 1 instrument for assessing motor competence and highlighted gender differences, of relevance to intervention efforts.