Table of Contents
The System for Observing Play and Leisure Activity in Youth (SOPLAY) is based on momentary time sampling techniques in which systematic and periodic scans of individuals and contextual factors within pre-determined target areas are made. During a scan the activity of each individual is mechanically or electronically coded as Sedentary (lying down, sitting, or standing), Walking, or Very Active. Separate scans are made for females and males, and simultaneous entries are also made for time of day, temperature, area accessibility, area usability, presence of supervision, presence and classification of organized activity, and equipment availability. Summary counts describe the number of males and females in any given setting and their activity levels. The instrument permits physical activity level comparisons to be made among different environments or within the same environment over different time periods. Energy expenditure rates (Kcal/kg/min) can also be calculated based on previously validated constants for each level of activity. (Excerpt from McKenzie, 2006, ‘Description and Procedures Manual’)
Although no field-based validity study of the SOPLAY measure has been conducted, validity of the activity codes used by SOPLAY have been established through heart rate monitoring (McKenzie et al., 1991; Rowe, Schuldheism, & van der Mars, 1997). These provide support for the initial construct validity of SOPLAY.
Author of Tool:
Thomas L. McKenzie, Ph.D.
1. McKenzie, T. L., Marshall, S. J., Sallis, J. F., & Conway, T. L. (2000). Leisure-time physical activity in school environments: An observational study using SOPLAY. Preventive Medicine, 30, 70-77.
2. McKenzie, T. L., Sallis, & Nader, P. R. (1991). SOFIT: System for observing fitness instruction time. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 11, 195-205.
3. Rowe, P.J., Schuldheisz, J.M., & van der Mars, H. (1997). Measuring physical activity in physical education: Validation of the SOFIT direct observation instrument for use with first to eighth grade students. Pediatric Exercise Science, 9(2), 136-149.
4. Sallis, J. F., Conway, T. L., Prochaska, J. J., McKenzie, T. L., Marshall, S. & Brown, M. (2001). School environments are associated with youth physical activity. American Journal of Public Health, 91, 618-620.
5. McKenzie, T. L. (2005, November). Systematic Observation: SOPLAY/SOPARC Introduction, Practice, and Assessment. (27 minute DVD). San Diego State University, San Diego, California. (T. McKenzie, author, producer, narrator; D. Graves, editor). Available from Active Living Research, San Diego State University, 3900 Fifth Avenue, Suite 310, San Diego, CA 92103 (www.activelivingresearch.org) or the author.
Primary use / Purpose:
SOPLAY was designed to obtain observational data on the number of students and their physical activity levels during play and leisure opportunities in a specified activity area.
System for Observing Play and Leisure Activity in Youth
Description and Procedures Manual
Thomas L. McKenzie, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences San Diego State University
San Diego, CA 92182 [email protected]
Investigations of physical activity have been hampered by the lack of an objective tool for quantifying physical activity in “open” environments, such as recreational and leisure settings. Measuring activity in these environments is complicated because both the number of participants and their activity levels change frequently.
The System for Observing Play and Leisure Activity in Youth (SOPLAY) is based on momentary time sampling techniques in which systematic and periodic scans of individuals and contextual factors within pre-determined target areas are made. During a scan the activity of each individual is mechanically or electronically coded as Sedentary (lying down, sitting, or standing), Walking, or Very Active. Separate scans are made for females and males, and simultaneous entries are also made for time of day, temperature, area accessibility, area usability, presence of supervision, presence and classification of organized activity, and equipment availability.
Summary counts describe the number of males and females in any given setting and their activity levels. The instrument permits physical activity level comparisons to be made among different environments or within the same environment over different time periods. Energy expenditure rates (Kcal/kg/min) can also be calculated based on previously validated constants for each level of activity.
SOPLAY was designed to obtain observational data on the number of students and their physical activity levels during play and leisure opportunities in a specified activity area.
During the M-SPAN study, SOPLAY observations were be made before school (BS), during each lunch period (L), and after school (AS).
VALIDITY & RELIABILITY
Although no field-based validity study of the SOPLAY measure has been conducted, validity of the activity codes used by SOPLAY have been established through heart rate monitoring (McKenzie et al., 1991; Rowe, Schuldheism, & van der Mars, 1997). These provide support for the initial construct validity of SOPLAY. Providing measures of persistent behaviors (i.e., physical activity) are taken frequently and at random, momentary time sampling techniques have shown to yield valid behavioral samples (Ref). Because only brief episodes are recorded, response and recording occur simultaneously with observations occurring at an approximate rate of one child per second.
Reliability data for SOPLAY were collected during 14 days of field assessment. A pair of assessors would simultaneously and independently make counts of boys and girls in each activity category in selected target areas. Activity counts from a total of 186 target areas were used in the reliability analysis. Interobserver agreements for the five contextual variables were 95%, 97%, 93%, 96%, and 88%, for area accessibility, usability, presence of supervision, presence of organized activity, and provision of equipment, respectively. To examine the reliability of activity counts made by different assessors, a series of intraclass correlations were computed. Correlations were high for sedentary girls (R=.98) and walking girls (.95), although lower for counts of very active girls (.76). For boys, correlations were high for sedentary (.98), walking (.98), and very active (.97) behavior. It was concluded that all interobserver agreements and intraclass correlations met acceptable criteria (IOA=80%, R=.75) for reliable assessment.
- Direct observations will be made in designated Target Areas that represent all standard locations likely to provide opportunities for students to be physically These Areas will be predetermined and identified for observations prior to baseline assessments. A map will be provided to identify areas and a standard observation order established for each school. Additional target areas may be added by observers on site and then documented.
- During occasions of high student density, Target Areas will be subdivided into smaller Scan Spaces so that accurate measures can be obtained. Observers will use standard court or field markings to determine appropriate Scan Spaces within each Target Area. Data from these smaller spaces will be summed to provide an overall measure for each Target
NOTE: A decision to subdivide a Target Area depends upon the (1) number of students in the area and (2) the type of student activity. Fast moving activities with students clustered together and moving in diverse directions (e.g., during soccer and basketball), require smaller scan spaces.
- Prior to leaving for the school, prepare observation materials including: synchronized wristwatch, counter, clipboard, sufficient SOPLAY recording forms, and
- Arrive at the school site at least 60 minutes prior to the official start of school. Review the sequence for observing Target Visit each Target Area in order and plan how to sub- divided it into Scan Spaces if necessary. Prepare mentally by scanning each area a few times.
SOPLAY CODES and RECORDING
Reliability Circle 'NO" unless you are the second observer and your data will serve as a reliability measure.
Temp. Enter Fahrenheit temperature at the start of the observation period.
Period Circle a number to designate whether observations were made before school (BS), at lunch time (L), or after school (AS).
Start time Enter the start time (2400 hours) of the sweep for that designated area.
Area Refers to the number of a previously designated School Target Area (see school map). If necessary, add an additional area, describe it, and give it a new number.
Condition Circle N or Y to describe specific conditions for each designated observation area. If a Target Area is inaccessible (A=N), do not code the other four conditions.
A = Area is accessible (e.g., not locked or rented to others)
U = Area is usable for physical activity (e.g., is not excessively wet or windy).
S = Area is supervised by designated school or adjunct (e.g., YMCA) personnel (e.g., teachers, playground supervisors, volunteers). The supervisor must be in or adjacent to that specific area (i.e., available to direct students and respond to emergencies), but does not have to be instructing, officiating, or organizing activities.
O = Organized physical activity (i.e., scheduled, with leadership by school or agency personnel apparent) is occurring in the area (e.g., intramurals, interscholastic practices, fitness stations).
E = Equipment provided by the school or other agency is present (e.g., balls, jump ropes). Do not code 'YES' if the only equipment is permanent (e.g., basketball hoops) or is owned by students themselves.
S W V S = Sedentary; W = Walking; V = Very Active
Act. Enter the activity code (or name) for the most prominent physical activity that girls and boys are participating in within designated area.
Physical activity codes for secondary schools:
- no specific activity (sit, stand, walk)
- aerobics (dance, step aerobics) racquet sports (tennis, badminton)
- baseball/softball soccer
- basketball swimming
- dance (ballet, country, line) volleyball
- football weight training/lifting
- gymnastics playground games (e.g., tetherball, 4-square)
- martial arts (judo, karate) none of the activities above (e.g., track) Comments. Describe any events or features that may help explain any of the above data. Alternative physical activity codes for young children:
- no specific activity (sit, stand, walk) jumping games
- fitness/aerobics (dance/step aerobics) manipulative games/racquet activities
- baseball/softball sedentary games/activities
- basketball/volleyball none of the other ten categories
- dance/gymnastics tag/chasing games
- On the observation form, enter the School ID, the Date, Observer ID, if it was a Reliability assessment, the Temperature, and the Period of assessment. Enter the Start Time for each Area scan (or scan space).
- Record the contextual variables for each area (see SOPLAY codes).
- Scan each entire target area for Girls, using the mechanical counter to record the number of Sedentary, Walking, and Very Active Classify the predominant type of Activity occurring using the codes at the bottom of the SOPLAY Observation Form. Transfer these data to the SOPLAY Observation Form and reset the counter. Repeat for Boys. Record empty Target Areas by entering 0 (zero) into the SAV columns.
- Always scan from LEFT to RIGHT. Observe each student in the area once. If an observed student reappears in the scan area, do not record a second time. Do not back-track to count new children entering the scan
BEFORE SCHOOL OBSERVATIONS
The objective is to obtain an accurate measure of the number of students engaged in physical activity before school starts. The last scan should begin 15 minutes before the school starts. Begin at School Start minus 40 minutes (with 6 Target Areas), minus 30 minutes (with 4 Target Areas), or minus 25 minutes (with 3 Target Areas).
The objective is to obtain an accurate measure of the number of students engaged in physical activity at lunchtime (outside of required physical education). There are two complete rotations of scans during lunchtime. The first rotation begins at Lunch Start plus 15 minutes. Always begin at Area 1 at start time. If a physical education class is occurring in a target area, record the area “accessible=No.” The second rotation of scans begins at Lunch Start plus 25 minutes.
AFTER SCHOOL OBSERVATIONS
The objective is to obtain an accurate measure of the number of students engaged in physical activity beginning at School End plus 15, 45, and 75 minutes. Start at Area 1 at specified start time; then walk directly to subsequent Areas in designated rotation.
Sample Schedule (9:00 School Start; 4 target areas; 3 lunch periods)
8:00-8:20am check Target areas, prepare data forms
8:25 am initiate SCAN in Target Area 1 (following established sequence) 8:30 am initiate SCAN in Target Area 2 (continue established sequence) 8:55 am first school (warning) bell rings
9:00 am school start
11:30 Lunch one (initiate SCAN 1 in Target Area 1 at 11:45)
(initiate SCAN 2 in Target Area 1 at 11:55) 12:00 Lunch two (initiate SCAN in Target Area 1 at 12:15)
(initiate SCAN 2 in Target Area 1 at 12:25) 12:30 Lunch three (initiate SCAN in Target Area 1 at 12:45)
(initiate SCAN 2 in Target Area 1 at 12:55)
15:00 School Ends
15:15 initiate SCAN in Target Area 1, continue
15:45 initiate SCAN in Target Area 1, continue
16:15 initiate SCAN in Target Area 1, continue
- Depending on the unit of analysis (gender, area, period, school, ), raw counts in each activity level are aggregated (sums or means) according to the variables of interest.
Example: To calculate the most active areas for boys and girls at a school during a given day
- Reduce lunchtime data. Calculate mean activity counts from the double-scan data to provide a single count for each activity level of boys and girls for each lunch period. For multiple lunches, sum these counts across periods to compute a single lunch count for boys and girls for each level of student
- Sum across school day. Aggregating by area, calculate a mean for each activity level (boys and girls separately) across all periods observed (i.e., before school, lunchtime, after school) to arrive at single counts for boys and girls at each level of activity in each
- Calculate energy expenditure rates. To estimate kilocalories/kg expended, the number of children counted in the sedentary, walking, and very active categories are multiplied by the constants .051kcal/kg/min, .096kcal/kg/min, and .144kcal/kg/min, respectively. Kilocalories/kg from each category can be summed to provide a measure of the total kilocalories/kg expended by children in a given These values can be interpreted as the number of kilocalories per kg of body weight per minute expended in each area during the school day. These energy expenditure rates are dependent on the number of children observed. Arrange means in descending order.
Target Area - A predetermined observation area in which students may potentially engage in physical activity. A number of Target Areas will be established for each school.
Scan Space - A subdivision of a Target Area in which the assessor makes an observation scan.
Target Areas are subdivided into Scan Spaces when the number of students is large and they are engaged actively.
Scan - A single observation movement from left to right across a Target Area or Scan space.
During a sweep, each individual student in the area is counted and coded as being Sedentary (S), Walking (W), or Very Active (V).
McKenzie, T. L., Marshall, S. J., Sallis, J. F., & Conway, T. L. (2000). Leisure-time physical activity in school environments: An observational study using Preventive Medicine, 30, 70-77.
McKenzie, T. L., Sallis, & Nader, R. (1991). SOFIT: System for observing fitness instruction time. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 11, 195-205.
Rowe, P.J., Schuldheisz, J.M., & van der Mars, H. (1997). Measuring physical activity in physical education: Validation of the SOFIT direct observation instrument for use with first to eighth grade Pediatric Exercise Science, 9(2), 136-149.
Sallis, J. F., Conway, T. L., Prochaska, J. J., McKenzie, T. L., Marshall, S. & Brown, M. (2001). School environments are associated with youth physical American Journal of Public Health, 91, 618-620.
McKenzie, T. L. (2005, November). Systematic Observation: SOPLAY/SOPARC Introduction, Practice, and Assessment. (27 minute DVD). San Diego State University, San Diego, (T. McKenzie, author, producer, narrator; D. Graves, editor). Available from Active Living Research, San Diego State University, 3900 Fifth Avenue, Suite 310, San Diego, CA 92103 (www.activelivingresearch.org) or the author.
SOPLAY (System for Observing Play and Leisure Activity in Youth)
Obs. ID #: Reliability: 0. No 1. Yes Temp: F Period: 1. BS 2. L1s1 L1s2 3. L2s1 L2s2 4. L
S W V Act.
- 0=No identifiable activity
- 8=Racquet sports
- 12=Weight Training
- 13=Other playground games
SAMPLE SOPLAY/SOPARC MAPPING STRAGEGIES
This document provides examples for the initial mapping of Target Areas.
Procedures for Describing Target Areas
- Obtain a detailed map from school (PARK)
- Walk throughout the entire school
- Indicate precisely (draw) on the map each area that is available for physical activity anytime (e.g., before school, during lunch, and after Include areas that are used for physical education classes too.
- Be sure to include all Target Areas, including: (a) basketball, volleyball, tennis, handball, and wall ball courts;
(b) tracks, baseball, hockey, soccer, and other playing fields; (c) gymnasiums, weight training and multipurpose rooms; (d) grass, dirt, cement, matted, tiled or carpeted areas specifically available for users (e.g., students) to be physically active.
- Number the Target Areas sequentially--in the specific order they will be observed during each rotation Establish a logical route (e.g., The first Target Area is the one closest to the main cafeteria door).
- Store the finalized map of Target Areas in a specific “records”
- Occasionally it may be necessary to add or delete a Target Area (e.g., campus/park construction). Designate only ONE person to add/delete Target Areas (e.g., the leader of the field observation team). This person makes the changes on the master map and provides revised copies to field observation team
Sample Operational Definitions of Environmental Variables (for Schools)
This section provides definitions and instructions to be used in completing mapping variables identified on the data collection sheet (see attached).
I. Fixed Setting:
Code Target Area as either (1) Indoors or (2) Outdoors.
II. Location of Target Area:
On School Campus. Area within the designated school boundaries.
Adjacent to Campus = Area, typically within an adjacent park or community center, used by students for school-related activities.
III. Area Type:
Assign each Area one of these codes. If not sure of the correct code, complete the comments box at bottom of data form.
- Court Space: area marked for basketball, tennis, volleyball, and/or other court games. Contains permanent markings specifically for court
- Play space: Self-contained outdoor area designated for physical
- Field. Large open area designed for It may or may not have goals, backstops, etc.; cannot be described as a Court space.
- Pool: consists of a wading or swimming pool and the surrounding enclosed
- Weight room: specifically designated room that is equipped with strength/endurance machines (e.g., weight machines (e.g., nautilus), free-weights, bench press) and/or aerobic machines such as stair- steppers and stationary
- Gymnasium: large indoor space primarily for physical activity and game It may or may not have seating for spectators.
- and 8. Multipurpose room/Auditorium: designated indoor spaces that can be used for multiple functions, including physical activity, plays, and eating.
IV. Area Improvements:
Improvements are permanent modifications to areas such as lines painted on courts (e.g., basketball, tennis, and four-square courts); cuts in grass or field areas (e.g., baseball diamonds); poles or holes in the cement/blacktop for poles or standards (e.g., basketball hoops; tether-ball and volleyball poles, tennis standards, football goal-posts).
Do not record for temporary improvements (e.g., temporary chalk lines for field games, portable nets for tennis and volleyball, portable soccer goals).
An improvement identifies what the area is primarily designed for, regardless of how it is used at a particular time. For example, a tennis court is recorded as a tennis court—even if children are playing soccer on it.
- Two erect poles are often used for football and soccer Two posts = one goal.
- A basketball court consist of a hoop plus permanent lines painted on the Surface Area
- Each half of a basketball court is counted as Each hoop is counted as one.
- When there is a basketball hoop without a painted court, or if there is only a shooting key or foul line painted, record only the The numbers for hoops and for half-courts are not always equal.
- The number of diamonds and backstops may not always be equal.
- A wallball court is a single erected wall. It could be the back of racquetball courts if a court is also specifically painted for
- A racquetball court must have walls on at least three
- A volleyball court has two tall permanent poles separating areas about 30’ by 30’ (one court).
- A tennis court has two short poles and equal amount of play space on both sides of poles (one court).
- All climbing apparatus within 50 feet of each other and in the same Target Area are counted as one. If the items are widely separated (i.e., beyond 50 feet), count each group of climbing apparatus as a separate
- Record a baseball/softball diamond only if the diamond is a dirt area surrounded by grass, and places for the bases (home, first, second, third) are permanently marked. Do not record partial cut-outs (e.g., for home-base only) or temporary bases thrown on a “field” to make a
V. Improvement Overlap:
Record yes (1) to identify Target Area has multiple improvements that overlap within the same space but cannot be used simultaneously. For instance, record 1 if the court space has poles and/or painted lines that could be used to identify games for basketball, tennis, and volleyball (but not simultaneously).
VI. Surface Area:
sand: particles smaller than gravel, but coarser than silt (i.e., beach).
dirt: earth, soil; dusty when dry and not impacted.
gravel: loose, broken small fragments of rock.
mats: rubber or plastic coverings of floor or ground (e.g., for tumbling, etc).
cement grass carpet tile water wood
other (specify, e.g., tarmac).
Sample Data Collection: Procedures for Environmental Assessments
Before going to map Target Areas be sure to have data collection forms, 2 pencils with erasers, and a school map. Make certain to record/number the proper Target Area sequence on the data collection form.
Enter School ID number, Date, Observer ID number, and whether or not the form is a reliability assessment. Under Reliabilities circle “0” for primary observer and “1” for the reliability observer.
Complete the following variables for each Target Area. If an Area is locked or under construction, schedule an additional appointment.
Fixed Setting: Identify as either indoors or outdoors.
Location: Record whether Target Area is part of the school campus or adjacent to it.
Area Type: Select only one code. If none are appropriate, enter code 9 and describe the type.
Area Improvements: Count the number of improvements and record in the appropriate box(s)
For example, walk around the entire Target Area #1, count the number of basketball half courts, record this number in the space under the column for Target Area 1 and across the row for basketball courts (half courts). Count and record the quantity for each Improvement type in each different Target Area.
Improvement Overlap: Code 1= Yes if any of the improvements overlap each other or are dual-use improvements in the same Target Area (i.e., Target Area has both basketball court markings and tennis court poles and markings, but the two games cannot be played simultaneously). If different games can be played at the same time they are not considered overlapping, therefore code 0 = No.
Area surface: (surface codes are listed near the bottom of the data collection form):
Primary = Most dominant ground surface within each Target Area (i.e., 51% or greater).
Secondary = Second most prominent surface area (if there is one). (E.g., dirt track surrounds a grassy field). Record "0" if there is no secondary surface.
Area Size: Use a standard measuring wheel. Enter the square footage/meters for each Target Area.
Mapping Training and Reliability
Training for mapping should include:
- Explanation of variables and the coding conventions (rules).
- Demonstration of how to complete Mapping Variables on the data collection forms (use pictures of actual school Target Areas).
- Presentation of pictures of different variables on the data collection form. Observers will record responses to the pictures on Mapping Variable data collection forms. Inter-observer agreements will be tallied and percentage agreement Observers will train until 90% agreement is achieved.
- Discuss discrepancies, refinement of definitions, and protocol recommendations. Note discrepancies (inter- observer disagreements), tally, and discuss until 100% agreement is
- Trained mappers should go to schools/parks in teams of two (a Primary and a Reliability assessor). Each
observer should individually assess and record for Fixed Setting, Location, Area Type, Area Improvements, Area Overlap, and Surface Area for each Target Area. They should then resolve any differences before leaving the location.
Mapping Variables Data Collection Sheet
|Park ID:||Date||Observer ID: Reliability? 1. Yes; 0 No;|
|1= indoor, 2= outdoor|
|1=school campus 2= adjacent to campus|
|1=Court Space 2=Play Space 3=Field 4=Pool 5=Weight Room 6=Gymnasium 7=Multipurpose 8=Auditorium 9=Other|
|Area Improvements: (code total #)||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8|
|a. Basketball Hoops|
|b. Basketball Half Courts|
|c. Wall-ball Courts|
|d. Racquet ball Courts|
|e. Volleyball Courts|
|f. Tennis Courts|
|h. Tetherball poles|
|j. Climbing Apparatus|
|k Baseball/Softball Diamond|
|l. Baseball/Softball Backstop|
|m. Exercise Stations|
|n. Long-jump Pits|
|o. Football Goal (each goal post)|
|p. Soccer Goal (each goal post)|
|q. Other (specify)|
|Improvement Overlap: Yes =1 No =0|
|Surface Area: A. Primary|
1 = black top 3 = cement 5 = carpet 7 = wood 9 = gravel 11 = water
2 = dirt 4 = grass 6 = mats 8 = tile
|Area Size: (square footage)|