Research

Research Goals

  • Examining supportive physical and social environment, achievement motivation, physical activity, and health outcomes in the school and community settings
  • Assessing physical activity, sedentary behavior, physical fitness, motor performance, and health outcomes in the laboratory and field settings
  • Studying determinants/correlates of physical activity, sedentary behavior, and physical fitness in school-aged children and young adults
  • Quantifying the impact of physical activity, sedentary behavior, and obesity on individuals’ health and quality of life
  • Examining the dynamic relationships between children’s physical activity, sedentary behavior, physical fitness, motor performance, and academic performance
  • Conducting empirical research on the effects of innovative physical activity interventions on school-aged children’ health
  • Investigating school-based and community-based interventions to promote children’s physical activity, physical fitness, motor performance, cognitive and social development
  • Investigating effective curriculum and instruction in physical education/activity to facilitate pre-service teachers’ or coaches’ professional development
  • Training highly qualified graduate students in the area of sport pedagogy to expand the research capacity in this area

Research Capacity

  • Supportive Environments and Physical Activity/Health Promotion
  • Achievement Motivation in Physical Education/Activity
  • Physical Activity Assessment (Surveys, Pedometers, Accelerometers)
  • Motor Performance Measurement (PE Metrics, TGMD-2)
  • Health-related Physical Fitness/Quality of Life Assessment
  • Academic Performance and Executive Function Evaluation
  • Physical Activity Interventions and Childhood Obesity Prevention
  • Pre-service Teachers’ Perceptions, Knowledge and Skills

Research Agenda

  • Physical Activity and Health Promotion, especially Underserved Population
  • Physical Activity Interventions and Childhood Obesity Prevention
  • Teaching and Learning in Physical Education/Activity and Sport
  • Pre-service Teacher/Coach Professional Development

Selected Funded Projects

Gu, X., & Keller, J. (2017-2018). Promoting Physical Activity and Quality of Life among Individual with Intellectual Disabilities.” Denton MHMR Research Contract. (Funded)

Gu, X. (2016-2018). Understanding Chinese Children's Academic Achievement: A Physical and Psychological Perspective." ZIME Research Grant. (Funded)

Chu, T. L., & Zhang, T. (2017-2018). Can Empowering and Disempowering Climates Predict Student Athletes’ Health-Related Outcomes? Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE America) Research Grant. (Mentee, Funded)

Chu, T. L., & Zhang, T. (2017-2018). Reducing Amotivation and Improving Motivational Outcomes in High School Athletes: The Roles of Coaches, Teammates, and Parents. Applied Association of Sport Psychology (AASP) Research Grant. (Mentee, Funded)

Gu, X., Zhang, T., & Thomas, K. (2014-2015). Do Physically Literate Adolescents Have Better Academic Performance? Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE America) Early Career Investigator Research Grant. (Funded)

Gu, X., & Zhang, T. (2014-2015). The Impact of Physical Activity and Fitness on Adolescents’ Mental Health. Junior Faculty Summer Research Award. The Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. University of North Texas. (Funded) 

Gu, X., Thomas, K., & Zhang, T. (2014-2015). Research Collaboration and International Student Teacher Exchange Program between UNT and East China Normal University. UNT Provost’s Venture Fund for China. (Funded)

Zhang, T., & Thomas, K. (2013-2014). Social Ecological Analysis of Physical Activity and Quality of Life in Low-Income Hispanic Children. Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE America) Early Career Investigator Research Grant. (Funded)

Zhang, T., Thomas, K., Martin, S., & Gu, X. (2013-2014). Impact of Neighborhood Environments on Low-income Hispanic Children’s Physical Activity and Health. UNT Research Opportunity Grant (ROG). (Funded)

Zhang, T., Thomas, K., & Collins, J. (2012-2013). Promoting Children's Physical Activity and Health-related Quality of Life: An Ecological Perspective. UNT Research Initiation Grant (RIG). (Funded)

Zhang, T., Thomas, K., & Weiller, K. (2011-2012). Designing School Environments to Promote Elementary School Students’ Physically Active Lifestyles. UNT Research Initiation Grant (RIG). (Funded)

Selected Publications

Gu, X. Chen, Y., Jackson, A. & Zhang, T. (2017). Impact of a pedometer-based goal setting intervention on children’s motivation, motor competence, and physical activity in physical education. Physician Education and Sport Pedagogy.

Gu X., Keller, M.J., Weiller, K., & Zhang, T. (2017). The roles of physical activity and sedentary behavior on Hispanic children’s mental health: A motor skill perspective. Quality of Life Research.

Gu, X., Thomas, K., Chen, Y. (2017). The role of perceived and actual motor competency on children’s physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness during middle childhood. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 36 (4), 388-397. 

Zhang, T., Dunn, J., Morrow, J., & Greenleaf, C. (2017). Ecological analysis of female college women’s physical activity and health-related quality of life. Women & Health.

Zhang, T., Gu, X., Burgett, J., Keller, J., & Zhang, X. (2017). The role of built environments on children’s sedentary behavior: A social ecological perspective. World Journal of Preventive Medicine. 

Gu, X., & Solmon, M. A. (2016). Motivational processes of children's physical activity and quality of Life. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 21, 407-424.

Gu, X. (2016). Fundamental motor skill, physical activity and sedentary behavior in socioeconomically disadvantaged Kindergarteners. Psychology, Health & Medicine, 21, 871-881.

Gu, X., Chang M., & Solmon, M. A. (2016). Physical activity, physical fitness, and health-related quality of life in school-aged children. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 35, 117-126.

Zhang, T., Xiang, P., Gu, X., & Rose, M. (2016). College students’ physical activity and health-related quality of life: An achievement goal perspective. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 87, 182-190. 

Gu, X., & Solmon, M. A. (2015). Motivational processes of children's physical activity and quality of Life. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy. 1-18.

Zhang, T., Thomas, K., & Weiller, K. (2015). Predicting physical activity in 10-12 year old children: A social ecological approach. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 34, 517-536.

Gu, X., Solmon, M. A., & Zhang, T. (2014). Understanding middle school students’ physical activity and health-related quality of life: An expectancy-value perspective. Applied Research in Quality of Life, 9, 1041-1054.

Gao, Z., Zhang, T., & Stodden, D. (2013). Children’s physical activity levels and psychological correlates in interactive dance versus aerobic dance. Journal of Sport and Health Science, 2, 146-151.   

Zhang, T., & Solmon, M. A. (2013). Integrating self-determination theory with the social ecological model to understand students’ physical activity behaviors. International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 6, 54-76.

Gu, X., Solmon, M. A., & Zhang, T. (2012). Using expectancy-value model to examine students’ physical activity engagement and cardiovascular fitness in physical education. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 43, 385-402.

Zhang, T., Solmon, M. A., Gao, Z., & Kosma, M. (2012). Promoting school students’ physical activity: A social ecological perspective. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 24, 92-105.

Zhang, T., Solmon, M. A., & Gu, X. (2012). The role of teachers’ support in predicting students’ motivation and achievement outcomes in physical education. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 31, 329-343.

Gu, X., Solmon, M. A., Zhang, T., & Xiang, P. (2011). Group cohesion, achievement motivation, and motivational outcomes among female college students. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 23, 175-188.

Zhang, T., Solmon, M. A., Kosma, M., Carson, R. L., & Gu, X. (2011). Need support, need satisfaction, intrinsic motivation, and physical activity participation among middle school students. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 30, 51-68.

Selected Presentations

Gu. X. (2017, April). Behavioral mechanism of mental health among Hispanic children. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Education Research Association in San Antonio, TX 2017. (Reviewed, National)

Zhang, T., Gu, X., & Jackson, A. (2017, June). Competence beliefs mediate the relation between physical activity and motor competence in elementary school children. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in Denver, CO, 2017. (Reviewed, National)

Zhang, T., Thomas, K., & Gu, X. (2017, March). Ecological analysis of Hispanic children’s physical activity and health-related well-being. Paper presented at the National Convention and Expo of the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE America) in Boston, MA, 2017. (Reviewed, National)

Zhang, T., Thomas, K., Martin, S., Gu, X., & Farren, G. (2016, June). Neighborhood environment, physical activity and health outcomes in underserved Hispanic children. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in Boston, MA, 2016. (Reviewed, National)

Zhang, T., Thomas, K., Gu, X., & Chu, T. L. (2016, April). Hispanic children’s motor skill competence, perceived competence, and health outcomes. Paper presented at the National Convention and Expo of the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE America) in Minneapolis, MN, 2016. (Reviewed, National)   

Gu, X., Thomas, K., & Chen, Y. (2016, April). Children’s motor skill, physical activity, and cardiorespiratory fitness: A development perspective. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Education Research Association in Washingtin, DC, 2016. (Reviewed, National)

Chu, T. L., & Zhang, T. (2015, July). Goal contents as predictors of exercise motivation and outcomes among college freshmen: A self-determination theory perspective. Paper presented at the annual meeting of 14th European Congress of Sport Psychology in Bern, Switzerland, 2015. (Winner of 2015 European Federation of Sport Psychology [FEPSAC] Young Researcher Award) (Reviewed, International)

Gu, X., Weiller, K., & Zhang, T. (2015, March). Examining motor skills, body weight, and physical activity in kindergarteners. Paper presented at the National Convention and Expo of the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE America) in Seattle, WA, 2015. (Reviewed, National)

Zhang, T., & Gu, X. (2015, March). Examining Hispanic children’s body composition and health-related quality of life. Paper presented at the National Convention and Expo of the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE America) in Seattle, WA, 2015. (Reviewed, National)    

Chu, T. L., Zhang, T., & Thomas, K. (2014, October). Association of psychosocial predictors with effort and intention in physical education among elementary school students. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association of Applied Sport Psychology in Las Vegas, Nevada, 2014. (Reviewed, National)

Farren, G. L., Zhang, T., Martin, S. B., & Thomas, K. (2014, October). Examining college students’ psychosocial variables, sedentary behavior, and health-related quality of life. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association of Applied Sport Psychology in Las Vegas, Nevada, 2014. (Reviewed, National)

Farren, G. L., Zhang, T., Martin, S. B., Thomas, K., & Jackson, A. (2014, May). Social cognitive factors related to meeting physical activity guidelines in young adults. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in Orlando, FL, 2014. (Reviewed, National)

Gu, X., Zhang, T., & Xiang, X.  (2014, April). Motivational predictors of Chinese students’ intention and physical education knowledge. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Alliance of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance in St. Louis, MO, 2014. (Reviewed, National)

Zhang, T., & Thomas, K.  (2014, April). Psychosocial variables to predict students’ achievement outcomes in physical activity. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Alliance of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance in St. Louis, MO, 2014. (Reviewed, National)

Zhang, T., & Thomas, K.  (2014, April). Social ecological analysis of children’s physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Alliance of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance in St. Louis, MO, 2014. (Reviewed, National)

Selected Recognitions and Awards

Dr. Tao Zhang, Mentor of The Year Award, SHAPE America. (2017)

Dr. Xiangli Gu, Research Fellow, SHAPE America. (2017)

Dr. Xiangli Gu, Research Fellow – Physical Activity and Public Health, The Center for Disease Control and The University of South Carolina. (2016)

Dr. Tao Zhang, Editorial Board Member, Journal of Teaching in Physical Education (2016)

Dr. Tao Zhang, Editorial Board Member, Journal of Teaching, Research, and Media in Kinesiology (2015) 

Dr. Xiangli Gu, The College of Education Junior Faculty Research Award. University of North Texas. (2015)

Dr. Tao Zhang, Mabel Lee Award - College/University, American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (a very high honor for a young professional with regards to scholarship, teaching, and service). (2013)

Dr. Tao Zhang, Research Fellow – Physical Activity and Public Health, The Center for Disease Control and The University of South Carolina. (2013)

Dr. Tao Zhang, Editorial Board Member, Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal (2013)

Dr. Tao Zhang, Research Fellow, American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (AAHPERD) Research Consortium. (2012)

Dr. Tao Zhang, Global Learning Faculty Scholar. Center for Learning Enhancement, Assessment, and Redesign, University of North Texas. (2012)

Dr. Tao Zhang, Outstanding Service Award, International Chinese Society for Physical Activities and Health. (2012)

Dr. Tao Zhang, Editorial Board Member, Journal of American College Health (2012)