If you’re reading this, you probably value your students’ perspectives and you are interested in offering physical activity opportunities for them. While many studies have been conducted to show support for classroom physical activity, most of them report on the amount of physical activity the breaks provide for students and/or how the physical activity relates to some aspect of academic performance, such as behavior, concentration or test scores. On a positive note, most of the research is, in fact, positive when looking at these variables! However, rarely have the students been asked if they actually enjoy the opportunities for movement.
A few years ago, some colleagues and I interviewed 4th and 5th-grade students after they were able to engage in an active learning program. The program was called the Walking Classroom, in which students walk, listen and learn to the pre-recorded content. Each student has a headset that they use while walking indoors or outdoors for the lesson. Results from the study were positive for academic outcomes, such as learning and retention of content. But what was also very interesting was the information we learned when we asked the students how they felt after this type of learning. They were overwhelmingly positive about their feelings while walking and learning, and their responses were fairly negative on days on which they did not get to move and learn. Here are some word clouds to describe their feelings:
Feelings while walking, listening, and learning
Feelings on days without a walk or physical education
The good news is students really love to move and learn! The challenge for us is to continue providing the opportunity to be active because their perceptions matter. Positive moods make for a positive teaching environment.
Erwin, H., Weight, E., & Harry, M. (2020). “Happy, healthy, and smart”: Student responses to the walking classroom education program aimed to enhance physical activity. Journal of School Health, DOI: 10.1111/josh.12990.
Heather is a Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion at the University of Kentucky. She is a former physical education teacher, and co-author of Dynamic Physical Education for Secondary School Children, 8ed. Heather was also the recipient of the NASPE Curriculum and Instruction Young Scholar Award and a AAHPERD Research Consortium Fellow.
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