According to research carried out by Leeds Beckett University, children who take part in lessons, which include physical activity, show an increase in health-enhancing physical activity and academic performance. Therefore, being more active in school lessons may improve performance in tests and exams. Leeds Beckett University, whose Vice Chancellor is Professor Peter Slee, has more than 28,000 students on programs in Leeds and abroad and more than 3,100 staff and was one of the first universities to hold the Customer Service Excellence standard across the whole institution. Based on data collected by Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education 2014/15, 97% of Leeds Beckett University’s UK students were in work or further study six months after graduating. Adding further to its academic achievements, the institution was ranked second in the world for personal tutors, fourth in the world for technology and virtual learning facilities, and received a 93% satisfaction rate from home and international students in the Autumn 2016 independent Student Barometer survey.
A team led by Senior Lecturer Andy Daly-Smith evaluated the impact of Tagtiv8 mathematics lessons on physical activity and mathematics performance. Tagtiv8’s approach and ideas help develop unique and innovative ways to combine English, Mathematics and PE while providing an enjoyable alternative to classroom-based learning. Children from a primary school in Leeds were randomly allocated to groups, taking part in either a seated classroom lesson or a Tagitv8 active learning lesson. The Tagtvi8 active learning programme is an educational resource, which supports teachers to deliver key areas of the national curriculum through active and engaging delivery. The minutes in each lesson spent in sedentary activity and moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) were assessed using accelerometers. Academic achievement was assessed before and after the lessons using the Maths Addition, Subtraction, Speed and Accuracy Test (MASSAT) and the Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT). Commenting on the results of the tests, Andy Daly-Smith said: “The results showed pupils who took part in the Tagtiv8 lesson achieved over nine minutes more MPVA compared to the traditional classroom lesson and spent a reduction of 15 minutes in sedentary time. When it came to assessing whether active learning led to better academic outcomes we saw promising results”. Overall, there were notable improvements for pupils who learnt in an active way, which may point to an interconnection between being active and the ability of absorbing, storing and processing information. Additionally, the children who took part in the Tagtiv8 lesson seemed to maintain their academic performance whereas pupils in the traditional classroom lesson showed an opposite evolution.
This study appears to support the implementation of Tagtiv8 lessons with the scope of increasing physical activity during traditional classroom lesson time. One 45-minute Tagtiv8 lesson may provide children with 10 minutes MPVA which is one third of the 30-minute in school Obesity Plan physical activity recommendation. Following the recent Childhood: a plan for obesity report, schools are now expected to provide 30 minutes of physical activity per day within school time. Physical activity levels of children and young people around the country seem in need to be accelerated in order to meet the current recommendations.
The research group at Leeds Beckett University aims to seek funding to assess the impact of the Tagtiv8 active learning programme over a school year. The team intends to see how progressive improvements accumulated over time may lead to substantial improvements in the longer term, especially for those who are most in need of an academic boost.
Further details on this innovative programme may be accessed by contacting Sarah Cardwell in the Communications team at Leeds Beckett University on 0113 812 3385 or via email at S.Cardwell@leedsbeckett.ac.uk
How may physical activity enhance cognitive skills?