Effects of a Classroom Walking Program on Physical Activity Accrual and On-Task Behavior
Keywords:activity breaks, children, pedometers
The Walking Classroom (TWC) program provides a structured classroom physical activity (PA) break that incorporates academic content. The purpose of the study was to (a) explore differences in PA accrual on TWC school days versus non-TWC school days, (b) examine on-task behavior before and after TWC, and (c) better understand student and teacher experiences with the program. A mixed methods case study design was used as a method of examining the experiences of one fourth grade classroom and one classroom teacher in the western United States. Twelve weeks of pedometer steps were collected for the entire school day. Student on-task behavior was systematically observed for 10 weeks with 5-s interval recordings approximately 30-min before and after the implementation of TWC. Repeated measures ANCOVA (n = 22) revealed no significant differences between TWC days (M = 7,726 steps) and non-TWC days (M = 7,934 steps). Significant increases were observed in student on-task behavior following TWC breaks (+7.5%, t = -6.782, p < .001, Cohen’s d = .944). Three major themes emerged from the qualitative data: (a) students had fun learning while exercising, (b) technology challenges hindered TWC implementation, and (c) social interaction was desired during TWC breaks. Although findings indicated that TWC days were no different than non-TWC days in terms of PA accrual, teacher logs suggested that an additional recess was provided on non-TWC days, thus washing out any potential PA effect. The students and teacher had positive impressions of TWC overall, but offered suggestions for how TWC could be improved.
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