Leeds research: Why pupils succeed more with activities

PIC: Bruce Rollinson
PIC: Bruce Rollinson
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Children who take part in lessons which include physical activity show an increase in academic performance and are more active, according to new research which has been carried out by Leeds Beckett University.

A team led by senior lecturer in physical activity, exercise and health, Andy Daly-Smith, evaluated the impact of active learning maths lessons on physical activity and attainment.

Pupils from Queensway Primary School, in Yeadon, in Leeds, were randomly allocated to groups taking part in either a seated classroom lesson or a ‘Tagitv8’ active learning lesson.

The minutes spent in sedentary and moderate to vigorous physical activity 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).

Mr Daly-Smith said: “The results showed that pupils who took part in the Tagtiv8 lesson achieved over nine minutes more MPVA compared to the traditional classroom lesson and spent 15 minutes less in sedentary time.

“When it came to assessing whether active learning led to better academic outcomes we saw promising results.

“Overall, there were small improvements for pupils who learnt in an active way.

“Further, those pupils who were most active in the Tagtiv8 lessons seemed to have the greatest benefits which suggests activity may play a key role in enhancing learning.

“Additionally, lower ability children, who took part in the Tagtiv8 lesson maintained their academic performance, whereas pupils in the 
traditional classroom lesson decreased.”

Mr Daly-Smith explained that there was strong evidence to support the implementation of Tagtiv8 lessons to increase physical activity during traditional lesson time.

He said: “One 45-minute 
Tagtiv8 lesson can provide children with 10 minutes MPVA, which is one third of the 30-minute in school obesity plan physical activity recommendation.”

Leeds Beckett University is hoping to extend the active learning study.

Andy Daly-Smith said: “We would now like to seek funding to assess the impact of the Tagtiv8 active learning programme over a school year. It would be great to see if small improvements accumulated over time could lead to substantial improvements in the longer term, especially for those who are most in need.”