The effect of a physically active academic intervention on physical fitness and academic performance of Grade 1 learners

Fisher, Carynne Alison (2020-03)

Thesis (MScSportSc)--Stellenbosch University, 2020.

Thesis

ENGLISH SUMMARY : The importance of Physical Education (PE) has been well established over the years; however, it is no longer viewed as vital aspect of the South African school curriculum. In a South African context, the curriculum does not meet the time of 60 minutes of physical activity (PA) per day recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Teachers no longer find the time to conduct PA lessons because of the emphasis placed on academic subjects by the Department of Education (DoE). With that said, the link between academic achievement and PA has been extensively researched over the years and it was found PA has beneficial effects on academic achievement, such as time on task, attention, memory and improvements in academic subjects such as reading, spelling, mathematics and the sciences. However, limited research has been conducted to determine how including physical fitness (PF) into academic lessons can benefit PF and academic achievement. Recent research has found that combining PA into academic lessons improved academic achievement and PF. Nevertheless, because this field of study is still in its infancy and findings are inconsistent because of various factors. Furthermore, in a South African context little is known as to whether these types of intervention have been beneficial. The main aim of the current study was to determine the effects of an intervention integrating PF and into academic lessons on academic achievement and PF of Grade 1 learners. The study also studied gender differences and the role gender played in academic performance and physical fitness. This thesis followed a research article format with precise aims studied in each article. Research article one studied the effects that a physically active academic intervention had on mathematical performances and physical fitness of Grade 1 learners. The effects of a physically active academic intervention on reading and spelling performance, physical fitness and gender differences of Grade 1 learners were the aims of research article two. Research article one found that after a 16- week physically active academic intervention the experimental group’s strength improved significantly compared to the control group, which was similar to findings of other studies. Other than the control group, the mathematical skills of the experimental group improved significantly, which is also in agreement with findings in literature. These findings suggest a strong association between PF and mathematics achievement, which is suggested by other studies and proves to be an effective way to address the low mathematical achievement and PF in South African schools. Research article two found that after the 16-week physically active academic intervention the experimental group’s reading and strength improved significantly in comparison to the control group. This is in agreement with previous studies. Findings suggested there were no significant differences between gender, PF and academic achievement. This revealed that current type of intervention was effective regardless of gender in young children and therefore, it is ideal to address low PF and academic achievement that can be enjoyable for learners and teachers. This is in agreement with studies that have been conducted in countries outside of Africa. These findings indicate the beneficial effects of combining PF with academic lessons in a South African context. It is cost effective, contributes to the findings of this field of study and solidifies the association between physical fitness and academic achievements in learners. The fact that gender played no significant role indicates that the current intervention can be beneficial to all Grade 1 learners. The findings of the current study can guide future research and education programmes into new ways to teach academics skills, while increasing PF inside and outside the walls of school classrooms.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Die belangrikheid van Liggaamlike Opvoeding (LO) as skoolvak is oor die jare heen goed gevestig, alhoewel dit nie meer langer as ʼn belangrike komponent van die Suid-Afrikaanse skool kurrikulum beskou word nie. In ʼn Suid Afrikaanse konteks, haal die huidige kurrikulum nie die minimum vereiste van 60 minute fisieke aktiwiteit (FA) per dag, wat deur die Wêreld Gesondheidsorganisasie (WGO) aanbeveel word, nie. Tans vind onderwysers nie die tyd om LO lesse aan te bied nie, aangesien die klem op akademiesae prestasies val. Met hierdie in gedagte, is die verband tussen fisieke fiksheid (FF) en akademiese prestasie reeds breedvoerig oor die jare heen nagevors. Daar is tot die gevolgtrekking gekom dat FF voordelige gevolge vir akademiese prestasie inhou. Dit behels voordele vir geheue, tyd-op-taak, aandagspan en verbeterings in akademiese vakke, soos lees, spel, wiskunde en die wetenskappe. Onlangse navorsing het bevind dat deur FF in akademiese lesse te inkorporeer dit akademiese prestasie en fisieke fiksheid verbeter. Die studieveld is egter nog in die babajare en die bevindings is inkonsekwent as gevolg van verskeie faktore. Daar is egter min bekend of hierdie tipes intervensies in ʼn Suid-Afrikaanse konteks voordele sal inhou. Die kern doel van hierdie studie was om die impak van ʼn fisiek-akademiese intervensie op FF en akademiese prestasie van Graad 1 leerders te bepaal. Die huidige studie het ook geslagsverskille bestudeer en die rol wat geslag in FF en akademiese prestasie speel. Die tesis is gebaseer op ʼn artikel formaat met spesifieke doelwitte wat in elkeen ondersoek word. Artikel een het die impak van ʼn fisiek-aktiewe intervensie op FF en wiskundige prestasie van Graad 1 leerders bestudeer. Die effekte van ʼn fisiek-aktiewe akademiese intervensie op FF, akademiese prestasie en geslagsverskille by Graad 1 leerders was die doelwitte van navorsingsartikel twee. Navorsingsartikel een het bevind dat na afloop van ʼn 16-week fisiek-aktiewe akademiese intervensie die eksperimentele groep se krag, in vergelyking van die kontrole groep, betekenisvol verbeter het. Die bevinding is soortgelyk aan ander studies in die literatuur. In vergelyking met die kontrole groep het die eksperimentele groep se wiskundige vaardighede betekenisvol verbeter wat ook ooreenstem met ander studies se bevindings. Hierdie resultate toon die sterk skakel tussen FF en akademiese prestasie wat deur die literatuur ondersteun word en blyk om ʼn effektiewe manier te wees om lae wiskundige prestasie en FF vlakke in ʼn Suid-Afrikaanse konteks aan te spreek. Navorsingsartikel twee het bevind dat na die 16-week fisiek-aktiewe, akademiese intervensie die eksperimentele groep se lees, wiskundige vaardighede en krag betekenisvol verbeter het in vergelyking met die kontrole groep. Hierdie resultate stem ooreen met vorige studies. Geen betekenisvolle verskille tussen geslag, FF en akademiese prestasie is gevind nie. Hierdie bevindinge toon dat die tipe intervensie effektief is ongeag die geslag van die jong kinders en daarom is dit ideaal om lae vlakke van FF en akademiese prestasie aan te spreek wat vir leerders en onderwysers genotvol kan wees. Die bevindinge is in ooreenstemming met studies wat in lande buite Afrika onderneem is. Hierdie bevindinge toon die voordele om FA met akademiese lesse te kombineer in ʼn Suid-Afrikaanse konteks. Dit is koste effektief, dra by tot die bevindinge van hierdie studieveld en konsolideer die verband tussen FF en akademiese prestasie by kinders. Die feit dat geslag geen betekenisvolle rol gespeel het nie, toon dat hierdie tipe intervensie voordelig vir alle Graad 1’s mag wees. Die bevindinge van die huidige studie kan toekomstige navorsing en opvoedkundige programme begelei na nuwe maniere om akademiese vaardighede te onderrig en terselfdertyd FF vlakke binne en buite die mure van die klaskamer te verhoog.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/108423
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