The Effect of Physical Activity on Science Competence and Attitude towards Science Content
Type of Degreedissertation
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This study examines the effect of physical activity on science instruction. To combat the implications of physical inactivity, schools need to be willing to consider all possible opportunities for students to engage in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA). Integrating physical activity with traditional classroom content is one instructional method to consider. Researchers have typically focused on integration with English/language arts (ELA) and mathematics. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of physical activity on science competence and attitude towards science. Fifty-three third grade children participated in this investigation; one group received science instruction with a physical activity intervention while the other group received traditional science instruction. Participants in both groups completed a modified version of What I Really Think of Science attitude scale (Pell & Jarvis, 2001) and a physical science test of competence prior to and following the intervention. Children were videotaped during science instruction and their movement coded to measure the proportion of time spent in MVPA. Results revealed that children in the intervention group demonstrated greater MVPA during the instructional period. A moderate to large effect size (partial eta squared = .091) was seen in the intervention group science competence post-test indicating greater understanding of force, motion, work, and simple machines concepts than that of the control group who were less physically active. There was no statistically significant attitude difference between the intervention and control groups post-test, (F(1,51) = .375, p = .543). These results provide evidence that integration can effectively present physical science content and have a positive impact on the number of minutes of health-enhancing physical activity in a school day.