This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

An Examination of the Effects of Recess on First Graders Use of Written Symbol Representations




Hall, Barbara

Type of Degree



Curriculum and Teaching


Recess is a construct that is slowly disappearing from curriculum in America’s elementary schools. Instead of engaging in free play during recess, children are being expected to perform more structured tasks aimed at specific academic outcomes. This study was undertaken to examine the effects of recess on children’s writing and written representations of thoughts and ideas. The recess treatment was implemented with an entire first grade of a school in which recess was not allowed and had not been allowed for at least 8 years. During the 14 day treatment, children were read stories and asked to respond to a series of questions. Half of the children were granted a recess period before the literacy lessons and the other half were permitted the recess period after the literacy lessons were conducted. Results indicated that the children who were permitted a recess break before participating in the literacy lessons made significant gains over peers who had the recess break after the literacy lessons. In addition, both groups showed improvements in writing productivity over the course of the treatment, suggesting that recess within the course of the school day contributed to academic progress.