Physically active learning: the effect of physically active math and language lessons on children’s academic achievement

Marijke Wijnsma

Research output: ThesisThesis fully internal (DIV)

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The main aim of this thesis was to examine the effects of physically active ‘Fit & Vaardig op school’ (F&V) lessons on the academic achievement of socially disadvantaged children (SDC) and children without this disadvantage (non-SDC). SDC have performed worse academically than non-SDC for decades. F&V is a program developed for elementary school children that integrates physical activity into math and language activities. The intervention lessons were taught in the classroom 3 times a week for 20–30 minutes. For example, words had to be spelled by jumping in place for every mentioned letter. To examine what the effects of the F&V program were, first the F&V program implementation was evaluated after one pilot year. It appeared that the F&V lessons could be implemented with success in elementary classrooms. Thereafter, the immediate effects of the F&V lessons on academic engagement were examined. The results showed that participation in the F&V physically active math and language intervention positively contributed to the academic engagement of SDC and non-SDC. Finally, in a two-year randomized controlled trial on 12 elementary schools with 500 children the effects on academic achievement were examined. After two years the F&V intervention contributed significantly more to the math and spelling performance of SDC and non-SDC in comparison with the control group. This equates to 4 months more learning gains. At 7–9 month follow-up, when the children no longer participated in the lessons, the gains in math achievement maintained.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Groningen
  • Bosker, Roel, Supervisor
  • Visscher, Chris, Supervisor
  • Hartman, Esther, Co-supervisor
  • Doolaard, Simone, Co-supervisor
Award date19-Jan-2017
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Print ISBNs978-90-367-9356-8
Electronic ISBNs978-90-367-9355-1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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