Background Children participation in physical activity is still a major concern of health education research. Because of the amount of sedentary time that children spend in classroom every day, the school environment could be a good opportunity to provide adequate levels of physical activity (Pate et al., 2006). Active breaks may occur during physical education, recess, classroom time, or with after-school programs and it has been seen that they positively influenced on-task behavior in children (Mahar, 2011). The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of active breaks on attention during school day in a group of primary school pupils. Materials and method Forty-six children in three classrooms of 4th and 5th grade of a school located in Veneto participated in the study. A baseline evaluation of selective attention allows us to select eligible cases for the analysis. Evaluations of attention was conducted independently for each classroom, in three days with different situations. The different conditions randomly proposed to the 3 classrooms consisted of a usual school day, a day with 3 inactive breaks (reading comics) and a day with 3 active breaks. (i.e. doing “energizers”, a set of 5 to 8-minute long “movement oriented exercises” developed by Mahar and Colleagues in 2004 to promote physical activity and learning).Children’s attention was measured with the Italian version of the Continuous Performance Test (CP, Marzocchi et al., 2010) after the first, the fifth and the eighth school hour. Moreover, children wore an accelerometer (ActiGraph, GT3X+) in order to measure physical activity quantity and intensity. Results After the exclusion of 3 children from the analysis, because of their under cutoff baseline attention values, final sample consisted of 21 boys and 22 girls, mean age was 9.5 years (SD = 0.6). RM-ANOVA shown that children’s attention was significantly higher by classroom and by condition on the last administration of the school day and on the third condition proposed (p < .05) independently from its type. Concerning physical activity quantity, children of all classrooms reported significantly higher steps count per school day during active breaks condition (F(4, 38) = 18.71; p < .01), with a mean increment of 55%. Also minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity during active-break days reported significantly higher values compared with inactive breaks and normal conditions (F(4, 38) = 12.33; p < .01). Discussion According to our experience, some methodological concerns should be considered when investigating the effect of active breaks on attention: attention improvement on the last administration of the CP test could be consequent to a learning effect; the CP test proposes a problem regarding the compromise speed/accuracy. So, it is suggested to consider alternative measurement approaches, such as collecting data with computer based tests, or adopting direct observation of behaviors.

Active breaks and attention in primary school pupils: methodological concerns

E. Gobbi
2012-01-01

Abstract

Background Children participation in physical activity is still a major concern of health education research. Because of the amount of sedentary time that children spend in classroom every day, the school environment could be a good opportunity to provide adequate levels of physical activity (Pate et al., 2006). Active breaks may occur during physical education, recess, classroom time, or with after-school programs and it has been seen that they positively influenced on-task behavior in children (Mahar, 2011). The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of active breaks on attention during school day in a group of primary school pupils. Materials and method Forty-six children in three classrooms of 4th and 5th grade of a school located in Veneto participated in the study. A baseline evaluation of selective attention allows us to select eligible cases for the analysis. Evaluations of attention was conducted independently for each classroom, in three days with different situations. The different conditions randomly proposed to the 3 classrooms consisted of a usual school day, a day with 3 inactive breaks (reading comics) and a day with 3 active breaks. (i.e. doing “energizers”, a set of 5 to 8-minute long “movement oriented exercises” developed by Mahar and Colleagues in 2004 to promote physical activity and learning).Children’s attention was measured with the Italian version of the Continuous Performance Test (CP, Marzocchi et al., 2010) after the first, the fifth and the eighth school hour. Moreover, children wore an accelerometer (ActiGraph, GT3X+) in order to measure physical activity quantity and intensity. Results After the exclusion of 3 children from the analysis, because of their under cutoff baseline attention values, final sample consisted of 21 boys and 22 girls, mean age was 9.5 years (SD = 0.6). RM-ANOVA shown that children’s attention was significantly higher by classroom and by condition on the last administration of the school day and on the third condition proposed (p < .05) independently from its type. Concerning physical activity quantity, children of all classrooms reported significantly higher steps count per school day during active breaks condition (F(4, 38) = 18.71; p < .01), with a mean increment of 55%. Also minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity during active-break days reported significantly higher values compared with inactive breaks and normal conditions (F(4, 38) = 12.33; p < .01). Discussion According to our experience, some methodological concerns should be considered when investigating the effect of active breaks on attention: attention improvement on the last administration of the CP test could be consequent to a learning effect; the CP test proposes a problem regarding the compromise speed/accuracy. So, it is suggested to consider alternative measurement approaches, such as collecting data with computer based tests, or adopting direct observation of behaviors.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11576/2679306
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