The efficacy of school-based classroom learning and physical activity interventions for children’s cognitive performance and wellbeing

McCullogh, Nicola (2019) The efficacy of school-based classroom learning and physical activity interventions for children’s cognitive performance and wellbeing. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

Text (Doctoral thesis)
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This programme of research investigated children’s cognitive performance, academic achievement and wellbeing in association with their participation in primary school-based interventions in which healthy lifestyle/positive choices messages were delivered through classroom learning and physical activity.

A positive correlation was found between the time children spent in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity during intervention sessions and their post-session long-term memory performance (Study 2). Taking a more chronic perspective of intervention participation, in a quasi-experiment testing whether children experienced improvements in cognitive performance, academic achievement and wellbeing over and above those of a control group, results were inconclusive but potentially suggestive of increases in reading and mathematics achievement for the intervention group at the conclusion of the 6-week programme (Study 3). Finally, qualitative data from interviews/focus groups with stakeholders including children, parents and school staff showed that interventions were viewed favourably in relation to children’s engagement and outcomes (Study 4); pupils enjoyed their participation, particularly in the physical activity, and they were thought to benefit in terms of their wellbeing and personal development (e.g. increased healthy lifestyle knowledge, enhanced self-esteem). Parents did however feel that they themselves were not well informed about the interventions and that they could have reinforced programme messages had they known more. In the long term, these findings will assist in informing policy and practice regarding school provision of healthy lifestyle and physical activity opportunities, for instance supporting their inclusion in the timetable despite pressures for schools to prioritise core curriculum subjects.

The thesis contributes to the literature in its focus on cognitive performance and academic achievement, outcomes not often measured for physical activity and positive choices interventions. It also recognises a lack of consistency in the measurement of cognitive performance in the existing research, with Study 1 piloting a cognitive test battery for use in school settings.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: academic achievement, education, primary school, accelerometry
Subjects: C600 Sports Science
C800 Psychology
X900 Others in Education
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Psychology
Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: Ay Okpokam
Date Deposited: 10 Jan 2020 16:40
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 20:07

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