The effects of integrated classroom based physical activity on on-task behavior for Aboriginal children in grades four and five


There is a wide academic achievement gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal youth. The rate of high school non-completion for Aboriginal Peoples is approximately 61% (Statistics Canada, 2006). The need to close this gap is great given the growth of the Aboriginal population in Canada. Research over the past decade has shown that physical activity improves the learning ability and academic performance of children (Tomporowski et al., 2011; CDC, 2010). Purpose: This study examined the effects of classroom based physical activity lessons that incorporated curricular content on the on-task behavior of grade four and five participants at an on-reserve elementary school. Methods: Time on task was assessed for thirteen participants (N=13) through direct observation before and after the intervention and before and after an inactive classroom lesson. A two way [time (beginning of lesson vs end of lesson) x period (active lesson vs non active lesson)] repeated measures ANOVA was conducted. Results: The intervention was effective in improving the on task behavior of the participants. On task behavior scores decreased from beginning of lesson to end of lesson lesson in the non active lesson period, while on task behavior scores increased from beginning of lesson to end of lesson lesson in the active lesson period. The two way repeated measures ANOVA revealed a significant time x period interaction [F(1, 12) = 36.067, p< .001]. Conclusion: This research illustrates that incorporating physically active lessons that reinforce curricular content into the classroom may be an effective way to improve the on-task behaviors of Aboriginal children.