Active Learning Boosts Test Scores, Study Finds

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February 28, 2016

Exercise as part of learning can benefit students’ bodies and minds, a study has found.

The study, done in the Netherlands, found that students in grades 2 and 3 achieved higher scores on mathematics and spelling tests after having physically active lessons. One cited example was of students doing simple multiplication by jumping in place to signify the answer. For example, students were challenged to multiply 2 and 4 and responded by jumping in place eight times.

The study incorporated results from 24 classes as 12 elementary schools in the northern part of the country. Half of the teachers incorporated active exercise into their academic instruction; the other half of the teachers were the control group and did not do active exercise during class time. This was done during a two-year period, after which students took the tests. The higher results in math and spelling did not translate to reading tests, the study found.

Overall, the Dutch students did 20 to 30 minutes of exercise a day, three times a week.

The authors of the study also published a related report, citing evidence that active exercise within classroom instruction time also improved students’ cognitive functions, such as planning and focusing.

The Feb. 24 journal Pediatrics contains the results of the study.

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