A multidisciplinary team of researchers is to study the precise link between exercise and school performance. The research will be headed by human movement scientists Esther Hartman and Chris Visscher from the UMCG/University of Groningen. They will receive a grant worth 425,000 Euro from the Netherlands Initiative for Education Research (Nationaal Regieorgaan Onderwijsonderzoek or NRO). The research and the information it generates will translate into recommendations for policy and guidelines for teaching practice.
Previous research has already shown that sport and exercise at school have a positive effect on children, including on their brain structure and their executive performance, such as working memory and planning skills. But how exactly do sport and exercise affect children’s school performance? And if a causal link is found, what are the determining factors? The main focus of the research is the question of which type of exercise is most effective and how often, for how long and how intensively children need to exercise in order to improve their achievements at school.
Researchers with expertise in various fields will spend three years studying these wide-ranging questions. Human movement scientists from the UMCG will head the research. Educational specialists from the University of Groningen and educationalists, neuropsychologists and development psychologists from VU University Amsterdam and Radboud University Nijmegen and the National Institute for Educational Measurement (CITO) will also contribute to the research.
The research will include a review of the literature and an analysis of existing databases, and the researchers will test various interventions at 24 primary schools. Specialist physical education teachers will play an important role in this.
The project will last three years and the first results are expected in November 2015.
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