Conducting educational research on learning activities that involve physical movement is challenging as it is against the dominating school culture that discourages physical movements. Thus, it is especially exciting to learn about new research on this topic at 2017 AERA.
Dr. Marily Oppezzo and IIsa Dohmen’s study "Sit Still! How Opportunity to Move Impact Students’ Thinking” is one of these studies. They compared learning and creative performances of two groups of students: one group sat on traditional still chair and the other on hokki chairs that facilitated wiggling. Findings revealed that natural movement can foster more creative ideas and does not impact performance and memory in math learning (read more here). From the Q&A conversation, it becomes that furniture pieces are not sufficient; a culture that encourages natural movement during learning activities is crucial too. This study reminds me of a relevant research on treadmill and creativity reported in New Learning Times a while ago. It also supports our efforts in furniture choices at the Smith Learning Theater.
Dr. Cynthia Ching's paper “Data Interpretation, Critique, and Personal Meaning: Constructionist Perspectives on Next Generation Science Standards and Activity Monitor Gaming” is another interesting project on this topic. In her research, middle school participants wore Fitbit for 4 months and played a game about their physical activities. In their reflection on these collected Fitbit data during the focus group interviews, students demonstrated understandings about several types of NGSS performance standards, including critiquing accuracy, critiquing tools, or critiquing appropriateness of the data collection model. Dr. Ching contends that making data meaningful and relevant to students are important in such project (read more here).
One highlight from the Q&A conversation is the problematic idea that healthy life is a choice, as the options available are political. For instance, some students who live in urban neighborhoods want to walk more but cannot because their parents would raise safety concerns, which is in contrast to students living in suburban neighborhoods who have choices to walk safely and thus freely in their neighborhoods.
These studies are relevant to our continuing exploration of Quuppa-related research at LT. Alvaro, Xiang, and the research team are working on analysis and project ideas. Stay tuned!