Better Movers and Thinkers (BMT): An Exploratory Study of an Innovative Approach to Physical Education

Andrew Dalziell, James Boyle, Nanette Mutrie

Abstract


Recent research has confirmed a positive relationship between levels of physical activity and academic achievement. Some of these studies have been informed by neurological models of Executive Functioning (EF). There is a general consensus within the literature that the three core EF skills are; working memory, inhibitory control and cognitive flexibility. The development of these core EF skills has been linked with learning and academic achievement and is an essential component in the delivery of PE using a new and innovative approach called ‘Better Movers and Thinkers (BMT).’ A mixed methods design was used to investigate the effectiveness and feasibility of a 16-week intervention programme using BMT where 46 children were tested on two separate occasions for coordination and balance control, academic skills, working memory and non-verbal reasoning skills. One school acted as the control condition (21 students, aged 9 – 10 years) and another school acted as the intervention condition (25 students, aged 9 – 10 years). Quantitative data revealed an effect between pre and post-test conditions in the areas of phonological skills (p = .042), segmentation skills (p = .014) and working memory (p = .040) in favour of the intervention condition. Further analysis identified a gender-interaction with male students in the intervention condition making significant gains in phonological skills (p = .005) segmentation skills (p = .014) and spelling (p = .007) compared to boys in the control condition. Analysis of qualitative data from a sample of students from the intervention condition and their class teacher indicated good acceptability of BMT as an alternative approach to PE.

Keywords


physical education; academic achievement; executive function; activity

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https://doi.org/10.5964/ejop.v11i4.950

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