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Dissertation: 5 September 2015: From acid monsters to maagers - Energy for classwork from recess activities? (Ottelin)


5.9.2015 12:00 — 15:00

Location: Mattilanniemi, Agora, Auditorio 3
M.Sc. Auli Ottelin defends her doctoral dissertation in Sport Pedagogy "From acid monsters to maagers - Energy for classwork from recess activities?". Opponent Adjunct Professor Jyrki Reunamo University of Helsinki) and custos Professor Pauli Rintala (University of Jyväskylä). The doctoral dissertation is held in Finnish.

Auli OttelinM.Sc. Auli Ottelin defends her doctoral dissertation in Sport Pedagogy"From acid monsters to maagers - Energy for classwork from recess activities?". Opponent Adjunct Professor Jyrki Reunamo University of Helsinki) and custos Professor Pauli Rintala (University of Jyväskylä). The doctoral dissertation is held in Finnish.

This case study examined the quality of physical activity of pupils in primary education (1st and 2nd grades) during school recess, their motor restlessness and physical activity in school class, and whether their physical activity during recess associated their classwork. A total of 15 pupils participated in the follow-up study that lasted for a year. During the school year, physical activity was measured using an accelerometer, recess activities were examined using a photo collage and work in the class room was observed by watching the pupils’ recorded classes. These were all monitored six times for one week, regularly throughout the entire school year. In terms of workload, the pupils spent 94% of their recess time on very light or light recess activities such as walking. The play types of boys and girls clearly differed from each other. The girls practiced more balancing and climbing activities, and spent time talking, while boys practiced other activities, mainly imaginative play they invented themselves and different ball games. The average load of recesses was clearly greater than the pupils’ average daily overall activity. The pupils’ daily amount of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) was 49 minutes on average, less than the amount of physical activity recommended for school children. However, there were individual differences in activity between the pupils. The pupils studied approximately 69% of the 45-minute class on average, based on their teacher’s instructions. Activities that were classified as a disturbance to learning took approximately a fifth of the class (17%). On average, girls worked according to the teacher’s instructions more often than boys. There were also differences between different individuals in how they focused on class assignments. The pupil that focused most actively on school work used an average of 9 minutes more time on working according to the teacher’s instructions than the pupil with most motor restlessness. The majority of the motor restlessness noticed in class was mainly activity that disturbed the pupils themselves, movements on their own desk, and not activity that disturbed the entire classroom’s peace. In terms of workload, the classes were very light or light. Having breakfast, the amount of sleep, or the child’s temperament did not explain the pupils’ differences in activity, because during the study period all pupils had breakfast, their average sleeping time was in line with recommendations (9.76 hours a day) and the temperament qualities that affect school accomplishments or success, such as activity, attention span and persistence, were close to the average on the assessment scale. However, individual differences in the pupils’ temperament profiles could be discerned. An increase in the physical workload of recesses did not reduce the physical workload of classes. The average motor restlessness during class was slightly greater in the recess group inactive than in the groups rather active or active. Still, there was no statistically significant difference between different recess activity groups’ motor restlessness during class. The study encourages to use recesses more variably and efficiently in order to increase children’s play and physical activity and to promote their learning and wellbeing.  

Keywords: elementary school recess, physical activity, learning, children

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Auli Ottelin