Learning maths whilst being physically active. It definitely sounds like fun, but does it really work? The short answer is yes, it does. A six-week study conducted by academics at Leeds Beckett University has concluded that the Maths on the Move (MOTM) programme both improves maths attainment and increases physical activity levels.
The study, conducted prior to lockdown at the end of 2019, compared outcomes for children taking part in a MOTM programme against control groups who continued with traditional classroom-style maths lessons. All MOTM sessions were delivered by experienced Aspire-trained educators.
Children wore accelerometers during the school day to measure their physical activity.
This enabled researchers to find out how MOTM affected children’s chances of meeting the in-school activity target of 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per day.
Compared to the control group:
Even prior to lockdown, less than half of children were achieving the Chief Medical Officer’s recommendations around physical activity and the figure has worsened throughout the pandemic. The results of this study show that physically active learning can help to fix this problem.
So, we can increase activity, but what about maths performance?
Researchers measured maths performance using tests before and at the end of the programme. Maths attainment test performance significantly improved over time for children on the MOTM programme when compared to the control groups.
The scores for children on the MOTM programme increased from a baseline average score of 11.3/25 (45.2%) to 18.1/25 (72.4%). The scores for the control groups increased from 10.1/25 (40.4%) to 11/25 (44%) over the same period of time.
These findings support our own year-long study across the academic year 2019 – 2020, where
You can read more about that study here: MOTM
Researchers found that MOTM was an overwhelmingly positive experience for schools.
Here’s what some of the children and their teachers had to say:
“I feel excited and happy, I feel this because we get to do fun activities and learn about Maths.” – Aisha, Year 5
“I like sports but … I also like Maths a bit… I like them all together and it’s really fun because you … challenge each other” – Sana, Year 5
“If Maths on the Move is part of your curriculum, it would have an impact on the general enjoyment of Maths” – Shannon, Teacher
“In terms of their attitudes towards learning, they seem more resilient and a lot more confident, and they don’t have any tears if they can’t answer any of the questions. They just persevere with it.” – Zuri, Teacher
Why do we need physically active learning?
Pandemic or no pandemic, all schools face the dual challenges of keeping children healthy through physical activity and ensuring their academic success.
Structured, active learning programmes enable teachers to cut the time children are expected to sit at a desk whilst still covering the academic curriculum.
Children respond positively to an active learning environment. It can boost confidence and improve academic performance.
Physical activity in school can be integrated into daily routines rather than positioned as an optional extra.
Why is Maths on the Move a good choice?
Following the success of MOTM, Aspire, MOTM programme creators, are now developing English on the Move. We expect that this programme will be available in schools from January 2022.
Find out more
We’re running a free webinar on Thursday 17th June at 4:30pm for anyone who is interested in hearing more about the latest study. The webinar, featuring Dr Jade Morris who carried out the research, will look at how and why to introduce physically active learning into your primary school.