Promoting Physical Activity and Learning in Laboratory and Field-Based Research
From the Laboratory to the Field
Transferring research to practice is essential if we are going to have a meaningful impact on the physical activity and adiposity levels of children and young adults. With many schools reducing the amount of time students participate in physical education, it is becoming increasingly important to provide additional physical activity opportunities in after-school programming. The transition from laboratory to field-based intervention is not without challenges, as schools adapt to the outcome-based requirements mandated by No Child Left Behind. It has become increasingly more difficult to gain access to schools for interventions targeting physical activityrelated, non-academic endeavors.
Club Hofstra: Academic, Athletic, and Mentoring Programs (CHAAMPs) is a grant-funded (United States Tennis Association’s Tennis and Education Foundation) collaborative project between Hofstra University and Uniondale’s Walnut Street Elementary School designed to promote academic, athletic, and social development of third- through fifth-grade students.
The CHAAMPs program expanded on a successful after-school math academy that has been in place at Walnut Street Elementary for the last five years and a “Moving With Math” integrated physical activity and math program piloted in spring 2007. CHAAMPs provides 150 third- to fifth-grade students with opportunities to find success in being physically active, learn about personal and social responsibility, and receive tutoring for preparation for the New York state exams in mathematics and reading. As part of the program, 25 high school and college students serve as mentors in the reading and after-school programs.
The purpose of CHAAMPs is threefold:
1) To provide an innovative academic mentoring program for low performing third-, fourth- and fifth grade students.
2) To provide an integrated youth development and athletic skills program.
3) To develop mentoring skills in high school and college students. The program has five goals:
1) To improve students’ math and reading performances on New York state examinations.
2) To improve students’ self-efficacy toward math and reading.
3) To improve personal and social responsibility.
4) To increase physical activity and motor skills while decreasing obesity levels.
5) To develop mentoring skills in high school and college students.
Using Physical Activity to Develop Math Skills
Our partnership with Walnut Street Elementary School began as an experiment to combine math skills with physical activities. Moving With Math utilized physical activity to reinforce math concepts in third- though fifth grade students. In partnership with the Math Learning Academy, physical activities were developed that focused on math concepts such as developing and interpreting graphs. Students learned how to apply concepts in their daily lives while being physically active. For example, third graders learned to interpret (perform warm-up activities that match the graph) and create (take results from physical activities) bar graphs. The fifth graders wore pedometers (small mechanical devices that record the number of steps taken), determined their stride length, and calculated distance traveled to determine perimeters and areas of shapes created in the gymnasium.
Using Physical Activity to Develop Personal and Social Responsibility
Our programs at Walnut Street Elementary School are grounded in a personal and social responsibility model developed by Hellison (1995). The model has routinely been used in physical activity settings (Hellison, 2000; Shilling, 2001; Watson, Poczwardowski, & Eisenman, 2000) to encourage responsibility in children and young adults. The model identifies five levels of responsibility (irresponsibility, self-control, participation, selfdirection, and caring) that students can exhibit (Hellison & Templin, 1991). Students in our programs are routinely asked to self-evaluate their level of responsibility and are provided with opportunities to exhibit responsibility for themselves and others. The activities we select and the discussions we have with participants focus on respecting themselves and others.
Developing Mentoring Skills in Adolescents and Young Adults
The final component of our program is the development of mentoring skills in young adults. Using a service learning framework, mentors are provided with opportunities to collaboratively work with students in academic and physical activities. Our goal is to develop a commitment to service in young adults while providing authentic learning experiences. A partnership with the Mentoring Partnerships of Long Island has been established to provide additional training to mentors.
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