Management of Physical Activity Practiced in Primary School on Academic Achievement
Student’s Name: Shaheen Ali
Professor’s Name: Dr, Souhail Hermassi
The academic performance of young students is a significant indicator of adult physical and mental health. As such, engaging in physical activity, being physically fit and maintaining a healthy body composition may be crucial for better health later in life. Likewise, the management of the institutional-educational dimension focuses on whether the different educational requirements (curriculum, teachers, organization, and teaching methods) are appropriated to achieve the proposed aims. The purpose of this study is to examine the management effects of in-school physical activity (PA) on academic performance in sciences among students in Qatari primary schools. This study will involve more than 200 public primary school students. The students’ grade point average (GPA) for three exams in mathematics and biology taken in the trimester will be used as the academic performance indicators. The physical activity measurements will include anthropometric data (height, mass and body mass index (BMI)), and agility T-half Test (T-test). The study hypothesizes that students who participate regularly in-school physical activities should have better academic and cognitive performance in science-oriented disciplines (mathematics and biology) than students who do not. The information gained from this study will aid the discussion concerning maximizing the management of academic performance in schools and its implications on the educational policies in primary schools in Qatar.
Management of Physical Activity Practiced in Primary School on Academic Achievement
The Qatari government has prioritized science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in its educational reforms to improve the scientific research culture and encourage technological advancement in the country. Qatar, like many other Arab countries, is highly reliant on the oil economy; but lacks sufficient professionals to spur the diversification of its economy. Besides, scientific research in Qatar has stagnated, which has jeopardized the reduction of the overreliance on oil. As such, the government hopes to develop its human capital by investing heavily in science education from the lowest levels of its education system (Nasser, 2017). The ‘National Vision 2030’ has entrenched these efforts by directing the transformation of Qatar into a knowledge-based economy, in tune with the global trend. The substantial financial investments through the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, which was launched about two decades ago, are intended to develop a culture of research and facilitate the creation of new technologies (Said, Summers, Abd-El-Khalick & Wang, 2016). Indeed, the Qatari government continues to be committed to raising the education standards in the country to the level of that in developed countries through educational reforms (Said, 2016). As such, the educational reforms that the Qatari government has undertaken are directed at positioning the country as a scientific research and innovation center globally.
The influence of physical and mental health on academic performance has been widely studied. Some studies have indicated that physical activity improves cognitive functioning in children. For instance, Donnelly et al. (2016) found evidence that demonstrated the influence of physical activity on areas of the brain that supported complex cognitive processes. However, the results of these studies yielded mixed results, with studies on the benefits of physical exercise on academic performance in school settings being recommended, as most research has been undertaken in controlled experiments. Physical activity has been shown to improve memory, which is critical in learning (Phan et al., 2018). Physical activity can improve psychological wellbeing by preventing mental health disorders (Mavilidi et al., 2019). Moreover, physical activity reduces the likelihood of being overweight and obese among children. Such activity, when instilled in children at an early age, is likely to remain habitual in their adult life. As such, adults with a physical activity habit enjoy improved health, making them productive citizens who incur minimal expenses in their healthcare.
The integration of physical activity in teaching has emerged as a new approach for improving learners’ achievements in various subjects. Mullender-Wijnsma et al. (2016) demonstrated that lessons that integrated physical activities improved the performance of elementary school children in mathematics and spelling. The approaches to incorporating physical activities in the classroom have generated much interest among educators and are still being developed (Cothran, Kulinna & Garn, 2010). Already, the education system in Qatar has recognized the importance of physical activities in schools and colleges. However, physical activity is often treated separately from the learning process that takes place in classrooms. The prudent management of education at the institutional level is crucial for the success of an education system. Much research has been dedicated to finding ways to improve education outcomes. As such, educational management science is a well-established discipline. However, this science is continuously evolving as new pedagogical approaches emerge. The management of physical classroom pedagogy is an emerging field that requires more research activity. So far, there is a lack of standard approaches to managing physical lessons in a classroom setting that can inform the integration of physical activity in the learning of science. Qatar students would benefit from the modalities of integrating physical activity in their lessons because they would improve their learning and academic performance. However, such integration should be based on evidence drawn locally in Qatar to supplement the empirical findings from studies outside the country.
The majority of empirical studies investigating the physical education practices in school settings and the use of physical activity in academic performance have been conducted mostly in European and North American countries. Many of these studies have evidenced the beneficial link between physical fitness, cognitive abilities and academic achievement. However, the findings from these studies are inapplicable in Qatar because of its unique circumstances and culture (Al-Thani & Semmar, 2016). Additionally, studies that have focused on the effects of physical activity on the performance of students in primary schools in Qatar are nonexistent. Many Qatari studies have instead ventured into educational reforms that promote physical education and science education. Many highly-developed countries have built an enviable mass of technical and scientific professionals that have spurred their economic development. These countries have aligned their education systems with the development of STEM capabilities, making them leaders in scientific research and technological innovations. Therefore, a study connecting the performance of Qatari primary school students in sciences and the physical activities they partake at school is necessary and timely. This study would go a long way in facilitating the realization of National Vision 2030 by informing the education practitioners and policymakers on ways of improving the country’s journey towards a scientific and technical human capital and a knowledge-based economy.
The research questions that this study will seek to answer are:
- Do primary school students who participate in regular in-school physical activity perform better in mathematics than those who do not?
- Do primary school students who participate in regular in-school physical activity perform better in biology than those who do not?
- What is the relationship between regular in-school physical activity and performance in sciences among primary school students?
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