The Effects of Movement on Reading Achievement

Date of Award

Spring 5-17-2019

Document Type

Project (696 or 796 registration)

Degree Name

Master of Science in Curriculum & Instruction


Graduate Studies

Committee Chair

Renee Harmon


Movement, Reading, Literacy, Yoga, Aerobics, Classroom



The purpose of this study was to examine how movement in the classroom impacts student literacy achievement and behavior. The research participants consisted of twenty 4th grade students from a Midwestern school district. One of the students was Asian, seven were African-American and twelve were Caucasian. There were 9 male and 11 female participants who ranged in age from 9-10 years old. Four students were on an individualized education plan (IEP), 2 were English learners (EL), and 3 were receiving title support (2 in math, 1 in reading). The study took place in three parts; one week of no stimulus, one week of yoga exercises and one week of aerobic exercises. Participants took a pre and post-test that was used to determine students’ academic success. A tally frequency sheet was used to track students’ behaviors throughout the lessons. Tally marks were made for students who were out of their seats (standing or walking around) without permission as well as students who appeared to not be engaged in the lesson. Data was collected for each of the three parts of the study and was compared and contrasted with the completion of the study.

According to the results from the study, movement in the classroom shows to be beneficial for academic success as well as behaviors. The results from this study also supported a study done by Mead, Scibora, Gardner, and Dunn (2016), which examined the use of stability balls, movement breaks, and sedentary classroom setting. They also proved that movement in the classroom helped students become more successful. Their study showed that the use of stability balls was the most beneficial for students. For this study, the researcher chose to examine small bursts of movement and determine which intensity of movement was the most beneficial.

The weeks in which there were movement breaks provided in the classroom, the participants averaged positive gains in all areas observed; pre-tests, post-tests, talking, fidgeting, and being out of seats. During the week of no movement, participants show gains in all areas except in the areas of talking and fidgeting. However, the weeks of movement had much higher positive gains than those of the non-movement week.

It can be concluded from this study that using any intensity of movement is more advantageous to students than not using any movement. Participants in this study went from an increase in talking and fidgeting during the week of no movement to a significant decrease in talking in both of the movement weeks and a small decrease in fidgeting. There was also an increase in test scores when comparing the non-movement week to the weeks in which there was movement.

When comparing the week of aerobic style movements to the week of yoga breaks, there were noticeable differences between the two. The week of aerobic style movement breaks saw a higher average in weekly test score, but the week of yoga saw an increase in student focus. Both weeks had the same drop in talking points and had a comparable drop in out of seat points. The most noticeable observation between the two weeks was the difference in students fidgeting with materials at their seats. During the week of yoga breaks, study participants had a greater reduction of observed “fidget” behaviors compared to the participants during the aerobic week.

The research that was conducted has a high chance of helping students who are Social Emotional Leaners as well as students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Yoga attributes to more control over mind-body awareness, self-regulation and physical fitness, which subsequently impacts student behavior, mental state, health and performance.

One thing that will be considered as a result of this study, will be to use learning style inventories at the beginning of the year. These inventories will be completed by each student and will help provide some insight for each student’s learning style. Each student has a different style of learning (kinesthetic, visual, auditory, etc.) and it would be beneficial to use movement that best suites the needs of each student in the class. It will also help with seating preference and instructional style for each student. Learning style data can be a very useful tool for both teachers and students.

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