Date of Award

Fall 12-15-2022

Document Type

Project (696 or 796 registration)

Degree Name

Master of Science in Curriculum & Instruction


Graduate Studies

Committee Chair

Kathy Enger




Over the two-week study, the researcher collected data on how students’ academic growth and social-emotional behaviors were affected between having free-play and academic work during independent time. To study two dependent variables, the researcher asked two research questions: Research Question 1: How does free play and/or recess in schools affect students’ capacity to learn (how do test scores change when students engage in free play versus independent academic work)? Research Question 2: What effect does the amount of free play/recess have on students’ social/emotional skills and behaviors during academic lessons? The participants of the study were 5- and 6-year-olds in the researcher’s kindergarten class. An AB model was used to alter the independent variable week to week. During the A week, the students would have academic work to complete during independent time; during the B week, the students had free-play time. The participants were tested on their letters/sounds at the beginning and end of each week, and the number of times the researcher had to stop teaching to redirect a student or students was tally-marked on a table. The results of the study concluded that without social-emotional skills, students were not ready and able to learn.



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