“It’s a Battle . . . You Want to Do It, but How Will You Get It Done?”: Teachers’ and Principals’ Perceptions of Implementing Additional Physical activity in School for Academic Performance

Vera Van den Berg, Rosanne Salimi, Renate De Groot, Jelle Jolles, Mai Chin A Paw, Amika Singh

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    Abstract

    School is an ideal setting to promote and increase physical activity (PA) in children. However, implementation of school-based PA programmes seems difficult, in particular due to schools’ focus on academic performance and a lack of involvement of school staff in program development. The potential cognitive and academic benefits of PA might increase chances of successful implementation. Therefore, the aim of this qualitative study was: (1) to explore the perceptions of teachers and principals with regard to implementation of additional PA aimed at improving cognitive and academic performance, and (2) to identify characteristics of PA programmes that according to them are feasible in daily school practice. Twenty-six face-to-face semi-structured interviews were conducted with primary school teachers (grades 5 and 6) and principals in The Netherlands, and analysed using inductive content analysis. Teachers and principals expressed their willingness to implement additional PA if it benefits learning. Time constraints appeared to be a major barrier, and strongly influenced participants’ perceptions of feasible PA programmes. Teachers and principals emphasised that additional PA needs to be short, executed in the classroom, and provided in “ready-to-use” materials, i.e., that require no or little preparation time (e.g., a movie clip). Future research is needed to strengthen the evidence on the effects of PA for academic purposes, and should examine the forms of PA that are both effective as well as feasible in the school setting
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number1160
    JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
    Volume14
    Issue number10
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2017

    Keywords

    • physical activity
    • academic performance
    • school setting
    • feasibility
    • perceptions teachers
    • perceptions principals
    • intervention development
    • interviews
    • qualitative research

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