PHIT2LEARN, PHysical activity InTerventions to enhance LEARNing in vocational education and training

Renate De Groot, Bob Ramakers, Hans Savelberg, Mai Chin A Paw, Amika Singh, Jérôme Gijselaers

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterAcademic

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    Purpose: Physical activity (PA) and sedentary behavior (SB) seem to have respectively beneficial and detrimental effects on school performance, but evidence for a causal relationship in vocational education and training (VET) students is lacking. This is surprising, as VET students (±16-20 years) stand to benefit because the prefrontal cortex is developing during this age and is therefore sensitive to PA/SB interventions. Furthermore, students in VET have low activity levels in general, meaning enhanced PA/SB behavior could lead to improvement on cognition and learning. The goal of this project is investigating causal effects of PA/SB interventions on a variety of learning performance measures in VET students. Depending on the kind of intervention and the potential mechanisms underlying acute, short-term, or long-term effects, outcome measures vary from specific effects on cognition, to more general effects on school performance, and vital citizenship/employeeship. Methods: In four closely interlinked studies we investigate the causal effects of ‘sedentary behavior repression interventions’ on cognition, school performance, and 21st century skills in VET students. Study 1 (observational) elucidates habitual, objectively measured PA patterns of VET students and their potential association with cognitive performance, school performance, and proxies of vital citizenship and employeeship. Studies 2 and 3 (fundamental) investigate acute interventions in randomized controlled experiments in school settings, controlling for study discipline (physically active versus sedentary disciplines) to determine possible causal effects of PA/SB interventions on cognitive performance and proxies of vital citizenship and employeeship and their underlying mechanisms. Study 4 (ecological experiment) is a long-term intervention developed for the VET setting based on results from the first three studies and literature. Cognition is tested by the Stroop Test, Symbol Digit Modalities Test, and N-back task. School performance is operationalized as scores on Dutch and mathematics; absenteeism/dropout; and the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire. Vital employeeship/citizenship is measured as collaboration and creativity (GAU, divergent thinking). Where applicable habitual daily activity is measured by accelerometry. Results/Conclusions: Besides scientific output, we deliver tailor-made PA/SB advice and programs for VET students and teachers, taking into account their interests, needs, and possibilities. Furthermore, PHIT2LEARN produces educative materials for students, parents, and teachers.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2017
    Eventsixteenth annual meeting of the International Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity - Victoria Conference Centre, Victoria, Canada
    Duration: 7 Jun 201710 Jun 2017
    Conference number: 16


    Conferencesixteenth annual meeting of the International Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
    Abbreviated titleISBNPA2017
    Internet address


    • Physical activity
    • Executive function
    • Cognitive control
    • Cognition
    • Adolescent
    • Vocational education and training
    • Study performance
    • Sedentary behavior
    • Standing


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