Owen, K. B, Parker, P. D, Van Zanden, B., MacMillan, F., Astell-Burt, T. & Lonsdale, CS. (2016). Physical activity and school engagement in youth: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Educational Psychologist, Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1080/00461520.2016.1151793
Physical activity is associated with numerous health benefits in youth; however, these benefits could extend further than health, into education. Our aim was to systematically review and combine in meta-analyses evidence concerning the association between physical activity and the dimensions of school engagement, including behavior (e.g., time-on-task), emotions (e.g., lesson enjoyment), and cognition (e.g., self-regulated learning). We conducted meta-analyses using structural equation modeling on results from 38 studies. Overall, physical activity had a small, positive association with school engagement (d = .28, I2 = .86), 95% confidence interval [.12, .46]. This association was moderated by study design, with significant associations shown in randomized controlled trials but not in studies employing other designs. Risk of bias was also a significant effect moderator, as studies with a low risk of bias showed significant associations but not high risk of bias studies. Altogether, these results suggest that physical activity could improve school engagement.
Institute for Positive Psychology and Education
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