Research and Anecdotes - McKay School of Education

Arts, Movement, and Learning Brochure Research References
References marked with an asterisk (*) provide a good synthesis of research literature on
their given topics.
Physical Activity: Overall and Single Bouts
*Barenberg, J., Berse, T., & Dutke, S. (2011). Executive functions in learning processes: Do
they benefit from physical activity? Educational Research Review, 6(3), 208-222. doi:
"The review found considerable evidence for beneficial effects of physical activity on
executive functions, with performance benefitting more consistently in inhibition
tasks than in dual task coordination, shifting tasks, or combined tasks" (p.208)
Bartholomew, J. B., & Jowers, E. M. (2011). Physically active academic lessons in elementary
children. Preventive Medicine, 52, Supplement(0), S51-S54. doi:
Physically active academic lessons in the Texas I-CAN! program have been shown to
increase the overall physical activity of students, increase students’ time on task,
and increase retention of content.
Best, J. R. (2010). Effects of physical activity on children’s executive function: Contributions
of experimental research on aerobic exercise. Developmental Review, 30(4), 331351. doi:
"Whereas physical activity may not naturally facilitate rote memorization or
associative learning, it likely does facilitate the emergence and development of
adaptive, goal-directed problem-solving skills, which is one of the hallmarks of
human development. Aerobic exercise, then, may be an invaluable part of children’s
development, and these findings should persuade parents and educators to
reconsider the importance of aerobic exercise. Therefore, the importance of regular
physical activity to the developing body and mind cannot be overstated" (p. 348)
Donnelly, J. E., Greene, J. L., Gibson, C. A., Smith, B. K., Washburn, R. A., Sullivan, D. K.,
Williams, S. L. (2009). Physical Activity Across the Curriculum (PAAC): A
randomized controlled trial to promote physical activity and diminish overweight
and obesity in elementary school children. Preventive Medicine, 49(4), 336-341. doi:
“Academic achievement was significantly improved with exposure to PAAC
[Physically Activity Across the Curriculum]. Foremost, this finding affirms that
PAAC did not interfere with learning….The major conclusion was that physical
education did not have adverse effects on academic achievement and limiting
physical education to avoid adverse effects on learning does not appear to be
legitimate….Suggested mechanisms for the association between PA [physical
activity] and academic performance incdluded concentration, memory, cognitive
processing, and classroom behavior....Our results are from a longitudinal,
randomized, controlled trial and compared PA (not fitness) to academic
achievement" (pp.339-340).
" Body Mass Index was the primary outcome, daily Physical activity and academic
achievement were secondary outcomes.
Results. The three-year change in Body Mass Index for Physical Activity Across the
Curriculum was 2.0 ± 1.9 and control 1.9±1.9, respectively (NS). However, change in
Body Mass Index from baseline to 3 years was significantly influenced by exposure
to Physical Activity Across the Curriculum. Schools with ≥ 75 min of Physical
Activity Across the Curriculum/wk showed significantly less increase in Body Mass
Index at 3 years compared to schools that had b75 min of Physical Activity Across
the Curriculum (1.8±1.8 vs. 2.4±2.0, p = 0.02). Physical Activity Across the
Curriculum schools had significantly greater changes in daily Physical activity and
academic achievement scores" (p. 336).
Donnelly, J. E., & Lambourne, K. (2011). Classroom-based physical activity, cognition, and
academic achievement. Preventive Medicine, 52, Supplement(0), S36-S42. doi:
"Overall, the data support the link between physical activity, cognitive function, and
academic achievement.... Physically active academic lessons of moderate intensity
improved overall performance on a standardized test of academic achievement by
6% compared to a decrease of 1% for controls (p<0.02)" (p.S36).
"It is important to recognize that PAAC [the intervention, Physical Activity Across
the Curriculum] was a 3-year study that provided longitudinal data from a wellrespected measure of academic achievement (WIAT II) obtained by a third party
blinded to condition" (p. 540).
Gapin, J. I., Labban, J. D., & Etnier, J. L. (2011). The effects of physical activity on attention
deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms: The evidence. Preventive Medicine, 52,
Supplement(0), S70-S74. doi:
The cognitive benefits of physical activity seem to target areas and functions of
brain that have been shown to be commonly impaired in persons with attention
deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Research on this topic is scant but promising.
Halperin, J. M., & Healey, D. M. (2011). The influences of environmental enrichment,
cognitive enhancement, and physical exercise on brain development: Can we alter
the developmental trajectory of ADHD? Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews,
35(3), 621-634. doi:
“Thus the creative use of directed play, which incorporates cognitive challenges and
physical exercise, may have the potential to serve as a vehicle for treatment of
children with ADHD [attention deficity hyperactivity disorder]. In particular, the
intrinsic rewarding qualities of play (i.e., it’s fun) makes it an ideal delivery system
for treatment of children with ADHD.…. It would facilitate development and growth
of a wide array of cortical regions and their associated functions, which in turn,
would allow for the implementation of compensatory mechanisms that have the
potential to improve functioning in individuals with the disorder” (p. 629, italics in
Hartjen, L. F. (2012). Art and Transformation: Embodied Action in a First-Grade Art Class.
Art Education, 65(6), 12-17.
“Students who were generally disruptive during teacher-centered art instruction
often focused easily during lessons infused with movement activities. It became
imperative to include kinesthetic learners in art instruction in order to level the
playing field” (p. 12).
Hillman, C. H., Kamijo, K., & Scudder, M. (2011). A review of chronic and acute physical
activity participation on neuroelectric measures of brain health and cognition
during childhood. Preventive Medicine, 52, Supplement(0), S21-S28. doi:
“The pattern of neuroelectric activation exhibited by higher-fit children suggests
greater allocation of attentional resources during stimulus engagement ...and
decreased activation of resources toward the monitoring of their actions....
Alternatively, lower-fit children appear to allocate fewer resources toward stimuli
in their environment and instead rely more heavily upon an action monitoring
strategy. However, under more demanding task conditions, this latter strategy
appears to fail as lower-fit participants perform more poorly under conditions of
greater conflict; whereas higher-fit participants appear to have the capability to
flexibly and effectively regulate cognitive control, resulting in an increase in both the
allocation of attentional resources toward external...and internal...aspects of the
stimulus-response relationship. At an overt level, such a strategy results in the
maintenance of a high level of task performance under a variety of conditions that
place variable demands upon cognitive control” (p. 524).
Hillman, C. H., Pontifex, M. B., Raine, L. B., Castelli, D. M., Hall, E. E., & Kramer, A. F. (2009).
The effect of acute treadmill walking on cognitive control and academic
achievement in preadolescent children. Neuroscience, 159(3), 1044-1054. doi:
“Single, acute bouts of moderately-intense aerobic exercise (i.e. walking) may
improve the cognitive control of attention in preadolescent children, and further
support the use of moderate acute exercise as a contributing factor for increasing
attention and academic performance" (p. 1044).
Hötting, K., & Röder, B. (2013). Beneficial effects of physical exercise on neuroplasticity and
cognition. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 37(9, Part B), 2243-2257. doi:
“Evidence…suggests that physical activity facilitates neuroplasticity of certain brain
structures and as a result cognitive functions. Animal studies have identified an
enhancement of neurogenesis, synaptogenesis, angiogenesis and the neurotrophins
as neural mechanisms mediating beneficial cognitive effects of physical exercise….
Physical exercise may trigger processes facilitating neuroplasticity and, thereby,
enhances an individual’s capacity to respond to new demands with behavioral
adaptations. Indeed, some recent studies have suggested that combining physical
and cognitive training might result in a mutual enhancement of both interventions.
Moreover, new data suggest that to maintain the neuro-cognitive benefits induced
by physical exercise, an increase in the cardiovascular fitness level must be
maintained” (p. 2243).
Howie, E. K., & Pate, R. R. (2012). Physical activity and academic achievement in children: A
historical perspective. Journal of Sport and Health Science, 1(3), 160-169. doi:
"The overwhelming majority of published articles report positive associations
between PA [physical activity] and cognition, particularly executive functions, and
academic achievement. Little to no evidence that suggests a negative relationship
between PA and academics has been published, but results may be prone to
reporting bias" (p. 166).
Kibbe, D. L., Hackett, J., Hurley, M., McFarland, A., Schubert, K. G., Schultz, A., & Harris, S.
(2011). Ten Years of TAKE 10!®: Integrating physical activity with academic
concepts in elementary school classrooms. Preventive Medicine, 52, Supplement(0),
S43-S50. doi:
"Teachers are willing and able to implement classroom-based PA [physical activity]
integrated with grade-specific lessons (4.2 days/wk). Children participating in the
TAKE 10! program experience higher PA levels (13%>), reduced time-off-task
(20.5%), and improved reading, math, spelling and composite scores (p<0.01).
Furthermore, students achieved moderate energy expenditure levels (6.16 to 6.42
METs) and studies suggest that BMI may be positively impacted (decreases in BMI z
score over 2 years [P<0.01])" (p. 543).
*Kohl III, H. W., & Cook, H. D. (2013). Educating the student body: Taking physical activity
and physical education to school: National Academies Press.
Many studies show “small-to-moderate positive or null associations between
[overall] physical fitness, particularly aerobic fitness, and academic performance"
(p. 167).
“The regular engagement in physical activity achieved during physical education
programming can also be related to academic performance, especially when the
class is taught by a physical education teacher" (p. 168).
“Although a consensus on the relationship of physical activity to academic
achievement has not been reached, the vast majority of available evidence suggests
the relationship is either positive or neutral” (p. 170)
“Studies have found that single bouts of physical activity result in improved
attention,...better working memory,...and increased academic learning time and
reduced off-task behaviors.... Yet single bouts of physical activity have differential
effects, as very vigorous exercise has been associated with cognitive fatigue and
even cognitive decline in adults” (p. 170-171).
“Both habitual and single bouts of physical activity contribute to enhanced academic
performance. Findings indicate a robust relationship of acute exercise to increased
attention, with evidence emerging for a relationship between participation in
physical activity and disciplinary behaviors, time on task, and academic
performance. Specifically, higher-fit children allocate greater resources to a given
task and demonstrate less reliance on environmental cues or teacher prompting" (p.
Kwak, L., Kremers, S. P. J., Bergman, P., Ruiz, J. R., Rizzo, N. S., & Sjöström, M. (2009).
Associations between Physical Activity, Fitness, and Academic Achievement. The
Journal of Pediatrics, 155(6), 914-918.e911. doi:
In a study of adolecents in Sweden, "after controlling for confounding factors,
academic achievement was associated with vigorous physical activity in girls....In
boys it was only associated with fitness" (p. 914).
Lambourne, K., Hansen, D. M., Szabo, A. N., Lee, J., Herrmann, S. D., & Donnelly, J. E. (2013).
Indirect and direct relations between aerobic fitness, physical activity, and academic
achievement in elementary school students. Mental Health and Physical Activity,
6(3), 165-171. doi:
“Findings showed a direct effect of PA [physical activity] on aerobic fitness and an
indirect (mediation) of PA via fitness on math achievement after controlling for
[several demographic variables]. Neither PA nor aerobic fitness were correlated
with WIAT-III reading or spelling scores" (p. 165)
Mahar, M. T. (2011). Impact of short bouts of physical activity on attention-to-task in
elementary school children. Preventive Medicine, 52, Supplement(0), S60-S64. doi:
"Available research has demonstrated moderate to good evidence that physical
activity during the school day improves attention-to-task in elementary school
students. Because of the positive effects of physical activity on attention-to-task, it
is recommended that elementary school teachers consider implementing physical
activity sessions throughout the school day in the form of recess and classroombased physical activities" (p. S60).
*Medina, J. (2014). Brain Rules : 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and
School (Updated and expanded ed.). Seattle, WA, USA.
Chapter 2, "Exercise," is a highly readable summary of some research about physical
*Rasberry, C. N., Lee, S. M., Robin, L., Laris, B. A., Russell, L. A., Coyle, K. K., & Nihiser, A. J.
(2011). The association between school-based physical activity, including physical
education, and academic performance: A systematic review of the literature.
Preventive Medicine, 52, Supplement(0), S10-S20. doi:
50 unique studies were reviewed. Of 251 associations between physical activity and
academic performance reported, 50.5% were positive and 48% showed no
demonstrated relationship. Only 1.5% of associations were negative.
Reed, J. A., Einstein, G., Hahn, E., Hooker, S. P., Gross, V. P., & Kravitz, J. (2010). Examining the
impact of integrating physical activity on fluid intelligence and academic
performance in an elementary school setting: a preliminary investigation. Journal of
physical activity & health, 7(3), 343.
“Low levels of physical activity was identified as a risk factor for poor performance
on fluid intelligence tasks….Executive function tends to correlate with fluid
intelligence….Exercise, according to these researchers, may be a simple but
important method to enhance mental function" (p. 349).
"Sacrificing physical education for classroom time does not improve academic
performance. Youth who are more physically active tend to perform better
academically. Kids who are physically active and fit are likely to have stronger
academic performance. Activity breaks can improve cognitive performance and
classroom behavior. Short activity breaks during the school day can improve
students’ concentration skills and classroom behavior” (p. 349).
Sibley, B. A., & Etnier, J. L. (2003). The relationship between physical activity and cognition
in children: a meta-analysis. Pediatric Exercise Science, 15(3), 243-256.
Four large-scale studies were reviewed. "In each of these studies, time spent by
students in PE was significantly increased at the expense of time spent in academic
classes. In three of the studies, significant improvements in academic performance
were found with increased PE, and in the fourth..., there were no significant
differences in performance. These results are important becasue the extra time
spent in PE has associated physical benefits and the use of school time for PE as
opposed to academic subjects resulted in either imporvements or no change in
academic performance " (p. 244, italics in original).
Strong, W. B., Malina, R. M., Blimkie, C. J. R., Daniels, S. R., Dishman, R. K., Gutin, B., Trudeau,
F. (2005). Evidence Based Physical Activity for School-age Youth. The Journal of
Pediatrics, 146(6), 732-737. doi:
Systematic review of 850 research articles concludes that school-age children
should "participate every day in 60 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous
physical activity that is enjoyable and developmentally appropriate" (p. 736).
Taras, H. (2005). Physical Activity and Student Performance at School. Journal of School
Health, 75(6), 214-218. doi: 10.1111/j.1746-1561.2005.00026.x
"Although academic improvement may not improve because of a physical activity
program, there is an improved rate of academic learning per unit of class time. This
should help thwart concerns that time devoted to physical activity draws from
academic advancement in other subjects" (p.217).
"Do not expect academic improvement from physical activity, but expect improved
rate of academic learning per unit of class time. (p. 217).
*Tomporowski, P. D., Lambourne, K., & Okumura, M. S. (2011). Physical activity
interventions and children's mental function: An introduction and overview.
Preventive Medicine, 52, Supplement(0), S3-S9. doi:
"This review provides a historical overview of physical activity interventions....Prior
reviews of studies that assessed the effects of single acute bouts of exercise and the
effects of chronic exercise training on children's mental function were
examined....and summarized....[Discusses competing philosophies about physical
activity.] Results indicate that exercise fosters the emergence of children's mental
function; particularly executive functioning....and is likely moderated by several
variables, including physical fitness level, health status, and numerous psycho-social
factors. Conclusion: Physical activity interventions for children should be designed
to meet multiple objectives; e.g., optimize physical fitness, promote health-related
behaviors that offset obesity, and facilitate mental development" (p. S3).
Movement Facilitates Deep Processing (Content-specific Movement)
Anastopoulou, S., Sharples, M., & Baber, C. (2011). An evaluation of multimodal interactions
with technology while learning science concepts. British Journal of Educational
Technology, 42(2), 266-290. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8535.2009.01017.x
A study conducted with university students investigated "how students interpret
distance–time and velocity–time graphs created through hand movement. It
explored the dynamic coupling between their body movements and graphs, and
their subsequent interpretation and production of graphs on paper.
The results show that physical manipulation of kinematics graphs has a significantly
greater effect on students’ ability to relate graphs to movement than observing the
graphs being produced by someone else" (p. 271). While teaching, it is important to
repeately reinforce the connection between action and symbol.
Barsalou, L., Breazeal, C., & Smith, L. (2007). Cognition as coordinated non-cognition.
Cognitive Processing, 8(2), 79-91. doi: 10.1007/s10339-007-0163-1
Arguments are presented disputing assumptions that cognition consists of abstract
concepts stored in the mind and proposing instead that much of what humans know
about the world consists of the brain replaying and integrating previous perceptual,
motor, and introspective experiences.
"Knowledge has no existence separate from process, but is instead embedded in,
distributed across, and thus inseparable from real time processes.... From this
perspective, there is not a fixed and separate representation of anything" (p. 80).
*Barsalou, L. W. (2008). Grounded Cognition. Annual Review of Psychology, 59(1), 617-645.
doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.59.103006.093639
Compelling evidence is presented supporting the argument that the brain does not
primarily store and retrieve knowledge in the form of abstract symbols. Rather, the
process of creating cognitive meaning involves the brain actively referencing the
areas of the brain where perceptual, motor, and instrospectve experiences are
encoded. These findings have important implications for educational practice.
"When conceptual knowledge about objects is represented, brain areas that
represent their properties during perception and action become active" (p. 627).
Even, S. (2008). Moving in(to) Imaginary Worlds: Drama Pedagogy for Foreign Language
Teaching and Learning. Die Unterrichtspraxis / Teaching German, 41(2), 161-170.
doi: 10.1111/j.1756-1221.2008.00021.x
"Drama pedagogy stands out from other teaching and learning approaches in that
both kinesthetic and emotional dimensions are strongly brought into play—the
learners have to physically act within a given situation and empathize with others"
(p. 162)
"Learners are confronted with ficticious situations that require not only their
intellectual-linguistic faculties but also body language, joint negotion of meanings,
and emotional understanding. These kinesthetic, social, and empathic learning
moments make for intensive and lasting experiences with the foreign language,
literature, and culture" (p. 162).
"Imitating the sitting posture [of a statue referenced in the literature being studied]
helps learners get a bodily-kinesthetic impression of the statue, and the empathy
questions are designed to encourage them to develop their own thoughts and ideas
shaped by the position they have adopted" (p. 165).
*Gibbs Jr, R. W. (2006). Embodiment and cognitive science: Cambridge University Press.
This book describes the many ways that the mind and body are closely interrelated,
and how human thought and language are fundamentally linked to bodily action.
The embodied nature of mind is explored through many topics, such as perception,
thinking, language use, development, emotions, and consciousness. People's
embodied experiences are critical to the ways they think and speak and, most
generally, understand themselves, other people, and the world around them. This
work provides a strong defense of the idea that embodied action is critical to the
study of human cognition.
Goldin-Meadow, S., Cook, S. W., & Mitchell, Z. A. (2009). Gesturing Gives Children New Ideas
About Math. Psychological Science, 20(3), 267-272. doi: 10.2307/40575011
"Findings suggest that body movements are involved not only in processing old
ideas, but also in creating new ones" (p. 267).
"We found that children told to move their hands in a fully ocrrect rendition of a
particular problem-solving strategy (grouping) during a math lesson solved more
math problems correctly after the lesson than children told to move their hands in a
partially correct rendition of the strategy, who, in turn, solved more problems
correctly than children told not ot move their hands at all" (p. 270).
"The data...suggest that gesturing can facilitate learning by helping children extract
information from their own hand movements" (p. 270).
"These movements, which were likely to be meaningless to the cihldren initially,
began to take on menaing when produced in a supportive learning context (the
math lesson). We suggest that theis progression may be a general one—when
children first learn a task, the gestures they produce may not be fully imbued with
meaning. It may be only in the continued doing that these gestures take on their full
meaning" (p. 271).
"Body movements are also part of how people learn—they are involved not only in
processing old ideas, but also in creating new ones. The study thus highlights the
importance of motor learning even in nonmotor tasks”
(p. 271).
James, K. H. (2010). Sensori-motor experience leads to changes in visual processing in the
developing brain. Developmental Science, 13(2), 279-288. doi: 10.1111/j.14677687.2009.00883.x
“We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to compare brain
activation patterns in pre-school children before and after different letter-learning
conditions: a sensori-motor group practised printing letters during the learning
phase, while the control group practised visual recognition. Results...showed
enhanced blood oxygen-level-dependent activation in the visual association cortex
during letter perception only after sensori-motor (printing) learning. It is concluded
that sensori-motor experience augments processing in the visual system of preschool children. The change of activation in these neural circuits provides important
evidence that ‘learning-by-doing’ can lay the foundation for, and potentially
strengthen, the neural systems used for visual letter recognition" (p. 1467).
Two groups of pre-literate preschool children were taught letter recognition. Both
were taught the same lessons, except one group traced the letters in addition to
learning to recognize them visually. While all children in both groups were able to
recognize letters at the end of the study, scans of brain function (fMRI) showed
much stronger brain activity during letter recognition in the the children who had
physically traced letters than those who had learned to recognize them solely
through vision and speech.
*Kontra, C., Goldin-Meadow, S., & Beilock, S. L. (2012). Embodied Learning Across the Life
Span. Topics in Cognitive Science, 4(4), 731-739. doi: 10.1111/j.17568765.2012.01221.x
"Theories of embodiment can shed light on the role of action experience in early
learning contexts, and further that these theories hold promise for using action to
scaffold learning in more formal educational settings later in development" (p. 731).
“Gesture is often considered to function primarily for communicative purposes (and
thus to primarily impact the listener), but a large body of research investigates the
way a speaker’s gesture affects his or her own cognition….Gesture may act to
represent physical qualities and thus, ground a concept in sensorimotor regions of
the cortex” (pp. 734-735).
[The following quotations refer to undergraduate students performing the Tower of
Hanoi task.]
“Gesture, as a form of action experience, can influence thought and subsequent
learning…. In this case, action experience [which was deliberately manipulated to
contradict the expected results] harmed subsequent performance on a cognitive
task” (p. 735).
“Doing a relevant action leads to enhanced learning over passively viewing that
action” (p. 736, italics in original).
Regarding a college physics class: “Although the students in the Action and
Observation groups were matched in terms of accuracy on the pretest, students in
the Action group improved significantly in accuracy at post-test, whereas students
in the Observation group did not. Something about participants’ action experience
changed the way they learned” (p. 736)
Latham, S. O., & Stockman, I. J. (2014). Effect of Augmented Sensorimotor Input on Learning
Verbal and Nonverbal Tasks Among Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 44(6), 1288-1302. doi:
"Children...with autism spectrum disorders, ages 4–14 years, were...randomly
assigned to one of two conditions for learning a novel juice-making task and
producing two novel words about the event. Seventeen sighted children were
manually guided to perform the task and tactually prompted during imitated
productions of novel words for the event. Their matched controls heard the novel
words and watched the juice-making task being performed. Performances on four
verbal and two nonverbal measures right after instruction and at 24–48 h postinstruction, revealed higher scores for the ‘hands-on’, participation than observation
group on both verbal and nonverbal tasks. This study offers a paradigm for
exploring the instructional advantage of enhanced participatory experience" (p.
Lieberman, J., & Breazeal, C. (2007). TIKL: Development of a Wearable Vibrotactile
Feedback Suit for Improved Human Motor Learning. Robotics, IEEE Transactions on,
23(5), 919-926. doi: 10.1109/TRO.2007.907481
Account of a study exploring real-time physical feedback from a specially designed
garment on the development of motor skills.
McMahon, S. D., Rose, D. S., & Parks, M. (2003). Basic Reading Through Dance Program: The
Impact on First-Grade Students’ Basic Reading Skills. Evaluation Review, 27(1), 104125. doi: 10.1177/0193841x02239021
"The results of this study are overwhelmingly positive regarding the impact of the
BRD [Basic Reading through Dance] program on first-grade students’ reading
abilities. The program was so successful in the areas of consonants, vowels, and
overall phoneme segmentation, that BRD students started out lower than control
students and then actually performed better than the control students on the
posttest. In 3 months of first-grade reading instruction, the program took lowperforming readers and turned them into significantly better readers. Because of
the rigor of the research design, we can be quite confident in concluding that the
program, and not extraneous factors, caused increases in students’ reading abilities
that far exceeded increases observed with other methods of reading instruction" (p.
"Students who participated in the BRD program significantly outperformed their
peers in every area of reading measured for this study" (p. 120).
Plummer, J. D. (2009). Early elementary students' development of astronomy concepts in
the planetarium. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 46(2), 192-209. doi:
"Students in early elementary school are capable of learning the accurate
description of apparent celestial motion. The results also demonstrate the value of
both kinesthetic learning techniques and the rich visual environment of the
planetarium for improved understanding of celestial motion" (p. 192).
Richards, T. (2012). Using Kinesthetic Activities to Teach Ptolemaic and Copernican
Retrograde Motion. Science & Education, 21(6), 899-910. doi: 10.1007/s11191-0109265-8
Kinesthetic learning activities were shown to be effective in increased test scores of
university students studying theories of planetary motion. Author suggests that
students learned more accurately and deeply through multiple modalities and
recalled more effectively because of the way the information was encoded.
Skerry, A. E., Carey, S. E., & Spelke, E. S. (2013). First-person action experience reveals
sensitivity to action efficiency in prereaching infants. Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 110(46), 18728-18733. doi:
“Consistent with prior research, infants exhibited understanding of others’ actions
only when they had produced similar actions themselves. However, infants
exhibited expectations about action efficiency that went beyond what could be
learned from the training, suggesting that some knowledge of goal-directed action
precedes this first-person motoric experience" (p. 18728).
*Smith, L. B., & Sheya, A. (2010). Is Cognition Enough to Explain Cognitive Development?
Topics in Cognitive Science, 2(4), 725-735. doi: 10.1111/j.1756-8765.2010.01091.x
Presents the neurological argument that “cognition may be inseparable from
processes of perceiving and acting” (p. 725).
"Newer research indicates that knowledge is embedded in, distributed acress, and
thus inseparable from noncognitive processes of perceiving and acting. Indeed,
cognition may simply be the operation of a complex system of noncognitive
processes" (p. 725).
Citing the James (2010) study of preschoolers learning letters: “Using pre-and
posttraining functional magnetic resonance imaging to compare brain activation
patterns, James found that only children trained in seeing while writing showed
enhanced (and more adult-like)…activation in the visual association cortex during a
visual letter perception task. These children, but not those who learned letters
through a purely visual recognition task, also showed (as do adults) activation in
motor regions to the mere visual presentation of letters. The implication is clear:
The functional connectivity of visual and motor areas in a task of joint seeing and
doing creates more specialized and expert-like visual processing” (p. 728).
Tomlinson, B., & Masuhara, H. (2009). Playing to Learn: A Review of Physical Games in
Second Language Acquisition. Simulation & Gaming, 40(5), 645-668. doi:
“This language is totally contextualized by the game and made comprehensible
through actually playing the game (and observing others playing it) rather than just
being told about it. The learners are typically… positive, engaged, and relaxed (in
the sense of not worrying about the language). The language the students
experience in the game is salient and meaningful, and it is repeated many times in
different ways. Also the processing of the language is potentially deep (in the sense
that it is semantically focused, and it is meaningful to the learners)" (pp. 649-650).
Watson, A. (2005). Dance and mathematics: Engaging senses in learning. Australian Senior
Mathematics Journal, 19(1), 16.
"This paper...illustrate[s] how kinaesthetic experiences associated with dance might
be used in teaching to promote engagement and learning in spatial, rhythmic,
structural and symbolic aspects of mathematics" (p. 16).
Weggelaar, C. (2006). Kinesthetic feedback and dyslexic students learning to read and write.
A Review of General Semantics, 63(2), 144.
“Our verbal descriptions are abstractions from non-verbal experiences.” Students
with dyslexia need instructional support with preverbal experiences" p. 144.
Zhang, J., Sung, Y.T., Hou, H.T., & Chang, K.E. (2014). The development and evaluation of an
augmented reality-based armillary sphere for astronomical observation instruction.
Computers & Education, 73(0), 178-188. doi:
"Based on kinesthetic learning style theory and interviews regarding teachers'
experiences applying traditional astronomy teaching methods, a mobile digital
armillary sphere (MDAS) using augmented reality (AR) was developed for use
during astronomical observation instruction. The MDAS enables visual processes
and limb movements similar to those that would occur in actual outdoor
experiences....200 fifth-grade students were selected as participants....The
experimental results indicated that using the MDAS system during outdoor
observation activities effectively enhanced both the students' learning of
astronomical observation content and their performance of astronomical
observation skills. In addition, use of the MDAS effectively increased students'
interest in astronomical observations and learning, which had a substantial effect on
retention" (p. 178).
Practice Makes Permanent (or Practice Rewires the Brain)
*Beilock, S. L., Lyons, I. M., Mattarella-Micke, A., Nusbaum, H. C., & Small, S. L. (2008). Sports
Experience Changes the Neural Processing of Action Language. Proceedings of the
National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 105(36), 13269-13273.
doi: 10.2307/25464033
"When individuals hear language about action, they actaivate neural networks
involved in producing these actions" (p. 13269).
"The more hockey experience individuals had (ranging from novices to fans to
players), the more effective they were in comprehending hockey
sentences….Substantial prior experience viewing and performing ice-hockey actions
enhances hockey-language comprehension, likely by enabling individuals to
associate linguistically described action scenarios with motor plans for execution.
This ability, in turn, gives individuals the type of robust and multimodal
representation that is the hallmark of optimal comprehension" (p. 13271).
"The neural substrates governing both observation of another's actions and
imagining one's own actions differ as a function of whether these actions are part of
one's preexisting motor skill repertoire. Experienced actors call on brain regions
implicated in higher-level action planning and selection more so than do those
without experience" (p. 13272).
Note: Comprehension may suffer in novices who do not have motor skills in their
preexisting repertoire, and who therefore must spend the bulk of their cognitive
energies concentrating on simply performing the motor skill rather than accessing
the higher-level action plans that are already in place in experienced athletes.
“Experience alters the extent to which premotor and primary sensory-motor cortex
are called on during language listening, which, in turn, produces differences in
comprehension….These brain and behavioral changes reflect a deeper level of
language understanding that is not only achieved by experience on the playing field
or ice-rink, but also enhanced by experience in the viewing stands” (p. 13272).
*Cross, E., & Ticini, L. (2012). Neuroaesthetics and beyond: new horizons in applying the
science of the brain to the art of dance. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences,
11(1), 5-16. doi: 10.1007/s11097-010-9190-y
"One of the first of these studies investigated how prior dance experience influences
perception of different styles of dance movement....Viewing one's own movement
vocabulary resulted in stronger [brain] activation than viewing the movement
vocabulary from a dance style with which one lacks expertise" (p.9).
In "a related study...they followed a company of modern dancers as they
learned...intricate and complex choreography to...a demanding 25-minute modern
dance work....As the dancers transitioned from being inexperienced with performing
the work to being highly adept performers, neural responses increased
significantly....These changes in the brain do not require years of rehearsal to
manifest—a mere 6 weeks of rehearsal is enough to see marked changes in neural
response profiles" (p, 9).
Gray, R., & Beilock, S. L. (2011). Hitting is contagious: Experience and action induction.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 17(1), 49-59. doi: 10.1037/a0022846
In baseball, it is believed that “hitting is contagious,” that is, probability of success
increases if the previous few batters get a hit. Could this effect be partially explained
by action induction—that is, the tendency to perform an action related to one that
has just been observed? A simulation was used to investigate the effect of inducing
stimuli on batting performance for more-experienced (ME) and less-experienced
(LE) baseball players. .... For both ME and LE players, fewer pitchers were required
for a successful hit in the action condition. For ME players, there was a significant
relationship between the inducing stimulus direction and hit direction for both the
action and outcome prompts. For LE players, the prompt only had a significant effect
on batting performance in the action condition, and the magnitude of the effect was
significantly smaller than for ME. The effect of the inducing stimulus decreased as
the delay (i.e., no. of pitches between prompt and hit) increased, with the effect
being eliminated after roughly 4 pitches for ME and 2 pitches for LE. It is proposed
that the differences in the magnitude and time course of action induction as a
function of experience occurred because ME have more well-developed perceptualmotor representations for directional hitting"
(p. 49).
*Naito, E., & Hirose, S. (2014). Efficient foot motor control by Neymar’s brain. Frontiers in
Human Neuroscience, 8, 594, 1-7.
doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00594
“The relatively small size of the medial-wall activations during foot movements in
professional footballers…seems to generally fit with previous findings in musicians
(pianists, keyboard players and drummers), i.e., reduced recruitment of motor areas
during finger movements compared with musically naïve control” (p. 6).
“Neymar may efficiently control foot movements by largely conserving motorcortical neural resources probably with higher reproducibility and less effort.…It is
intriguing to speculate that conserving motorcortical resources when performing
simple foot movement may in turn expand the possible control capacity for a wide
range of football skills since the remaining resources can be assigned to control a
variety of movements of lower extremities. We may also assume that this
fundamental capability of his football brain could allow him to spend neural
resources to focus more on cognitive aspects during a football game, such as
anticipating/predicting and detecting the actions of other players” (p. 6).
Sheets-Johnstone, M. (2012). From movement to dance. Phenomenology and the Cognitive
Sciences, 11(1), 39-57. doi: 10.1007/s11097-011-9200-8
The author quotes Merce Cunningham as saying: "A large gamut of movements,
separate for each of the three dances, as devised, movements for the arms, the legs,
the head and the torso which were separate and essentially ensile in character, and
off the normal or tranquil body-balance. The separate movements were arranged in
continuity by random means, allowing for the superimposition (addition) of one or
more, each having its own rhythm and time-length. But each succeeded in becoming
continuous if I could wear it long enough, like a suit of clothes. (Cunningham 2011,
Watson, A. H. D. (2006). What can studying musicians tell us about motor control of the
hand? Journal of Anatomy, 208(4), 527-542. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7580.2006.00545.x
“Even when limited to fifteen months in childhood, musical training drives an
increase in grey matter for areas involved in motor, auditory, and visuo–spatial
processing. Similarly, an increase in cerebellar volume, presumably in response to
the intensity of instrumental practice in musicians, suggests structural
reorganization induced by long-term motor and cognitive demands derived from
intense music-related auditory and motor practice” (p. 2).
“Musicians showed significantly more symmetrical responses to music listening
…than nonmusicians” (p. 7).
“Rather than being confined only to motor and perceptual processes, the demands
of musicianship are complex and multimodal, supported by several skills developed
during years of study. These include bottom-up skills such as the ability to perceive
and distinguish the physical properties of music, and top-down skills such as the
ability to predict musical events based on prior musical exposure” (p. 12).