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An investigation of the effects of physical activity on adolescents’ academic performance through an assessment of cognitive abilitiesName: Mohamed Kasem SaberZewail City of Science and TechnologyID: 201601144 Instructor: Mrs. Hend ElsheikhI. Abstract: Low academic performance has been a noticeable problem for more than 10 years, both internationally and locally, despite the large budget investments in education development. The purpose of this study is to determine the effects of physical activity solely on academic performance. The study will be conducted in a boarding school and last for a complete semester. 150 participants will be randomly chosen after passing an exclusion criteria to eliminate all participants with a BMI higher than 25 kg/m2, the physically impaired and those who are already following a physical activity routine or repeating courses. Participants are to be divided into a control, attending music or seminar sessions, and an experimental group, attending a physical activity program. All participants’ cognitive ability and physical fitness should be assessed before and after the experiment, then each student’s scores should be compared to him/herself. It is expected that the experimental group would achieve higher scores in cognitive abilities and academic performance tests, while the control group shall experience no improvement. The Results shall illustrate the importance of physical education programs, and help academic specialists develop efficient plans that should increase students’ academic gaining. II. Introduction & Literature review:According to Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 1, the United States’ academic performance maintained a stagnant ranking (around average) since 2006, while other countries such as Singapore and Macau are in nearly constant development. In a more recent study conducted in 2015 by the Federal Education Department, a decline in the average math scores of fourth and eighth graders was evident 2. Moreover, a study conducted by the CATO institute showed that the US government has tripled the education funding since 1972; however, the students’ SATs and general academic performance showed no development 3. The problem is not only present internationally, but also locally. Egypt’s average score in mathematics and science did not increase since 2007, maintaining a lagging rank between 35-38 4, 5. Academic performance has been a hot topic for researchers, and many studies have investigated several correlations and possible solutions for the problem. Academic performance has been found to be associated with a number of factors both psychological 6 and physiological such as motor skills, physical fitness and obesity  7, 8, 9, 10 . According to 11, physical fitness is defined as a collective measurement of most body functions (skeletomuscular, cardiorespiratory, hematocirculatory, psychoneurological and endocrine–metabolic) that are strongly associated with daily physical activity. Physical activity (PA), however, is defined to be any body movement that induces an increased energy expenditure in muscles 11. In fact, these broad definitions drew the attention of many researchers to investigate the diverse effects of different intensities of physical activity on several aspects, one of which is academic performance. 12 Defines academic performance as an assessment performed by the school to evaluate the process of learning for each student. In their research, the authors argue that in an education system, students are responsible for organizing knowledge and developing their own objectives to better understand the materials being studied. Thus, an evaluation of cognitive functions provides an accurate insight of students’ academic performance. Cognitive functions could be divided to 4 main cognitive processes: attention, executive function, memory and language, each having a significant relationship with students’ abilities in math, science and reading 12. Furthermore, Cognition, presented as the hippocampus, plays a substantial role in relational memory, an important factor strongly associated with academic performance. Also, it is shown that the hippocampus plays a vital role in the learning strategies 13. This ideology is present throughout the reviewed literature and also in this study. Consequently, the relationship between physical activity and academic performance is mostly best measured through an assessment of cognitive functions or hippocampal health. One recent study has investigated the effect of a 10 minutes physical exercise on the attention and concentration of students aged 13-16. It was found that, attention and concentration performance in the experimental groups were enhanced after an exercise session, due to the stimulation of neuronal connection between the cerebellum and the frontal cortex 14. In another study, researchers attempted to explore the effects of aerobic exercises on academic performance. They concluded that physical activity significantly influenced students’ reading, writing, mathematics and science grades 15. Nonetheless, research has shown that physical activity mediates a positive relationship between motor functions and academic performance. A study conducted in Northern Finland recorded both self and parent reported data of physical activity and motor functions of 8,061 children at age 8, then measured the subjects’ academic achievement at age 16. The study yielded that well-developed gross-motor skills have a positive influence on adolescents’ later academic abilities 7. These findings are further supported by the findings of 9, as the study yielded a similar conclusion that there exists a correlation between reading ability and locomotor performance. Moreover, researchers found a positive relationship between physical activity and cognitive abilities 16, 17. One study measured physical activity and sedentary time for seven consecutive days of 224 students from 5 different schools. The authors then assessed students’ cognitive functions including visual memory, executive functions and attention. The results of the study indicated that physical activity may benefit attentional processes and in turn help with academic performance 16. Another study investigated whether high-intensity intervals of physical activity can improve selective attention, an important variable in learning and academic performance 17. The study concluded that short breaks of full body physical activity can improve selective attention in 9- to 11-year olds, consequently improving academic performance 17. Finally, previous research suggests a relationship between physical activity and mental health. Physical activity was found to have a positive effect on several psychological aspects such as: anxiety, stress and depression, through biochemical and physiological mechanisms, including endorphins, mitochondria, mammalian target of rapamycin and neurotransmitters 18. In addition, another study supported these findings, as they found that an improved cardiorespiratory fitness has both short and long-term positive effects on anxiety, depression, mood status and self-esteem 11. It is generally accepted that an improved psychology could indeed boost academic performance and improve students’ gaining 11.A thorough review of previous research clearly suggests a positive relationship between constant physical activity levels and academic performance. Previous research attempted to determine the sole impact of physical activity on academic performance; however, those attempts were mostly interrupted by various confounding variables that were difficult to control all at once, yet were too involved to be neglected such as: family roles, nutrition and home environment by which this study attempts to eliminate 8. The purpose of this study is to determine the sole effect of physical activity on academic performance in terms of students’ cognitive functions, represented by attention, executive function, memory and language 8. Cognitive abilities reflect students’ academic performance more accurately than GPA or other academic achievement measurements that depend on collective attributes besides performance such as attendance or assignment submissions 13. Conducting the study in a semi-isolated environment, a boarding school, minimizes the considerable effects of the mentioned confounding variables. The present study exclusively provides quantitative data addressing the sole effect of physical activity on student’s academic performance. As such, it assists school administrators and academic specialists while developing and executing plans to improve students’ gaining on the academic level.III. Methodology:A. Research ParadigmUsing a quantitative research paradigm. B. ParticipantsThe study is to be conducted on boarding school students. 150 participants will be randomly chosen of age group 13 to 16. We will exclude students with BMI higher than 25 kg/m2, the physically impaired and those who are already following a physical activity routine or repeating courses. Then, participants and their parents would have to sign a consent to participate in the study. Afterwards, participants will be equally divided into two groups. The experimental group should enroll in a physical activity program, while the control group should attend other programs such as music or seminar sessions. Both groups would spend the same period of time in their programs to equalize the amount of free time they have for studying. C. Procedure and timeline A boarding school was chosen to perform the program at. This is necessary to eliminate the influence of family roles, gender or home environments and to enforce a regulated diet on all participants. In addition, the exclusion criteria should be strictly followed to eliminate the influences of physical impairment and obesity on the tests. Following these techniques would minimize the effects of the extraneous variables. The data collected should include quantitative data about the physical status, academic performance and cognitive ability of the participants. The data is to be gathered through the following tests: Fitnessgram, KABC, K- BIT and CAMS  The Fitnessgram assesses the physical activity of the individuals, depending on cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility and body composition 19. Criterion-referenced reliabilities were very good to generally acceptable for all FITNESSGRAM test items 20. K-BIT, Kaufman Brief Intelligence and KABC, Kaufman assessment battery for children , and the Stroop test assess executive functions and have shown to be the most sensitively influenced by exercise 21,22,23. K-BIT and KABC kits will be employed to measure verbal intelligence through crystallized ability and nonverbal intelligence through fluid reasoning. Both tests have proven to be valid in estimating general intellectual abilities 24. Thirdly, the Stroop test has proven to provide valid insight on the ability to use cognitive functions. It is also specific in differentiating children with learning disabilities 25,26. Finally, the Child Academic Monitoring System (CAMS) assesses academic achievement of children 27. Grade point average (GPA) is not taken into consideration because it does not solely present academic achievement resulting from improved cognitive abilities. Each test should be conducted twice, before and after the experiment, to accurately compare the state of the participants after the experiment and prior to it. The experiment should last for a whole academic semester and be conducted as follows: First week:Perform the exclusion criteria of all participants.Inform the students about the program instructions.Assign the subjects randomly to a control and an experimental group.Record the results of fitnessgram, CAMS and KABC tests and initialize the data profile of each subject. Second week till the end of the semester:The experimental group should follow a physical education program that includes calisthenics and cardio exercises, 4 sessions a week.The control group should attend seminars of equivalent duration as the physical education program in the same allotted time for the physical education sessions.Both groups should commence their instructions as instructed.Last week of the semester :·         All participants should:1)Take the fitnessgram, CAMS and KABC tests again.2)Be disclaimed that physical exercises must be executed as advised to avoid potential muscle or joint damage. D. Data analysis and expected results5.1.Data analysis:Researchers would use ANOVA analysis, variance and statistical significance tests to find the relation between improvement in physical activity and academic performance and cognitive functions through quantitative measurements. In addition, each subject would be compared to himherself before and after the experiment in terms of cognitive abilities and physical activities.5.1.Expected results:The experimental group attending P.E classes would possess higher physical fitness and cognition results than the control group. These higher numbers are expected to be associated with higher academic performance than the control group. Then we could conclude that improvement in physical fitness directly causes improvements in academic performance. The study results would be published in academic and educational research Journals.E. Risks/BenefitsNo health risks are associated with the proposed program, especially that students with already-known physical impairments will be excluded. Yet, in case of students who are unaware of their health status, this can help discovering students with anaemia, blood-pressure problems or other cardiac problems who can visit specialists to follow their cases. Furthermore, psychological effects are not studied.F. BudgetItemcostcommentsK-BITkit$263.95 from pearson clinical websiteKABCkit$963.05from wps publish websiteFitnessgram renewal price$199from The cooper institute website the standard three subjects tests and their standard grades (for CAMS test) $200Food supplies(diet)$10,00020%, of $50,000 ( total diet’s cost)employees$300supervising the program Total11,926References1OECD (2010), PISA 2009 Results: What Students Know and Can Do: Student Performance in Reading, Mathematics and Science (Volume I), OECD Publishing, Paris. “Mathematics and reading assessments,” The nation’s report card, 2015, Available at: A. J. Coulson., “State Education Trends: Academic Performance and Spending over the Past 40 Years”, Policy Analysis/ CATO institute, no. 746, 20144 “TIMSS 2007 User Guide for the International Database,” TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center, Lynch School of Education, United States, 2009, Available at: “TIMSS 2015 International Results in Mathematics,” TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center, Lynch School of Education, United States, 2016, Available at: King, E. Lembke and W. Reinke, “Using latent class analysis to identify academic and behavioral risk status in elementary students.”, 2017. 7M. Kantomaa, E. Stamatakis, A. Kankaanpaa, M. Kaakinen, A. Rodriguez, A. Taanila, T. Ahonen, M. Jarvelin and T. Tammelin, “Physical activity and obesity mediate the association between childhood motor function and adolescents’ academic achievement”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 110, no. 5, pp. 1917-1922, 2012.8P. Tomporowski, C. Davis, P. Miller and J. Naglieri, “Exercise and Children’s Intelligence, Cognition, and Academic Achievement”, Educational Psychology Review, vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 111-131, 2007.9M. Westendorp, E. Hartman, S. Houwen, J. Smith and C. Visscher, “The relationship between gross motor skills and academic achievement in children with learning disabilities”, Research in Developmental Disabilities, vol. 32, no. 6, pp. 2773-2779, 2011.10J. John, Keays and Kenneth R. Allison, “The Effects of Regular Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity on Student Outcomes: A Review”, Canadian Journal of Public Health, vol. 86, no. 1, pp. 62-65, 199511 F. Ortega, J. Ruiz, M. Castillo and M. Sjöström, “Physical fitness in childhood and adolescence: a powerful marker of health”, International Journal of Obesity, vol. 32, no. 1, pp. 1-11, 2007.12 L. Puerta, “Relationship between cognitive processes and academic performance in high school students”, Psychologia, vol. 9, no. 2, p. 85, 2015.13 K. Hassevoort, N. Khan, C. Hillman and N. Cohen, “Childhood Markers of Health Behavior Relate to Hippocampal Health, Memory, and Academic Performance”, Mind, Brain, and Education, vol. 10, no. 3, pp. 162-170, 2016.14 B. Henning, V. R. Claudia, P. K. Sascha, R. Pedro and T. Gunter, “Acute coordinative exercise improves attentional performance in adolescents.”, Neuroscience Letters, 2008. Accessed: 25- Nov- 2017. 15 K. A. Lorenza., M. Stylianoub., S. Moorec., and P. H. Kulinnac., “Does fitness make the grade? The relationship between elementary students’ physical fitness and academic grades” Health Education Journal, 2016. 16 H.J. Syvaoja, T.H. Tammelin, T.Ahonen, A.Kankaanpaa, M.T. Kantomaa, “The associations of objectively measured physical activity and sedentary time with cognitive functions in school-aged children,” PLoS ONE, vol.9, no.7, Jul.2014.Online Available: K. Jasmin,  L. Le Mare, and B. Gurd, “Four minutes of in-class high-intensity interval activity improves selective attention in 9- to 11-year olds”,Appl. 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