Steven Bednar presents research at Yale University workshop
The associate professor of economics discussed his research on the effect of breaks on student productivity.
Steven Bednar, associate professor of economics in the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business, recently presented his research at the Labor/Public Economics Prospectus Workshop at Yale University.
Hosted by the Department of Economics, the workshop series presents labor economics and public finance research in progress.
Bednar discussed his study, “The Effect of Breaks on Student Productivity: Evidence from Physical Education,” which he co-authored with Katy Rouse, associate professor of economics at Elon University.
The paper’s abstract reads: “A growing body of literature suggests that the timing of student learning can be an important determinant of student success, with students performing better in morning classes rather than afternoon classes. We explore how the timing of physical education (PE) classes during the school day may be used to boost student productivity when schools are faced with constraints which limit their ability to place all students in core academic subjects in the mornings. PE causes a break from academic learning. This can be disruptive if students are actively engaged but it can also help fatigued students rebound. We develop a simple theoretical model of these competing effects that predicts that the disruptive effect dominates in the morning and the rebounding effect dominates in the afternoon. Using data from 2003-2012 on student schedules and learning outcomes from a large school district in a state that requires 400 minutes of PE every ten days for students in the sixth through eighth grades, we provide evidence that the timing of breaks matters differentially throughout the day as suggested by the theory for a composite math test given at the end of the year. Further, there appear to be spillover effects, where students perform better in the afternoon when more of their peers have had a break. We provide some evidence that the break before an afternoon class helps students focus, which leads to an environment more conducive to learning for all students.”