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Exercise Science student and faculty present research

Caroline York recently presented her research examining the impact of ExerGaming on academic achievement and cognitive function at the American College of Sports Medicine’s Conference on Physical Activity, Cognitive Function, and Academic Achievement in Washington, D.C.

The conference was the first of its kind examining this relationship. York’s co-authors were Walter Bixby and Eric Hall, faculty members in the Department of Exercise Science. York is an Exercise Science major and Elon College Fellow.

The abstract for York’s presentation is below.

Examination of the Impact of an Active Video Game on Academic Achievement

As childhood obesity rates rise to new levels and physical education and recess are removed from school systems, there is an increasing need for research on the impact physical activity has upon children’s cognitive function and academic achievement. Physical activity has an increasing number of associations to improved cognitive functioning and enhanced brain activity (Hillman, Erickson, & Kramer, 2008). ExerGaming, in which the person becomes the controller and is required to move to be successful in a game, is becoming more popular and requiring more movement to be successful. PURPOSE: To compare cognitive function assessed with a standardized test following an active video game and an inactive video game. METHODS: Fourteen participants (12 male) with a mean age of 10.9 (0.93) completed 2 days of testing. Each day was the same with the exception of the video game played. One day participants’ played an active game using the Xbox Kinect system and the other day they played an inactive game on the Xbox. The order of days was counterbalanced. Participants played the video game assigned for that day for between 20 – 25 minutes depending on when a level ended. Following completion of the video game participants participated in an Electroencephalographic (EEG) study which took 20 minutes to administer. Participants’ then completed the Wide Range Achievement Test 4 (WRAT4), which is a measure used to assess Word Reading (WR), Sentence Comprehension (SC), Spelling (S), Math Computation (MC), and Reading Composite (RC). When the WRAT was completed the participants were free to leave. RESULTS: Repeated Measures ANOVA revealed non-significant differences on all measures between the active and non-active games; WR, F(1, 12) = 2.71, p = .15; SC, F(1, 11) = .029, p = .87; S, F(1, 12) = .48, p = .50; MC, F(1, 12) = .04, p = .85; RC, F(1, 12) = 1.47, p = .25. DISCUSSION: At current, the results do not support the idea that active video games can improve performance on standardized testing compared to inactive video games. While this is contrary to the hypothesis for this study and previous literature, the sample size is small with large variation in the scores achieved. Further data collection is planned with the hopes of increasing the power of the study. Active video games hold promise to increase the physical activity of children regardless of whether or not improvements in standardized testing occur. At worst, participants will see health benefits from participation in active games when compared to inactive games.

Wally Bixby,
12/12/2011 9:39 AM