Goal setting,  Professional Development,  Research

Action Research Project – Motion – Part 2

an evening stroll

An Evening Stroll by Doug Waldron CC BY SA

In January I blogged about all of the ideas that were swimming and growing in my brain to do with an Action Research Project I would like to do.  I  have had almost two months to let these fester and take shape as well as enjoying some amazing conversations with different #Physed people who have kindly shared their ideas and more importantly their own research and findings to enable me to consider my plan.

Dean Dudley (@deandudley) is a Senior Lecturer and Researcher at Macquarie University in Sydney, Aus.  He has been very generous with his time and his data and experience in researching students in schools and has allowed for me to chat out some ideas.  We talked thoroughly about different options for tracking movement; playtime use of spaces and how to consider ideas for using our small spaces more effectively.  After much debate and thinking I have come to these conclusions:

  • I have two months to really get data
  • I would need to include a lot of teachers to collect playtime/lunch-recess data and I am not sure they would embrace this extra job
  • It is a lot of data collection and possible video footage to collect, and although the apps shared are easy to use (very) I still think that the data would be challenging to actually collect.
  • I can’t oversee this very well, I am a bit wanting to be hands-on with this one so need to be very involved
  • I want to know about the whole day, I already am aware that the play situation is an issue at our school and feel that I could propose change here easily already,  no data really needed

The next person I have been chatting to is Aaron Beighle (@Aaronbeighle) who is a professor in Kentucky, USA.  He has also been very much involved in collecting motion data from schools and working with schools and districts to improve the Physical Activity in their spaces.  I have met Aaron and he is highly infections and positive, this is clear from his passion about this work.  He has worked with Pedometers before and has collected data from a range of age groups on their movement in a school day.  After talking to Aaron and looking about me at YIS, I knew that this is the research that I am interested in. 

I have decided what I want to find out:

What are the Physical Activity (PAs) opportunities that YIS offers Students while they are at our small campus school?  Is there any difference between ES,MS and HS students?

I am still working on the actual collection of data here, but hope that I can compare two different groups of students movements over a certain time period. I want to know if we actually have an issue, or if there is nothing to worry about.  Other things I am keen to find out if possible from this data set:

  • Is there a difference between girls and boys PA?
  • What are our averages for students (boys/girls) and ages?  Does this meet any of the averages for students/ages in other data sets in other countries?
  • Are there peaks/troughs of activities?  Are PAs only occurring in some areas? (eg. is Playtime/recess the main place or subjects like PE or Drama, do other subjects have motion or is it sitting for 1 hour/ move/ sitting for 1 hour move etc)
  • Do our students move enough in our campus?  Do they need to look at the timetable to room students according to distance they need to travel?
  • If I could I would love to collect teacher data too, this could be really an interesting study for the adults that live particularly in one classroom their whole day.
  • If we can, could our non-play spaces turn into Play spaces (eg. corridors)
  • If we can could we use or incorporate some changes such as furniture that allows for different movement options?

How will I collect data?

At the moment I am hoping to have one Grade 5 class and then one Grade 8 class wear pedometers for up to 10 school days.  Dean wisely shared with me that it takes about 3 days for the students to stop playing with the pedometers and just forget they are there, and then the last two days tend to be forgotten recording days.  Then you can look at the middle 4-5 days of data.

I hope that the students can record their steps and subject/playtime in a paper sheet and that we can have automatic email alerts or some other way to remind teachers that they need to complete the step count at significant times of the day.

I hope that this sheet can record simple information such as gender/name etc and then that I can correlate the PA (steps counted) and the activity/class the students are in.  I hope then that we could potentially pinpoint areas of high activity and areas where there are stretches of no activity, although with the devices I have, it won’t be very accurate.

I am looking forward to talking to Aaron and to Dean again in the next week to finalise these details and then start my conversations with teachers so I can hopefully begin collecting data in April.

If you would like to share in this or have ideas to add, please do let me know via twitter (@mjhamada) or add a comment below.  Thank you in advance.


  • mhamada

    Hello Cindy, thanks for your comment. I think you and I could be observing the same group of students! I am trying to get to the bottom of a range of things, I think at the moment for YIS that the HS students do sports ‘try-outs’ which then means if you aren’t good enough for the team you don’t play and this accumulation of non-playing vs the kids who do play each year means the gap grows, and I wonder if many girls feel that they are then not feeling like they can perform in a sports space. I also think that the IB could do a better job of front loading ideas for teachers about how to teach the set program with more motion breaks (not just the school). We run a 1x week session for G11 and G12 with a wide range of activities based on their interests (survey at the start of the year) and also what we feel is a good mix to allow them to enter university or work with confidence to know how to play or do any activity that might come their way. I appreciate your comments, and am hoping that with data from our school and some research from other data collections that we can see some changes to promote PA further here.

  • Cindy

    Hi Mel,
    Thanks for sharing your ideas and direction for your research project. I haven’t read as much on this topic but am interested in your project both as a PHE educator and teacher in an IB school. From my own observations, I’ve noticed that our MS students begin to decrease their PA activity levels outside of PHE class during free activity time to an almost non existent level once they reach the senior grades. Many students feel they don’t have time to be active because they need to study and focus on the diploma. Do you notice the same pattern in your school? If not, what does your school have in place to encourage/maintain active movement/participation in physical activity (e.g., school sport or intramurals)? I’d like to keep our students moving, in or out of organized activity, and develop a healthy, active lifestyle. Our biggest decline is with female students who decrease or eliminate physical activity aside from required movement to get to class or the coffee shop. Thanks for sharing. Best of luck with your research.

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