Movement Learning

I remember in elementary school I was forced, or highly encouraged, to learn twenty or more vocab words for a weekly vocabulary quiz. The quiz would be a mix of fill in the blank, matching and context questions that I’d cram to study for the night before. As I think back on my study methods, which always included flash cards, I distinctively remember “moving around” while I studied.

This may have included a walk down my driveway, around the neighborhood block or simply around my house.

A new blog post by Seth Roberts discusses the theory of movement learning:

Five years after my own experience as a third-grade teacher in Illinois, I was training teachers at the University of Washington and received a federally funded grant to conduct research in the Seattle Public Schools. During the 1977 school year, 250 students from four elementary schools studied language arts concepts through movement and dance activities for twenty weeks. The third grade students involved in the study increased their MAT [?] scores by 13 percent from fall to spring, while the district wide average showed a decrease of 2 percent! The primary grade project [?] students also showed a great improvement in test scores. Most significant was the direct relationship the research showed between the amount of movement the classroom teacher used and the percentage increase of students’ test scores.

It turns out my elementary school theory wasn’t necessarily correct, but it’s been shared and possibly been reinforced elsewhere.

Learning takeaway: encourage students to experiment with study methods that include a second variable besides blankly reading or memorizing, such as walking, lifting weights or running on a treadmill.