Home » General News

Move, Sweat, and Learn

How to conduct research with physical activity data technologies

12 March 2012 0 Comments

In recent years technological devices have been utilized by athletes to collect data about their bodies, exercise habits, and general physical activity. With state of the art advances from athletic companies such as Garmin, Nike, and Under Armor, the casual athlete can now track his or her exercise habits with microchips in shoes, shirts, and watches. At a weekly seminar sponsored by the McKay School’s Department of Instructional Psychology and technology, Victor Lee from Utah State University shared how athletic companies are helping K-12 students learn how to interpret quantifiable data.

Although physical activity data (PAD) devices are typically produced commercially for athletes, a research team at Utah State took these technologies into classrooms to teach students how to read and interpret graphs. Researchers encouraged educators to use PAD technology to stimulate young students’ physical and intellective activity.

The IP&T Department that trains instructional designers and technologists, invited Victor Lee, an assistant professor at Utah State University, to share his work with PAD devices in public school classrooms. “Technologies are increasingly playing a role in how we exercise and maintain our fitness, but little consideration is made for the potential learning opportunities,” Lee said. He and his team of researchers are currently investigating the merits of PAD technology with K-12 students.

Equipped with pedometers and heart monitors, students participated in several physical activities, after which Lee gathered the data from the PAD devices and plotted the students’ individual data on graphs. Students then had the opportunity to analyze and interpret their activity.

The research team held class discussions and observed as the students helped each other interpret the graphs while referencing the physical activities. The team theorized that the experiential activity would help the students consider quantifiable data from a new perspective, with an individual plot on a graph representing a point of time when the student exerted an inordinate amount of energy. Although students often struggle interpreting inanimate graphs, the personal experience made possible through PAD devices helped students understand difficult concepts such as outliers, mean, and median.

Pre- and post-tests were used to measure students’ ability to interpret graphs and data plots. After participating in the PAD activities, they were guided through teacher-led discussions to help students understand graphs. Post-test results showed a dramatic increase in the students’ comprehension many difficult concepts related to interpreting quantifiable data.

Lee hopes that schools will recognize the potential of PAD devices to help students engage in healthy physical activity and at the same time learn skills such as graph interpretation.

12 March 2012

Leave your response!

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

This is a Gravatar-enabled weblog. To get your own globally-recognized-avatar, please register at Gravatar.