Education and lifelong learning

This page contains research in three broad areas:

  • The direct relationship between sports participation and school-based educational performance.
  • The indirect relationship between sports participation and school-based educational performance.
  • The role of sports volunteering in lifelong learning.

A life skills development programme for high school student athletes (US, 2004)

Authors

Petitpas, AJ; Van Raalte, JL; Cornelius, AE and Presbrey, J

Date

2004

Keywords

Sport; adolescents; academic performance; self-esteem.

Country of research

USA

Summary of findings

This provides a detailed description of the Play It Smart programme and an initial evaluation of the impact on 252 participants in the pilot in 4 high schools in inner city areas. The Play it Smart programme (funded by the National Football Foundation) is a sports-based programme specifically designed to meet the needs of American football players in disadvantaged communities and has three aims:

(i) to improve grade point averages and graduation rates;

(ii) to increase involvement in community service activities;

(iii) to improve knowledge and use of health enhancing behaviours.

It is a broad based community partnership, with the close involvement of parents and it adopts a needs-based student-centred approach. At its centre are specially trained 'academic-coaches' who emphasise the importance of process and learning experiences and build close academic/sporting relationships with participants. In addition to coaching football, these coaches provide many of the services typically seen in guidance or academic counselling programmes and seek to establish a positive 'gang' experience and foster close relationships with community organisations and parents.

The results of the two year pilot programme indicated that grade point averages increased from 2.16 to 2.54 (general school average: 2.25). SAT scores were 829.86 compared to 801.67 for the general school population, with a matriculation rate into higher education double that of the general school population.

The authors note that the absence of a control group limits their ability to attribute the results solely to the programme and admit that further evaluation is necessary, although it has now been extended to 88 high schools.

Methodology

Examination results

Source of reference

Journal of Primary Prevention, 2004, 24(3), 325-334

Web reference

http://www.kluweronline.com/issn/0278-095X/

A review of the impact of vigorous exercise on young people's behaviour and development (US, 2003)

Author

Tomporowski, PD

Date

2003

Keywords

Cognitive development, social behaviour, physical activity, exercise, children, adolescents.

Country of research

USA

Summary of findings

This article provides a review of the limited number of studies of the role of acute physical activity on children's and adolescent's behaviour and cognitive functioning.

Studies were drawn from literature that examines the effects of antecedent exercise on the behaviour and cognitive functioning of normal children and adolescents (e.g. in educational settings who are not characterised by any clinical disorders) and those with clinical disorders that are defined by problems of activity, attention and/or cognition.

The author suggests that, although there is an extensive, relatively positive, literature on adults, it cannot be assumed that this can be applied to young people. In relation to the limited number of studies of normal children in school the author concludes that they suggest that scheduled periods of physical activity not only do not interfere with later academic performance, in some situations they may lead to improved cognitive performance following periods of vigorous exercise. In relation to children with clinical disorders, the evidence is mixed.

This research indicates that exercise interventions are associated with reductions in disruptive behaviours and improvements in desirable behaviours and cognitive function. However, given the limited number of very small scale studies and the wide range of targeted behaviours such conclusions are tentative. Nevertheless, the general tentative conclusion is that physical activity exerts short-term positive changes in children's behaviour and cognitive performance.

The author concludes by stating that the effects of exercise are unlikely to be global and it appears to be effect specific aspects of information-selection and decision-making, but that this needs much more systematic and theoretically informed research.

Methodology

Literature review

Source of reference

Pediatric Exercise Science, 15, 348-359

Web reference

http://www.humankinetics.com/PES/journalAbout.cfm

Case study: do young people learn life skills through sport? (Canada, 2008)

Authors

Holt, NL; Tink, LN; Mandigo, JL and Fox, KR

Date

2008

Keywords

Personal development, life skills, boys, school sport, sport.

Country of research

Canada

Summary of findings

This article reports on a Canadian small scale qualitative investigation of the extent to which participants in a high school soccer team learned certain life skills (initiative, respect, teamwork). The data were collected from 12 male soccer players (average age: 17.1 years) from a variety of ethnic backgrounds and the head coach. An ethnographic approach was adopted, with 60 hours of observational data collected during a single season. This sought to explore issues of psychosocial processes, interpersonal interactions and behaviours among players and players, and players and coach. In addition formal interviews with players and coach were undertaken during a two week period at the end of the season. The data were used to explore the extent to which the three skills – initiative, respect and teamwork – were learned through soccer and transferred to other life domains.

Initiative

Three-quarters of the participants reported behaviours/attitudes that were consistent with the concept of initiative. However, the authors conclude that initiative was not learned directly from playing soccer and they were unable to establish how and where this had been learned (in fact it may have been a prerequisite for involvement in soccer at this level). They concluded that the coach created a structure for the display of such qualities rather then specifically teach them.

Respect

The authors define this as respect for societal and cultural norms. Although the participants talked about respect in relation to the sub-culture of soccer, the authors could find no examples of participants demonstrating respect in the context of broader society. They also found inconsistencies between the coach's emphasis on respect and his actual conduct. The authors could find no evidence that respect was directly taught or positively reinforced (although some were reprimanded for lack of respect in certain situations).

Teamwork/leadership

All participants reported that they had learned about teamwork and leadership through their involvement in the team and this was the only social skill that they thought transferred to other areas of their lives. However, this was not taught by the coach, but participants produced their own experiences of this.

More generally, although the group was multi-ethnic, the participants spoke about bridging individual differences rather ethnic or cultural differences. Therefore the authors found no evidence of that participants were directly taught life-skills, but that the structure created by the coach provided opportunities for the participants to demonstrate initiative; they were reprimanded for failing to demonstrate respect and they were producers of their own teamwork experiences.

The authors point to two possible limitations. Firstly, the respondents were a self-selected group of healthy youth who already had the resilience to achieve a place in the soccer team. Research on those who dropped out might illustrate different results. Secondly, the authors raised the possibility of a social desirability response bias, in which the respondents sought to portray a popular coach in a positive light.

Their general conclusion is that adolescent experiences and learning depend on how sports programmes are structured and delivered. They argue that if school sports programmes are truly designed as an extension of the classroom, then it seems that such programmes should embrace direct instruction and curricula designed to teach life skills.

Methodology

Ethnography, observation, interviews

Source of reference

Canadian Journal of Education, 31(2), 281-304

Web reference

http://www.csse.ca/CJE/General.htm

The effect of different levels of exercise on learning (Germany, 2007)

Authors

Winter, B; Breitenstein, C; Mooren, FC; Voelker, K; Fobker, M; Lechtermann, A; Krueger, K; Fromme, A; Korsukewitz, C; Floel, A and Knecht, S

Date

2007

Keywords

Cognitive development, cognition, exercise, males, adults.

Country of research

Germany

Summary of findings

This study reports on a randomised experiment to explore the relationship between various types of exercise and the immediate effects on cognition.

A total of 27 German male sports students (average age: 22) were allocated to each of the three exercise conditions on different days: relaxed, with 15 minutes being sedentary; moderate, with 40 minutes of low impact running at a fixed heart rate; intense, with two three minute sprints separated by a two minute break.  The two tests of cognition started 15 minutes after these interventions.

Firstly, in an exercise of associative learning participants were required to assess the extent to which a visually presented image and an auditory presented word were 'correct'.  Secondly, subjects' ability to translate novel words into German was examined via the same approach.  The transfer test was administered one week and eight months later to assess retention of the vocabulary.  Dependent variables were learning speed and immediate and longer term success in acquiring a novel vocabulary.

Peripheral levels of brain-derived neurothropic factor (BDNF) and catecholamines (dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine) were assessed prior to and after interventions as well as after learning.  Vocabulary learning was found to be 20 per cent faster after intense physical exercise compared to the other two conditions.

This condition also elicited the strongest increases in BDNF and catecholamine levels.  More sustained BDNF levels during learning after intense exercise were related to better short-term learning success, whereas absolute dopamine and epinephrine levels were related to better intermediate (dopamine) and long term (epinephrine) retention of the novel vocabulary.

Thus BDNF and two of the catecholamines seem to be mediators by which physical exercise improved learning.  However, the authors conclude that it remains to be determined in future studies whether short high impact and prolonged low impact exercise have comparable effects and are mediated by similar mechanisms.

Further, they admit that because of its pilot nature, the relatively small sample size and the moderate statistical power may explain why some of the reported effects were only marginally significant.

Methodology

Randomised experiment, cognition testing.

Source of reference

Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 87, 597-609

Web reference

http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/622924/description#description

Effectiveness of a sports-based programme to teach life skills (Greece, 2005)

Authors

Papacharisis, V; Goudas, M; Danish, SJ and Theodorakis, Y

Date

2005

Keywords

Sport; personal development; life skills; children; boys; girls

Country of research

Greece

Summary of findings

This paper reports on the findings of a before and after study to explore the effectiveness of a sports-based programme to teach

  1. Life skills
  2. Participants' self-assessment of their ability to use such skills and
  3. The performance of sports skills.

The study is based on two groups of 10 year olds with competitive sporting experience - 40 female volleyball players and 32 male soccer players. These two groups were randomly assigned to experimental and control groups. T

he experimental groups took part in 8 x 15 minute sessions which addressed issues of goal setting, problem solving and positive thinking, base on discussion groups, group learning and worksheets. Measuring instruments included multiple choice lists, self-belief scales and social desirability scales.

The authors regard the results as very encouraging and parallel findings from other related research. The experimental groups had greater knowledge of life-skills and higher self-beliefs about their abilities to goal-set, problem solve and think positively.

The authors conclude that when life skills are appropriately embedded in sports practice they are learned and not at the expense of sports skills. In fact the authors argue that young athletes can improve their sporting performance by applying the learned life skills. A major, admitted, limitation of the research is that it is based on self-report and there is a need for research into subsequent behaviours.

Methodology

Self-reporting

Source of reference

Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 17, 247-254

Web reference

http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/titles/10413200.asp

What adolescents say they learn in organised youth activities (US, 2003)

Authors

Hansen, DM; Larson, RW and Dworkin, JB

Date

2003

Keywords

Adolescents; sport; personal development; emotional well-being.

Country of research

United States of America

Summary of findings

This survey of 450 high school pupils in a small city sought to develop an inventory of the different types of types of developmental experiences that adolescents report across a range of organised youth activities - faith-based and service activities, performance and fine arts, community organisations and vocational clubs and sports.

These were compared with two other contexts - academic class and socialising with friends.  Six basic domains of learning experiences were used to explore each area - personal development (identity formation; initiative; emotional, cognitive and physical skills); interpersonal development (teamwork and social skills; networks, connections with adults); negative experiences.  The achieved sample was 56 percent female.  Analysis was centred on a randomly chosen participants' 'target activity'.

The results indicated that the pattern of experiences associated with sports was mixed and could be described under the heading of character building and character challenging.  Respondents reported frequent learning experiences related to personal development - self-knowledge, emotional regulation/control and physical skills.  However, although the majority were reporting on team sports, they did not indicate higher rates of learning experiences relating to teamwork and social skills and sports were low for learning prosocial norms.  Further, they reported the highest rates of negative peer interaction and inappropriate adult behaviour.

The authors conclude that competition may encourage the kind of self-examination needed to contribute to the team goal, but may also limit development of collaborative skills and expose youth to negative experiences that challenge their character.  The authors conclude that, because of the central importance of the coach, the modal pattern reported may not be an accurate representation of any particular sports programme.

Consequently, they suggest that there is a need for more research into how specific, controllable experiences of youth activity are related to positive developmental change.  The authors caution that the method used did not test whether learning actually occurred, only whether respondents reported such experiences.

Methodology

Self-completion survey

Source of reference

Journal of Research on Adolescence, 2003, 13(1), 25-55

Web reference

http://www.blackwellpublishers.co.uk/journal.asp?ref=1050-8392

Study of the effect of physical education on academic achievement (US, 2006)

Authors

Coe, DP; Pivarnik, JM; Womack, CJ and Reeves, MJ

Date

2006

Keywords

Academic performance; physical education; physical activity; children.

Country of research

United States of America

Summary of findings

This article reports on a study to explore the effect of physical education class enrolment and overall physical activity on academic achievement in middle school children over one academic year.

Participants were 214 sixth-grade students from a school in western Michigan.  For the purpose of the study volunteer students were randomly assigned to two groups – one which did daily PE (55minutes) for the first semester and a group which did this for the second semester.

Participants were assessed three times - at the beginning, middle and end of the academic year. Height and weight were measured and BMI calculated.  Habitual physical activity was estimated using recall of the previous three consecutive days and MET values estimated for activity intensity.  Academic achievement was based on individual grades in core classes (maths, science, English, world studies) and the System for Observing Fitness Instruction Time (SOFIT) was used to observe PE classes.  This observation found that only 19 minutes in a 55 minute physical education class were spent in moderate to vigorous physical activity.  The data indicate that enrolment in PE did not influence academic achievement.

The authors raise the relatively unexplored possibility of a 'threshold of physical activity' and suggest that a higher level of vigorous activity might be necessary to contribute to increased educational achievement.  In their study only, self-reported, out-of-school vigorous activity appeared to be correlated with higher educational achievement.

The fact that this was attained via sports participation leads the authors to speculate that sports participation may provide an adequate intensity level to meet the threshold necessary to see desirable effects of physical activity on fitness and academic achievement.  However, the authors concede that the key explanatory variable might be socio-economic status, for which they had no data (although the school had a higher average income than the school district).

Methodology

Self reporting; observation; academic grades.

Source of reference

Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise, 38(8), 1515-1519

Web reference

www.acsm-msse.org

Review of research on links between sport and academic performance (Hong Kong, 1999)

Authors

Lindner, KJ

Date

1999

Keywords

Academic performance; sport; children

Country of research

Hong Kong

Summary of findings

This article presents an overview of research on the relationship between sports participation and academic performance and concludes that most studies are limited by problems of interpretation and are unable to specify the nature of any relationship found and often offer speculative conclusions.

To explore the hypothesis that sports participation does not have negative effects on academic performance, the author surveyed 4,690 Hong Kong school children (P5 to S7) using a sports participation questionnaire and rating their own academic performance.

Results of analysis of variance indicated that frequency and extent of participation tended to be significantly higher for students with a high self-rating than for students with less satisfactory self-reported performance, and that this trend was significantly stronger in females than males and present in all age groups. The correlations between participation and academic performance were generally significant but low.

These results indicate that those who perceive themselves to be better achievers in academic subjects are as a group the most frequent participants, with stronger motives for involvement in sport and physical activity.

The author concludes that regular sports particpation does not threaten academic achievement.

Methodology

Literature review, survey data

Source of reference

Pediatric Exercise Science, 1999, 11, 129-143.

Effects of sport participation on academic achievement in the last two years of high school (Australia, 1993)

Authors

Marsh, HW

Date

1993

Keywords

Academic performance; school; sport; self-concept.

Country of research

Australia

Summary of findings

This article reports on a longitudinal study in the USA exploring the effects on academic achievement of sports participation during the last two years of high school.

The author provides a brief review of theoretical perspectives which seek to explain this potential relationship.  For example: increased interest in school, including academic pursuits; academic achievement to maintain eligibility to participate in sport; increased self-concept that generalises to academic achievement; increased attention from coaches, teachers and parents; membership of an elite group and orientation to academic success; expectations of participation in college sport. In particular the author emphasises the 'participation-identification' model in which participation in sport leads to increased identification with and investment in school and its values, but that such factors as physical, academic and social self-concepts are important.

The author also provides a review of empirical findings and notes that in many of the (mostly cross-sectional) studies the relationship between sports participation and academic success may have been mediated by a range of factors such as pre-existing differences, educational or occupational aspirations, parental influence.

The author concludes that in general there is no evidence that participation in sport has negative effects and there is modest support for positive effects. To explore these issues a sample of 4,000 was drawn from the National High School and Beyond survey.  Data from sophomore (second year) and senior years were used to compare sports participation, with outcome variables (standardised achievement tests, self-concept, absenteeism, getting into trouble, post secondary outcome) and background/demographic variables (e.g.  race, gender, socio-economic status;   school year size).

Participation in sport favourably affected (in order of size of effect) social self-concept, academic self-concept, educational aspirations two years after high school, attending university, educational aspirations in the senior year, being in the academic track, school attendance, and taking various types of academic courses.

Although the study is limited by lack of detail about the particular sports in which students participated, the extent of sports participation and the degree of sporting successes, the overall conclusion is that participation in sport has many (robust) positive effects, with no apparent negative effects.  Although, the biggest effect related to 'self-concept', this had little impact on educational achievement.

The author suggests that the relationship between sports participation and academic achievement is mediated by smaller effects on academic self-concept and educational aspirations (which were equally strong for males and females) and contends that this supports the participation-identification model in which participation in sport leads to an increased commitment to, involvement with, or identification with school and school values.

Methodology

Secondary sources

Source of reference

Sociology of Sport Journal, 10, 18-43

Web reference

http://www.humankinetics.com/SSJ/journalAbout.cfm

The effects of playing sport on growth and change during high school (US, 2003)

Authors

Marsh, HW and Kleitman, S

Date

2003

Keywords

Sports participation; academic performance; personal development.

Country of research

United States of America

Summary of findings

This research examined the effects of athletic participation (AP) on growth and change during high school, using a sample of 4,250 from the National Education Longitudinal Study data.

The authors outline widespread methodological problems in this area of research, including small sample sizes and self-selection and the problems of determining cause and effect. They suggest that their longitudinal approach provides a stronger basis for evaluating changes in outcomes as data were collected at four points over six years (including 2 years after graduating from high school).

The article provides a brief overview of previous relevant research and develops three theoretical perspectives to inform data analysis: the 'zero-sum model', which suggests that varying amounts of time devoted to academic, social and athletic activities are in competition with each other; the 'threshold model', which suggests that small to moderate amounts of AP have benefits, but that there are diminishing returns after a certain level of participation; the 'identification/ commitment model' which suggests that AP enhances identification with school, involvement and commitment in a way that enhances academic outcomes.

AP was measured by participation in intra- and extra-mural and in individual and team games. Regression analysis was used to investigate the effect of different PA scores on Grade 12 and post-secondary outcomes (controlling for pre-exisitng differences and background variables).

The results indicate that participation in high school sports had positive effects on many Grade 12 and post-secondary outcomes - school grades, coursework selection, homework, educational and occupational aspirations, self-esteem, university applications, subsequent college enrolment and eventual educational attainmment. In contrast to the 'zero-sum' and 'threshold models' these positive effects generalised across academic and non-academic outcomes, across the range of athletic participation levels and across different sub-groups of students (eg SES, gender, ethnicity, ability levels, educational aspirations). The results indicate that the positive effects of AP were almost completely linear. Sports participation is hypothesised to increase identification/commitment to school and school values which mediate the participation effects, particularly for narrowly defined academic outcomes not directly related to sports participation. Consistent with this identification/commitment model, extra-mural sport, and to a lesser degree team sport, had more positive effects than intra-mural and individual sports.

Methodology

Secondary analysis of longitudinal survey data

Source of reference

Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 25, 205-228

Effects of daily physical education on academic performance in primary school (France, Australia, Canada, 1997)

Authors

Shephard, RJ

Date

1997

Keywords

Academic performance; physical activity; physical education; achievement

Country of research

France, Australia, Canada

Summary of findings

The impact of daily physical education on the academic performance of primary school students is reviewed with reference to three longitudinal and one cross-sectional studies with control groups undertaken in France, Australia and Canada.

Although the author highlights methodological limitations in each of the studies, the overall conclusion is that when a substantial proportion of curricular time (14%-26%) is allocated  to physical activity, academic performance at least matches (and may even exceed) that of pupils not receiving the additional physical activity, with reports of reduced disruptive behaviour.

Possible explanations for these findings are explored, including limited acceleration of psychomotor development, teacher attitudes, student attitudes, increased self-esteem.

Methodology

Review article

Source of reference

Pediatric Exercise Science, 1997, 9, 113-126.

Evaluation of a national initiative to set up study support centres in sports venues (England, 2003)

Authors

Sharp, C; Blackmore, J; Kendall, L; Greene, K; Keys, W; Macauley, A; Schagen, I and Yeshanew, T

Date

2003

Keywords

Sport; academic performance; educational standards; underachievement; motivation

Country of research

England

Summary of findings

The four-year national initiative, aimed to contribute to raising educational standards by setting up Study Support Centres in professional football clubs and other sports venues, is evaluated. The initiative has proved very popular with all its client groups. Findings to support this include the high levels of attendance, pupils' enjoyment, parents' satisfaction, and the acknowledgement from parents and schools that the initiative has benefited pupils' learning and self-confidence.

Four years of national evaluation studies have shown significant improvement in pupils' literacy, numeracy and ICT. Comparisons with a national distribution of scores has shown that, on average, the pupils selected to attend were achieving at a very low level compared with national norms in literacy and numeracy. By the end of the course, pupils' scores had risen closer to national norms, in the case of numeracy scores pupils were achieving at just below the expected level for their age.

Comparisons with the control group have shown that gains were greatest for ICT and numeracy. In these two areas, pupils out-performed the control group to a statistically significant extent. In reading comprehension, pupils made progress during their time at the centres, but to a lesser extent.

Evidence from the evaluation suggests that the sporting connection is important in attracting pupils to want to take part as it adds to the excitement and interest of the initiative. Attending a sports venue means that pupils feel special and privileged to be chosen to participate, rather than stigmatised as in need of extra help. The programme has earned a national and international reputation for helping underachieving young people.

Methodology

Nationally standardised tests and questionnaire data

Source of reference

Sharp, C; Blackmore, J; Kendall, L; Greene, K; Keys, W; Macauley, A; Schagen, I and Yeshanew, T, Playing for success: an evaluation of the fourth year, National Foundation for Educational Research; 2003, Research report no 402, ISBN 1 84185 924 9.

Analysis of the links between fitness and exercise and cognitive functioning (US, 1997)

Authors

Etnier, JL; Salazar, W; Landers, DM; Petruzzello, SJ; Han, M and Nowell, P

Date

1997

Keywords

Cognitive development; physical activity; cognition

Country of research

United States of America

Summary of findings

Discusses several previous reviews of nearly 200 behavioural studies of the relationship between exercise or fitness level and cognitive functioning, which produced mixed and inconclusive results. A meta-analysis was also undertaken of 134 studies with sufficient information for the calculation of effect size.

Although both acute exercise and chronic training programmes had beneficial impacts on cognitive performance, the extent of the impact tended to be largest in the weakest research designs (cross-sectional or correlational) where the issue of pre-exercise cognitive differences could not be estimated and weakest in the most robust research designs (sedentary participants randomly allocated to treatment groups).

Further, any positive impacts appear not to be explained by physiological changes and may reflect physiological mechanisms independent of aerobic fitness; physiological mechanisms related to aerobic fitness, but occuring prior to changes in aerobic fitness; psychological mechanisms independent of aerobic fitness and exercise.

The overall conclusion is that the weakness of design of most studies has resulted in serious limitations with any conclusions regarding the relationship between exercise and cognition and have also resulted in ambiguity in terms of the nature of the relationship between exercise and cognition.

Methodology

Meta-analysis

Source of reference

Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 1997, 19, 249-277.

Teaching life skills through sport to young people at risk (US, 1997)

Authors

Danish, SJ and Nellen, VC

Date

1997

Keywords

Sport; life skills; children

Country of research

United States of America

Summary of findings

The article describes two sports-related programmes specifically designed to enhance life skills. It is argued that many life skills and sports skills (goal setting; communication, handling success and failure, benefiting from feedback) are similar, but that sport must be designed to develop such transferable skills. The Going for the Goal programme is a 10 hour, 10 session programme taught by selected and trained high school students to middle and junior school pupils.

The Sports United to Promote Education and Recreation (SUPER) programme (also taught by college-level student athletes) teaches specific sports skills, coaches students to improve sport performance and teaches life skills related to sport. Instructors are told to focus on how participants are participating rather than on how well they are performing.

Both programmes are predicated on the assumption that the sports skills can and do become used in other settings and that the life skills learned by extension also can and do become used in sport.

The roles played by sports psychologists and required training are outlined:

(i) Assist adolescents in setting and attaining goals. These goals should be task behaviours rather than outcome behaviours. Participants must be enabled to set goals for themselves - unimportant goals are rarely accomplished.

(ii) Identify and transfer physical and mental skills from one domain to another

(iii) Understand adolesence and the physical, affective and social/interpersonal changes taking place.

(iv) Design or redesign the life skills to be learned.

(v) Supervise and train peer leaders.

(vi) Develop counselling skills. Listening to and understanding the adolescent is vital.

The authors conclude that using sport to teach life skills is not the answer (nothing is). However, reaching adolescents where they are and want to be (on playgrounds and gymnasiums) and having peers they respect teach them how to suceed is one small, but important step.

Methodology

Programme evaluation

Source of reference

QUEST, 1997, 49, 100-113.

Physical education and academic achievement in early childhood (US, 2008)

Authors

Carlson, SA; Fulton, FE; Lee, SM; Maynard, LM; Brown, DR; Kohl, HW and Dietz, WH

Date

2008

Keywords

Academic performance, physical education, achievement, children.

Country of research

United States of America

Summary of findings

This reports on a longitudinal study examining the association between time spent in physical education and academic achievement in maths and reading in students from kindergarten to fifth grade.  Measurements were made via standardised tests at 5 points in time.

The study used data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998/1999.  This survey employed a multistage probability design to select a nationally representative sample and this analysis is based on a sample of 5,316 (52% girls).

Information about minutes per week spent in physical education was collected from classroom teachers and academic achievement was scored on an item response theory scale.  In terms of physical education the sample was grouped into low (0-35 minutes per week), medium (36-69 minutes) and high (70-300 minutes).  Via telephone interviews with parents, data were collected on family income, race/ethnicity and mother's education.

The findings indicted that girls with the highest exposure to physical education had a small academic benefit compared to girls with the least exposure.  There was no association for boys. The authors draw on other research to speculate that the small differential effect for girls may be because they obtain a higher increase in fitness levels than boys.  

The authors conclude that their work supports previous research which indicated that time spent in physical education did not harm academic achievement and it may have a modest favourable effect.  Among the limitations acknowledged by the researchers are: missing data for some members of the sample, no reliability or validity information on the questions used to assess time spent in physical education; no data regarding the quality of physical education or the nature of the curriculum.

Methodology

Survey data; examination results.

Source of reference

American Journal of Public Health, 98(4), 721-727

Web reference

http://www.ajph.org/

Review of evidence of the benefits of physical education in schools (US, 2006)

Authors

Bailey, R

Date

2006

Keywords

Cognitive development; personal development; physical development; physical health; physical education; sport; lifestyle; social behaviour

Country of research

United States of America

Summary of findings

This provides an overview of research evidence about the contributions and benefits of physical education and sport in schools for both children and for educational systems.  Evidence is presented for five developmental domains – physical, lifestyle, affective, social and cognitive.

The author presents evidence to argue that PE and sport have the potential to make significant and distinctive contributions to development.  They have the potential to contribute to the development of children's fundamental movement skills and physical competences, necessary precursors of participation in later lifestyle and sporting activities.  They also, when appropriately presented, can support the development of social skills and behaviours, self-esteem and pro-school attitudes and, in certain, circumstances, academic and cognitive development.  Importantly, the review stresses that many of these potential benefits may not necessarily result from participation per se. 

The author suggests that the effects will be mediated by the nature of the interactions between students and their teachers, parents and coaches.  Contexts that emphasise positive experiences, characterised by enjoyment, diversity and the engagement of all and that are managed by committed and trained teachers and coaches and supportive and informed parents  significantly influence the character of the physical activities and increase the likelihood of realising the potential benefits of participation.

Methodology

Review of literature

Source of reference

Journal of School Health, 76(8), 397-401

Web reference

http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/journal.asp?ref=0022-4391

Effects of health-related physical education on academic achievement (US, 1999)

Authors

Sallis, JF; McKenzie, TL; Kolody, B; Lewis, M; Marshall, S and Rosengard, P

Date

1999

Keywords

Academic performance; physical education; achievement; children

Country of research

United States of America

Summary of findings

Reports the effects of a two year health-related school physical education programme on standardised academic achievement scores for 754 fourth, fifth and sixth grade children.

Seven schools in a single school district in Southern California were randomly assigned to three groups:

(i) certified PE specialists taught the Sports, Play and Active Recreation for Kids (SPARKS) curriculum, which is a 3 days per week programme including physical activity, self-management skills and parental involvement;

(ii) classroom teachers were trained to implement the curriculum;

(iii) controls continued their usual programme. All children were pre and post-tested on nationally accepted achievement tests (reading, mathematics, language and a composite score).

Although there was no convincing evidence that the specialist condition had favourable effects on academic performance, this study confirms other findings that spending more time in physical education did not have harmful effects on academic achievement. As all post-test scores decreased, the decline cannot be due to the physical education programme. Consequently, devoting substantially increased school time to health-related physical education does not have a detrimental effect on students' academic performance and confers physical and mental health benefits to students.

Methodology

National achievement tests data

Source of reference

Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 1999, 70, (2), 127-134.

Review of research on engaging disaffected young people through physical activity (UK, 2006)

Authors

Sandford, RA; Armour, KM and Warmington, PC

Date

2006

Keywords

Personal development; sport; physical activity; physical education; social behaviour; community.

Country of research

United Kingdom

Summary of findings

This review article outlines current policy concern with issues of disaffected school pupils and at-risk young people, how such issues have been defined, the role allocated to physical activity and sport within these policies and the variety of assumptions underpinning these policies.

The authors note the lack of systematic research and credible, rigorous and longitudinal monitoring and evaluation of such interventions. They then provide a relatively comprehensive review of the state of current research and theory and derive a series of key points which need to be taken into consideration in the design and implementation of sports interventions with disaffected young people. 

These are as follows: 

(i) Re-evaluate current practice. The authors suggest that there is a need to develop a sporting curriculum which has greater cultural relevance for young people, use different forms of appraisal and assessment, employ varying teaching methods and be more reflective and innovative. 

(ii) Recognise that the social relationships (and type of leadership) experienced during involvement in sport and physical activity programmes are the most significant factor in effecting behavioural change. 

(iii) The need to engender a sense of community and belonging among individuals is a significant element and this can best be achieved via small programmes which last several years, which involve participants in decision-making and afford them\ respect so often lacking in their interactions with adults. 

(iv) A multi-agency approach is essential, with sport only one element of any intervention approach. Programmes must take account of all aspects of young people's lives and social experiences. 

(v) There is a need to teach explicitly the desired social skills as they cannot be assumed to be an inevitable outcome. Also there is a need for programmes to be sustained over time and to provide structure and encourage long-term commitment (too many programmes are short-term). 

(vi) There is an urgent need to incorporate credible monitoring and evaluation. 

Their overall conclusion is that although sport and physical activity programmes have can address issues relating to disaffected youth the effects are both situation and context specific and the impact of programmes are likely to be highly individualised.  Consequently the more that programmes can be designed around personalised learning the more likely that they will succeed.

Methodology

Review of literature

Source of reference

British Educational Research Journal, 32(2), 251-271

Web reference

http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/

Analysis of 44 studies on links between physical activity and cognition in children (US, 2003)

Authors

Sibley, BA and Etnier, JL

Date

2003

Keywords

Education and lifelong learning; cognitive development; physical activity; cognition; children.

Country of research

United States of America

Summary of findings

The purpose of this study was to quantitatively combine and examine the results of 44 studies pertaining to physical activity and cognition in children.

Studies were grouped according to design/methodological rigour, health status and age of subjects, activity characteristics and cognitive assessment (eg perceptual skills, IQ, verbal tests, maths tests, memory). 

The analysis identified a significant overall positive association between physical activity and cognition.  The fact that the type of  activity was a non-significant moderator is taken to indicate  that  psychological mechanisms may be a key to explaining psychological gains.  The most significant variables were the age of students, the status of the publications included and cognitive assessments. 

The analysis indicated that physical activity had the greatest impact on the cognition of elementary and middle school students.  The fact that positive relationships were identified in both published and unpublished studies is taken to indicate an overall consistency and reasonable robustness. 

With regard to cognitive assessment the authors argue that the findings tend to refute the argument that PE should be cut to increase academic productivity, with PE able to contribute positively to measures of IQ and academic achievement (although findings are inconsistent and based on a variety of different measures). 

The authors recommend that more statistically powerful intervention studies are needed to establish the extent to which a causal relation between physical activity and improved cognition in children exists.

Methodology

Meta-analysis

Source of reference

Pediatric Exercise Science, 15, 243-256

Web reference

http://www.humankinetics.com/PES/journalAbout.cfm

The relationship between PE curriculum time, literacy and numeracy (Australia, 2006)

Authors

Dollman, J; Boshoff, K and Dodd, G

Date

2006

Keywords

Academic performance; physical education.

Country of research

Australia

Summary of findings

Via a postal survey this study investigated the relationships between PE curriculum time and standards of literacy and numeracy in 117 South Australian primary schools. 

Information was collected about time total time spent in PE; a range of school characteristics (e.g. location; staff gender and age profile; proportion of staff with formal PE training) and the percentage of children receiving government assistance to attend school (a surrogate for socio-economic status), proportion of non-English speakers and academic achievement (State Literacy and Numeracy Test). School averages were calculated for both time allocated to PE and literacy and numeracy. 

Regression modelling found that time spent on PE was unrelated to State scores (after controlling for the various school-related factors).  There was a strong positive relationship between socio-economic status and academic achievement, while a higher proportion of younger staff predicted lower academic attainment. 

Although the study cannot provide evidence for the view that PE enhances cognitive ability and attainment in core academic competencies, the authors conclude that there is no evidence that schools with relatively high time spent on PE are disadvantaging students in terms of the basic academic abilities of numeracy and literacy.

Methodology

Survey

Source of reference

European Physical Education Review, 12(2), 151-163.

Web reference

www.sagepublications.com

Learning and job satisfaction among Olympic volunteers (Australia, 2002)

Authors

Kemp, S

Date

2002

Keywords

Volunteering; major events; personal development.

Country of research

Australia

Summary of findings

This survey of 200 volunteers at each of the Lillehammer Winter Olympics (mostly students) and the Sydney Olympics (both students and those aged 45 and over) explored their demographic characteristics and motivations and compared their perception of learning and job satisfaction.  The results are analysed within the perspective of human resource management. 

The key issues explored were: the nature of 'learning by doing'; the development of social skills; developing knowledge about society; job-specific skills; volunteer satisfaction.

The results indicate that high proportions of students at both games perceived that they had developed  social skills, improved their knowledge of society, established  contacts for future jobs and increased job skills.  Older volunteers were more likely to  focus on function-specific and service skills and using existing skills in a new environment, which built confidence and self-esteem (this was especially so for women who had left employment to raise children).  Job satisfaction was based on many of the general elements known to be important (relationships, supervision, autonomy), but most importantly being part of a unique event.

The authors conclude that there is a need to explore the gender and age-related differences in the importance of different motivational factors and a greater understanding of the human resource management issues relating to events.

Methodology

Self-completion survey

Source of reference

Journal of European Industrial Training, 2002, 26/2/3/4, 109-116

Web reference

www.emeraldinsight.com/0309-0590.htm

Life skills through team sports (Greece, 2007)

Authors

Goudas, M and Giannoudis, G

Date

2007

Keywords

Sport, physical education, personal development, life skills

Country of research

Greece

Summary of findings

This Greek before-and-after study used an experimental and a control group to explore the effectiveness of a team-sport-based life skills programme in developing goal setting, positive thinking and problem solving.  The article provides a short review of literature and research relating to the potential of sport to develop a range of life skills (e.g. problem solving; performing under pressure; goal setting; communication).  They provide several examples of positive outcomes of specially developed physical education and sports-based programmes.

The programme was based on an abbreviated version of Sports United to Promote Education and Recreation (SUPER), which is a type of sports clinic with participants involved in three activities: learning sports-specific physical skills; learning life skills related to sport in general; playing the sport.  Seventeen one hour sessions were provided based on basketball and volleyball.

Participants were selected from two elementary schools (n: 86; aged 12) and two junior high schools (n: 79; aged 14) and in each an experimental group was allocated to the SUPER programme with the rest acting as a control group.  Sample decay meant that the analysis is based on 130 participants (experimental: 69; control: 61).  The sports practice sessions were the same for experimental and control groups.  The experimental group also had 10 minute life-skill lectures and exercises covering goal setting, problem solving and positive thinking and were provided with a workbook.

Before-and-after measures were taken for three broad dimensions – sports skills, knowledge of how to set goals, think positively, solve problems and self-about ability do achieve the later tasks.  The authors argue that their three hypotheses were verified.  Firstly life-skills training resulted in an improvement in sports skills relative to the control group.  Secondly, students who revived the programme gained knowledge about life skills.  However, their self-beliefs about applying these skills were not altered significantly.  The authors suggest that this may have been a function of pre-programme scores already being high and the fact that the number of skills being taught reduced the effectiveness of learning.

Although the transfer of skills to other domains was not examined, the authors conclude that the study supported the effectiveness of a life skills programme that integrated sport- and life-skills training.  They argue that students who participate in such programmes can improve their sport skills and the inclusion of life-skills raining in practice may serve as an effective model for learning life skills.

Methodology

Programme evaluation, field-based experiment.

Source of reference

Learning and Instruction, 18, 528-536

Web reference

http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/956/description#description

Moral attitudes and sport – a study of teenage boys (France, 2008)

Authors

Long, T; Pantaleon, N and Bruant, G

Date

2008

Keywords

Sport, adolescents, males, social behaviour, personal development.

Country of research

France

Summary of findings

This French in-depth interview study of 36 male teenagers (aged 15-18) explores the differing representations of moral responsibility among participants in institutionally organised and self-organised games of soccer and basketball. 

The authors use a review of literature to question the traditional assumptions that institutional sport develops a respect for law and sense of responsibility and that self-organised sport tends to convey negative attitudes. 

They suggest that institutional sport with its inflexible rules and external regulation can produce moral disengagement and displaced responsibility, with others being blamed for their actions (including rule breaking). 

Conversely the authors suggest that the forms of citizenship and sociability developed in self-organised sport are not inferior and propose that sports psychologists have stressed the importance of self-organisation in moral development.  As a consequence of existing theory and research the authors suggest that greater attention needs to be given to context and process. 

The authors outline two approaches to assessing responsibility – retrospective/retrospective responsibility for an actor's action and responsibility to others, either via contract or empathy. 

Reviewing the research on sport and the development of social responsibility the authors conclude that

(i) few studies have investigated responsibility and sports practice;

(ii) these studies did not move from a philosophical or theoretical framework to a stage of empirical analysis;

(iii) they gave little attention to the actors' views.

Therefore the research sought to analyse the relationship between context (institutionalised or self-regulated) and participants' concept of responsibility.  Interviews were undertaken with 18 from each group and the samples were equivalent on social, economic and cultural backgrounds.  The interviews explored players' perceptions of what constitutes a responsible player and behaviour and their attitudes to referees and rules.

Their conclusions are as follows:

(i) Institutionalised players had functional, retroactive (defending) and contractual conception of responsibility.  The function of the behaviour justified the action and the over-reliance on rules and regulation means that young people do not use reflexive reasoning in relation to their own behaviour.  The authors explain this finding by the rigid characteristics of their competitive context and practice which is based on task division and performance pressure.

(ii) Self-organised players described responsibility as personal and moral.

This is explained by an open context of practice based on interaction and pursuit of pleasure.  The self-regulation of activities implies a reflexive and moral commitment for the game to be possible.

However, the authors point to a number of limitations. 

Firstly, they only deal with the sporting elements of participants' socialisation and there is a need to move beyond this to consider influences of family and education. 

Secondly, there is need for research to explore the extent to which the sports-related concepts of responsibility have an impact on wider behaviour. 

Thirdly, the sample was male and does not take into account possible gender differences.  Nevertheless the authors argue that their findings suggest that sports policy should rely more on self-organised activities to enhance young people's autonomy and responsibility rather than traditional and competitive sports. 

They finish by outlining some alternative strategies for sport and PE, which start with the desired moral development outcomes and develop more appropriate activities.

Methodology

Literature review, interviews.

Source of reference

Journal of Moral Education, 37(4), 519-538

Web reference

http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/carfax/03057240.html

Sports team participation and academic outcomes (US, 2010)

Authors

Fox, CK; Barr-Anderson, D; Neumark-Sztainer, D and Wall, M

Date

2010

Keywords

Sport; physical activity; sports participation; academic performance, boys, girls.

Country of research

United States of America

Summary of findings

Despite research which indicates that regular physical activity is associated with improved academic outcomes the authors of this US study argue that it remains uncertain whether such improvements relate to the general benefits of physical activity or to the specific benefits of participating on an athletics team.  This study explores the following issues: (i) what is the relationship between sports team participation and academic performance controlling for sociodemographic variables; (ii) what is the relationship between current recommendations for physical activity and academic performance?; (iii) to what extent do sports team participation and physical activity each independently relate to academic performance?

These issues were explored via a sample of 4,746 ethnically and socially diverse middle and high school students from 31 schools (mean age: 14.9 - equal proportions of males and females).  The data were derived from the Eating among Teens (EAT) survey in which data were collected on socio-economic status, sports team participation, physical activity (using the Leisure Time Exercise Questionnaire: vigorous, moderate and mild levels) and self-reported academic grades (GPA).

The various forms of statistical analysis indicated that for middle school boys and high school boys and girls, sports team participation was associated with higher GPA.  Also, performing more hours of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) was associated with higher GPA for all.

Analysis of the independent associations between GPA and sports team participation and MVPA indicated that for high schools girls both were independently associated with a higher GPA.  However, for high school boys only sports team participation was associated with a higher GPA. For middle school students there was no clear separation between higher GPA and sports team participation and MVPA.

The authors suggest that the inter-research variability in the relationship between sports team participation and academic outcomes might be explained by such factors as: academic eligibility requirements for participation; variations in the availability of academic tutoring for student athletes, differences in social norms regarding the importance of academic achievement across sports and variations in physical activity required by different sports.

The findings in this study of a significant linear trend between performing more hours of MVPA and a higher GPA are consistent with many previous studies. However, sports team participation is an important confounder, with only high school girls showing a positive relationship between hours performing MVPA and GPA, when adjustment was made for sports team participation.  The authors state that the lack of precision in the physical activity measure was a limitation and a more objective measure of exertion might provide better insight into the effects of physical activity on academic achievement.  Also the cross-sectional approach means that causality could not be determined.

The authors conclude that the association between physical activity and academic performance is complex and that more research is required to address the nature of the 'academic culture' of students who participate in sports teams and how this contributes to academic success.

Methodology

Survey data

Source of reference

Journal of School Health, 80(1), 31-37

Web reference

http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/journal.asp?ref=0022-4391

Effects of school martial arts training on attitudes and behaviour (US, 2004)

Authors

Lakes, KD and Hoyt, WT

Date

2004

Keywords

Personal development; academic performance; cognitive development; behaviour; school, boys; girls.

Country of research

United States of America

Summary of findings

This article reports on a comparative before-and-after study of two groups of children (n: 193; kindergarten to Grade 5) taking part in a 26 x 45 minute sessions of martial arts training (Leadership Education Through Athletic Development (LEAD)) and a traditional physical education class. 

The research sought to test the following hypotheses:

(a) LEAD participants would demonstrate enhanced self-regulation in the physical, affective, and cognitive domains in response to a physical challenge relative to participants in the comparison group;

(b) LEAD participants would exhibit enhanced self-confidence relative to comparison group participants;

(c) LEAD participants would demonstrate amelioration of hyperactivity/inattention symptoms and other negative behavioural/interpersonal symptoms relative to participants in the comparison group;

(d) LEAD participants would demonstrate greater improvement in self-regulation than comparison group participants when faced with a cognitive challenge; and

(e) LEAD participants would show increased social responsibility when compared to the comparison group participants. Gender differences were also explored.

The data were collected via observation by trained evaluators and various evaluation and rating instruments completed by academic classroom teachers and participants.

The article reports on a variety of statistical analyses and reports the following:  LEAD participants made greater gains in all three areas of self-regulation, especially cognitive and affective self-regulation. Significant relative gains were also observed for LEAD participants' prosocial behaviour.

The differences in reduction of conduct problems and in attention scores on an intellectually challenging (maths) task suggested that the LEAD programme might influence behaviours in these domains. Although non-significant because of the smaller sub-sample size, the findings suggest the possibility of gains in self-esteem among the fourth and fifth grade LEAD participants.

Favourable effects on participant self-regulation were observed in a variety of contexts (physical tasks, intellectual tasks, and social settings) using measures from multiple sources (self-ratings, teacher ratings, task performance, and behavioural observations).

Both sexes in the LEAD group showed benefits relative to the comparison group, although the effects for boys were numerically larger – especially observer-rated cognitive factors (e.g. focus, concentration, and attention) and teacher-rated conduct factors (e.g. obedience to adults, aggression toward other children, and anger).

These differences are partly explained by pre-test differences in which girls recorded lower levels of problem behaviour. Other possible explanations include:

(a) differential reactions to martial arts training,

(b) differential reactions to the (male) instructor, and

(c) differential reactions to co-ed classes. Participation in the LEAD programme had its strongest effects on the older participants.

Although the authors caution against the dangers of over-generalisation – all programmes are different – they suggest that the measured differences are to be explained by the strong mastery orientation and emphasis on self-regulation and self-analysis in martial arts.

Methodology

Pre- post-intervention study.

Source of reference

Applied Developmental Psychology, 25, 283-302.

Web reference

 http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/620199/description#description

The impact of out-of-school sports on academic performance (US, 2007)

Authors

Lipscomb, S

Date

2007

Keywords

Academic performance;

Country of research

United States of America

Summary of findings

This US article investigates the extent to which participation in extracurricular clubs and sports impacts on secondary school tests scores in maths and science and student-reported educational expectations.  The analysis is undertaken on longitudinal data from a sample of 16,305 students in the National Educational Longitudinal Study (1988, 1990 and 1992).  The author argues that this research differs from previous research, in which the direction of participation effects is theoretically uncertain, in two ways.  Firstly, he examines how participation influences labour market variables through its effect on learning.  Secondly, he uses a fixed-effects estimation strategy which isolates important self-selection factors such as ability, background and general motivation.  The source of identification comes from respondents who join or quit clubs or sports in a given year, permitting an analysis of the change in academic performance associated with an additional year of activity participation.

Sport and club participation is indicated by membership during the twelve months prior to each survey date.  Men were more likely to take part in athletics and women in clubs and the participation rates for white students is greater for each activity in all years.  Controls are applied for divorced or deceased parents, socio-economic status, urban community and private schools, enrolment truancy, self-esteem, involvement in homework, television watching and intensity of job commitments.

The data demonstrate that there is a strong relationship between levels of achievement and involvement in activities.  The group which always participated (i.e. in all three waves) scored between 14 and 22 percentiles higher than the no participation group.  Sport participation is associated with a 1.1 percentile increase in tests scores (i.e. a 2.2% increase).  Club involvement had a smaller impact and is only significant for maths.  When controls were added for socioeconomic status, parental divorce and death, and school-level characteristics, there was virtually no change.  The inclusion of self-esteem, variables relating to the intensity of other time commitments and truancy did little to attenuate the participation coefficients.  Sports participation was still associated with a 2 per cent increase in maths and science test scores.  Although the club participation coefficient was reduced the estimate remained significant and implied a 1.5 per cent increase in maths test performance.  In terms of Bachelor's degree attainment expectations both forms of participation are associated with a 3 to 3.5 percentage point increase.  Also the estimates remain strong even when test scores are controlled for.  Students involved in both activity types increase their expectations by almost 10 per cent.  Except for science, the data indicate that sport or club participation has similar effects for male and female and white and non-white.  However, sports participation benefits women more than men.

Finally, participating in clubs with higher achieving members is associated with increased degree attainment expectations.  In contrast joining clubs with members who do not score as highly does not appear to help student learning.  The author concludes that the results indicate that overall participation is associated with a 1.5 to 2 per cent improvement in test scores and a 5 per cent improvement is bachelor's degree attainment expectations.  The author concludes that there is need for additional research to obtain a better understanding of the mechanisms through which participation affects learning.

Methodology

Longitudinal survey data

Source of reference

Economics of Education Review, 26(4) 463–472

Web reference

http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/743/description#description

Economic analysis of the link between playing sport and academic qualifications (Germany, 2009)

Authors

Pfeifer, C and Cornelisen, T

Date

2009

Keywords

Sports participation; academic performance.

Country of research

Germany

Summary of findings

This is a German economic analysis of the relationship between participation in sport and educational productivity (secondary school and vocational degrees).  The authors question the simple allocation of time model in which time devoted to sport simply reduces time allocated to studying.  They propose the possibility that sports participation reduces the time spend on 'bad' activities, producing indirect positive effects on educational productivity.  There may also be direct positive effects of sports participation on educational productivity via better health, soft skills (leadership, team work), and behavioural traits (discipline, perseverance). They also speculate that the rate of return to sports might be larger for women than men because sports might enhance competitiveness and self-esteem in females.

Data from the annual German socio-economic panel (GSOEP) was analysed using retrospective data about adolescents' outside-school sports participation, with a sample of 3,100 females and 2,950 males recruited to the survey between 2000 and 2005.  The analysis controlled for the educational qualifications and job of parents, how strong parents cared about child's school performance, and the proportion of foreigners in their classrooms.  However the authors admit that they cannot exclude the influence of students' ability, parents' values with respect to performance, and the type of school.

Although controlling for certain variables reduces by half  the estimated marginal effects of sport on educational performance (especially age and parents' school degree), the  overall conclusions are that participation of German adolescents in outside-school sporting activities has significant positive effects on educational attainment.  However, the results also illustrate that taking part in more time- consuming sports competitions might offset, but not reverse, the beneficial effects of sports on the highest degrees.  The data also indicate that the positive effects are generally larger for women than men.

Methodology

Secondary analysis; survey data.

Source of reference

Economics of Education Review, 29, 94-103

Web reference

http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/743/description#description

Effects of sport on personal development of young people from deprived backgrounds (US, 2012)

Authors

Gould, D; Flett, R and Lauer, L

Date

2012

Keywords

Personal development; sport; youth; sports participation; motivation.

Country of research

 United States of America

Summary of findings

This USA study was designed to assess developmental outcomes which 239 'under-served' youth report from their participation in Think Detroit baseball and softball leagues.  It also sought to identify their perceptions of the sports climate their coaches create and to measure the relationships between participants' reported gains and perceptions of the psychosocial sports climate.  The article offers a brief literature review of work which emphasises the importance of social relationships, the role of the coach, the motivational and caring climates and an emphasis on mastery goals.

These issues were explored in a sample of 239 participants: 64% male and 36% female; mean age 14.51; Black 72.2%, Hispanic 11.8%, 'other' 10.5%, White 4.6%.  Based on their schools the average likelihood that they were eligible for federally funded free and reduced lunch for children below the poverty level was approximately 52%.  The participants completed questionnaires containing the Youth Experiences Scale, Sport Motivational Climate Scale for youth sports, Caring Climate Scale and measures of the importance that their coaches placed on life skills.

The data indicated that the respondents most often perceived teamwork and social skills, physical skills development and initiative as the benefits they most often derived from their sports experience.  Participants most often perceived that a mastery climate was created and that overall the climate was a caring one.  This reflected the leagues' focus on achieving positive youth development.  The data indicated that the more coaches create caring, mastery-oriented environments the more likely there were to be positive developmental gains – where an ego climate was perceived there were more negative outcomes (although this was not consistent).  The authors suggest that the results indicate that positive coaching in mastery and caring climate has a positive influence on life skills experiences of youth, and negative coaching in the form of creating an ego-oriented climate has a predominantly negative influence.  Although climate predicts youth sport experiences more robustly than demographic factors boys described more negative experiences than girls.

The authors admit a number of limitations: only youth from summer baseball and softball programs were surveyed, limiting generalisability; youth perceptions of coach behaviour observational measures proved unsuccessful because of psychometric issues with scale reliabilities, leading to an over-reliance on self-report; the results are non-causal and only provide a glimpse into the relationship between the youth sports coaching environment and the development of life skills. Intervention studies and studies using longitudinal are needed.

However, the authors conclude that if coaches want to have a positive impact, ego orientation must be minimised in favour of mastery settings and a caring climate should be developed.  Coaches must learn how to translate their competitive objectives into process goals that emphasise personal development in athletes.  Relationship building is a crucial factor in fostering a sense of caring and support.

Methodology

Self-completion survey

Source of reference

Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 13(1), 80–87

Web reference

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1469029211001014