Recess, Physical Education, and Elementary School Student Outcomes
Angela K. Dills
Hillary N. Morgan
Kurt W. Rotthoff
Seton Hall University - W. Paul Stillman School of Business
April 5, 2011
Economics of Education Review, Vol. 30, Issue 5
Today’s children experience a decreased amount of time at recess and fewer physical education (PE) classes throughout the school day. Breaks for physical activity limit class time for academics, potentially reducing learning. However, breaks may improve alertness and achievement. Using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey Kindergarten Class of 1998-1999, we evaluate how recess and PE in elementary school influence children’s learning. We find no statistically significant or economically significant impacts of weekly recess or PE time on student learning for kindergarteners through fifth graders. For example, in kindergarten, adding an hour a week of recess reduces the average test score gain in reading by a statistically insignificant 0.01 standard deviations. An additional 49 minutes per week of PE in kindergarten improves reading test score gains by a statistically insignificant 0.05 standard deviations. We find no statistical difference in the male and female students’ response to recess and PE. Evidence suggests that recess and PE do not harm student outcomes.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 33
Keywords: Recess, Physical Education, Education, Test Scores
JEL Classification: I21Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: September 17, 2010 ; Last revised: November 16, 2011
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