Date of Award

Winter 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Curriculum, Instruction, and Leadership

First Advisor

Pauline Leonard


There is a critical need to improve students' reading and comprehending ability. In 2011, Louisiana's students scored well below the national average in reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Research suggests there is a connection between physical activity and students' ability to focus and comprehend during reading class, therefore improving reading comprehension. However, many school districts are cutting back physical activity time in favor of more academic time.

The purpose of this 12-week study was to examine the effect of physical activity on fourth-grade students' achievement in reading. A quasi-experimental design was used to study 108 fourth-grade students at one elementary school. The experimental group received 15 minutes of physical activity each day prior to reading class, while the control group had a story read to them.

This study found the experimental group's combined total comprehension and vocabulary posttest mean scores improved 15.36% over the pretest, while the control group's posttest mean scores improved 3.12% over the pretest. The experimental group's pretest and posttest comprehension mean score difference was statistically significant with a 19.34% increase, while the control group had a -3.95% decrease. Therefore, the main conclusion drawn from this study was that when physical activity occurs prior to fourth-grade students' reading class, it does have a significant effect on students' ability to comprehend. However, the difference between the vocabulary pretest and posttest mean scores did not indicate that physical activity had an effect on the students' vocabulary, which indicated students may need more explicit instruction with new or unfamiliar words. Furthermore, there was no difference in students' daily attendance, which suggested physical activity had no impact on motivating students to attend class more frequently.

This research argues for the use of physical activity before reading class. Therefore, it is recommended to study physical activity with additional subjects such as mathematics, science, and social studies, all of which may provide a deeper understanding of the effects physical activity can have on students' academic success. In addition, using more than one elementary school and lengthening the duration of the study may impact the outcome, as well.