Brain gym

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Effects of Educational Kinesiology, Previous Performance, Gender, and Socioeconomic Status on Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening Scores of Kindergarten Students

Sandra Harmon Witcher

Dissertation submitted to the Faculty of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of

Doctor of Education in EducationalLeadership and Policy Studies

David J. Parks, Chairman Christina M. Dawson Travis Twiford Patricia P. Kelly Jeanne Edwards

March 27, 2001 Blacksburg, Virginia Key Words: Kinesiology, Reading, Elementary

Effects of Educational Kinesiology, Previous Performance, Gender, and Socioeconomic Status on Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening Scores of Kindergarten Students

Sandra Harmon Witcher(ABSTRACT)

Practitioners are obligated to identify cost-effective, worthwhile practices for improving student learning. With the current climate of pressure to quickly improve student performance on the Virginia Standards of Learning assessments, the use of Brain Gym® is an idea that has begun to pique the interest of teachers as an innovative instructional strategy. The value in conductingthis research was to attempt to objectively analyze whether the use of this specific activity-based intervention in an educational setting affects children’s skill acquisition. Intact kindergarten classes from two relatively matched schools within the same southeastern Virginia school division were randomly assigned to the treatment and control groups. A total of 126 kindergarten students in eightclasses were involved. All of the classes were administered the Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening test in October as part of the system-wide pre-assessment of kindergarten students. In addition to regular instruction, the treatment group then followed a prescribed set of six Brain Gym® exercises for 8-10 minutes twice each school day until the PALS posttest was given in late spring. Theclassroom teachers received in-service training from the researcher to enable them to lead the treatment group in the daily performance of the Brain Gym® exercises. The treatment began after the completion of PALS pre-testing. The control group received regular instruction and did not participate in any Brain Gym® exercises. Following a t-test for differences in previous performance, a four-wayanalysis of variance was performed on the total PALS scores. Using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences and a predetermined alpha level of .05, the four-way ANOVA yielded a significant main effect for previous performance and non-significant main effects for Brain Gym® participation, socioeconomic status, and gender. A significant interaction effect was found only among Brain Gym®participation, socioeconomic status, and gender. The data were examined another way using a three-way analysis of covariance. After adjusting for previous performance, no significant main effects or interaction effects were found across the variables.

DEDICATION

To my husband, Rick. Thank you for the strong support of your love and faith in me!

iii

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Thanks to Dr. Dave Parksfor agreeing to serve as my committee chairman and allowing me to learn the lessons of “the process” in my own time. I appreciate your unwavering guidance and support. Thanks to my other committee members, Dr. Tina Dawson, Dr. Pat Kelly, Dr. Travis Twiford, and Dr. Jeanne Edwards for their openmindedness, words of encouragement, and editing suggestions. Special thanks go to Dr. Travis Twiford andDr. Mary Yakimowski for helping me over my last few hurdles. Thanks to Beth Gallup for sharing her computer expertise and to Paulette Gardner for keeping the whole cohort straight! Thanks to Dr. Milton Liverman for permission to conduct the study and for the insights and advice from one whose “been there.” Thanks to Joyce Trump, Janice Holland, Jackie Marshall, and Dr. Lynn Cross for keeping a...
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