Frontiers in Human Neuroscience published research on math, movement and motor skills. The participants included 165 children, average age 7.5 years old, who were randomized into three groups for 6 weeks of mathematical instruction: a non motor group, a fine motor math group and a gross motor math group. The gross motor group performed inter-limb gross motor movements that alternated between dynamic and static movements and involved a large range of movement (e.g., skipping, crawling, hopscotching, throwing, one-legged balance) while solving mathematical problems throughout all lessons. The fine motor group manipulated LEGO® bricks supporting the mathematical principles. Each child completed a standardized mathematical test before, immediately after and 8 weeks after the intervention. In addition, the researchers examined whether motor-enriched math was accompanied by different effects in low and normal math performers and the potential contribution of cognitive functions and motor skills on mathematical performance.
The results indicated the following:
- all groups improved their mathematical performance on test scores before and immediately after.
- improvement on test scores was significantly greater in the gross motor group compared to the fine motor group
- no significant differences in mathematical performance were observed 8 weeks following the intervention.
- normal math-performers benefited from gross motor math compared to both the control group and the fine motor group although these effects were not observed in low math-performers. The effects were partly accounted for by visuo-spatial short-term memory and gross motor skills.
The researchers concluded that motor enriched learning activities (particularly gross motor math instruction) can improve mathematical performance.
Reference: Beck, M. M., Lind, R. R., Geertsen, S. S., Ritz, C., Lundbye-Jensen, J., & Wienecke, J. (2016). Motor-Enriched Learning Activities Can Improve Mathematical Performance in Preadolescent Children. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 10.
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