Moving bodies, moving minds: a case study exploring teaching and learning in a moving classroom




Williams, Mary L.


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The qualitative case study explored teaching and learning in a moving classroom, a unique learning environment. "Moving classroom" is a term coined by the researcher and refers to a classroom where instructors and students have the opportunity to move for the duration of class. For this study, the mode of movement was stationary bicycles. The purpose of this study was to identify how the moving classroom informs the teaching practices of instructors and the learning experiences of students in undergraduate kinesiology courses in South Texas. The rationale for this inquiry is that physical education requirements have decreased (Flegal, Carroll, Ogden, & Curtin, 2010), and prolonged sitting for students in both K-12 schools and collegiate settings has increased (Desai, Miller, Staples, & Bravender, 2008; Ferrara, 2009) despite findings which link physical activity to improved learning (Sattelmair & Ratey, 2009).

This study was guided using an interpretivism framework which aims to make meaning and understand lived-experiences (Crotty, 2004; Merriam, 2009). This study was further informed through work in brain neuroplasticity which examines how an induced change in the nervous system influences change in function and behavior (Shaw & McEachern, 2001). The bounded case of the moving classroom included two instructors and 76 students across three semesters.

Findings indicated that the moving classroom was favorable for college students who balance multiple demands. Student participants valued the autonomy to choose how to integrate into the learning environment. Findings also indicated that students had body awareness including posture and movement, and the influence of posture and movement on cognitive attributes. Participants also experienced increased caloric expenditure in a variety of ways. The findings indicated that the purpose of movement must be clear as to not be confused with that of an exercise class. Specific challenges identified were distractions from the physical space, class schedules, instructor workload, and instructor experience.

The implications of this study raise questions about how movement and activity can be integrated into a classroom, and what the role of physical activity is within the learning environment. This study raises further questions about the role of physical activity and movement in cognitive functioning within learning environments. Additionally, this study informs how health may be impacted from less sitting time in educational settings.


A dissertation submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of DOCTOR OF EDUCATION in EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi in Corpus Christi, Texas.


brain, classroom, cognition, exercise, movement, neuroplasticity



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