In a world where today’s students have access to so many technological advancements – ranging from computer word-processors to instant access to online reference materials – the rate of student productivity and scholastic achievement hasn’t kept pace. What can be done about it?
Equipped with a tablet and access to the Internet, today’s students have instant access to the treasure trove of the world’s information. Yet, given all these new technology resources, there’s a strong feeling that the level of student academic achievement and productivity has remained stagnant or even fallen behind. What can be done to improve student productivity? We take a look at three areas of concern to see what can be done to improve student performance.
1. Concern that Young Students Have Trouble Paying Attention to Teachers in the Classroom
Faced with the challenge of improving standardized test scores, many school districts across the country have increased the number of classroom instruction hours at the expense of recess and physical education classes.
The result? Many of today’s students sit at their desks for far longer than they should. Just like adults working long hours at an office desk, sitting for long periods is unhealthy for children and adolescents as well. Students need to be getting up and moving about to maintain proper levels of concentration.
Sit-to-Stand desks in the classroom can help.
According to a study of second, third, and fourth graders published in the International Journal of Health Promotion and Education, researchers found preliminary evidence that students who used sit-to-stand desks increased their on-task engagement by more than 12% compared to those seated at traditional desks. This result, according to the researchers, is equivalent to increasing the instruction time by 7 minutes each hour.
Another development in furniture design for young students are desks with built-in swing bars (also known as ”busy bars”) which are designed for leg movement. Two teachers from Oklahoma were among the first to develop the idea of incorporating these foot swings under a desk so that fidgety students could channel their physical energy in a way that was less distracting for other students in the classroom.
Formaspace manufactures sit-to-stand desks and can create built-in swing bars for students that are tailored to your exact needs. Contact your Formaspace Design Consultant for more information.
2. Concern that Students are Increasingly Facing Healthcare Challenges, including Obesity and Diabetes
Sit-to-stand desks not only help with student concentration, they can help students become healthier overall – by encouraging students to stand while studying in the classroom.
Studies, like a recent 8-month trial, indicate that height adjustable desks in the classroom have the potential to help overweight students lose excess weight, which is a leading cause of Type II diabetes.
Given the reduction or elimination of outdoor breaks or ‘recess’ at many schools, it’s more important than ever to get students to move and stand up during classroom instruction.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 20 percent of US elementary schools did not include any scheduled recess breaks. In response, educators and parents are actively lobbying to bring back recess and physical education classes to the daily school schedule.
Brown Elementary School in Irving, Texas is one of four schools in the Dallas-Fort Worth area that have instituted four short recess breaks throughout the day. According to an interview with the Today show, administrators report that students return to class after recess fully refreshed and ready to learn.
3. Concern that Students are Overwhelmed with Hours of Homework Designed to Prepare for Standardized Tests
In an effort to improve school district test scores, many schools have significantly increased the number of hours of homework that students are expected to complete during the evening hours after school.
In some cases, parents are beginning to rebel. According to this recent Washington Post article, many parents feel that their young children, particularly those in elementary school, would perform better academically by learning things at home, either by exploring on their own or with friends or through participation in family activities.
The criticism of standardized tests themselves is also increasing.
According to one exasperated poet, Sara Holbrook, whose poems were used in standardized tests given to Texas middle school students, she writes that she was unable to correctly answer the test questions about the poems she herself had written.
Filmmaker, Michael Moore, has also weighed in with a provocative claim that students from Finland, who currently rank among the highest on worldwide academic tests, have a secret solution: no homework and no testing for elementary aged kids.
While this claim is undoubtedly exaggerated, a recent blog post about Finnish education is worth a read to learn about their balanced approach to education.
What’s the solution? It may be time to reexamine the central role that standardized testing now plays in determining student classroom curriculum — especially if it comes at the expense of healthy exercise and creative exploration.
Instead, we’d like to see more learning by doing activities and the introduction of makerspaces in schools that encourage students to learn more about how to build things with their own hands.
What is your opinion? We’d love to hear from you.
Education is Just One Area Where Formaspace Furniture Can Make a Difference
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