School Recess + Adults = ?

I presented research on school-based recess at the North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Exercise and Physical Activity (NASPSPA) 2020 virtual conference. Find the presentation below.

A recess with(out) adults: Using qualitative research methods to examine common problems and potential solutions for school-based recess

Over the past decade, considerable attention has been paid to the implications of school-based recess on childhood development. Emerging data suggests that decision makers must consider the quality of recess in addition to children’s access to this environment (Massey et al., 2020). In an effort to develop solutions to increasing the quality of children’s experience at recess, the purpose of the current study was to document common problems observed during elementary school recess and the conditions in which these problems emerged. Data were collected from 112 recess sessions in 25 schools located in three distinct geographical regions (Midwest, Northwest, Southwest portions of the United States). The Great Recess Framework-Observational Tool (GRF-OT; Massey et al., 2018) measures the following factors: (1) safety and structure of the recess environment, (2) student behaviors on the playground, (3) adult supervision and engagement, (4) transitions, and (5) physical activity patterns. The GRF-OT was used to guide observations and detailed field notes. Following data collection an inductive content analysis was conducted to examine patterns in the raw data. Analyses revealed that poorly designed and maintained recess spaces contribute to common safety issues observed during recess.  Moreover, a combination of insufficient space planning and maintenance, lack of play equipment and game availability, and limited adult involvement on the playground reinforced social hierarchies that led to exclusionary practices. While recess is often deemed a child-led portion of the school day, results highlighted the important, and often forgotten, role adults play in recess. For example, adults have the resources to design play spaces, ensure the availability of adequate equipment, maintain and upkeep spaces and equipment, and reinforce rules and norms of behavior. Findings will be presented within the context of practical solutions schools and policy makers can adopt to mitigate issues observed during recess.

Authors: Deanna Perez, Janelle Thalken, Alexandra Szarabajko, Laura Neilson, & William V. Massey

Kinesiology Program | School of Biological and Population Health Sciences | College of Public Health and Human Sciences

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