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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

SE professor measures activity in gym, classes

South+student+Samuel+Saucedo+lifts+weights+during+his+free+time.+A+SE+associate+professor+set+out+to+measure+any+relationship+between+physical+activity+and+brain+function+for+class.Bogdan+Sierra+Miranda%2FThe+Collegian
South student Samuel Saucedo lifts weights during his free time. A SE associate professor set out to measure any relationship between physical activity and brain function for class.

Bogdan Sierra Miranda/The Collegian

By Dylan Leverett/ reporter

South student Samuel Saucedo lifts weights during his free time. A SE associate professor set out to measure any relationship between physical activity and brain function for class.Bogdan Sierra Miranda/The Collegian
South student Samuel Saucedo lifts weights during his free time. A SE associate professor set out to measure any relationship between physical activity and brain function for class.
Bogdan Sierra Miranda/The Collegian

Many TCC students take physical education classes to meet the requirement of their degree plans, but one SE associate professor researched whether those classes could benefit a student’s academic success. 

For about two years, TCC has tried to increase on-campus academic research through its Mastery of Teaching Institute, which offers faculty the chance to explore and publish their research in an internal publication.

Faculty academy executive director Terry Mouchayleh spoke to TCC’s board of trustees Jan. 21 about the purpose of the program.

“For decades, there’s been a commonly accepted and very wrong myth that community college faculty can’t or won’t do research. Many people, though, would say that if they wanted to do research, they would do research at a university where it is required and compensated. Some said, ‘Well, yes, they can do research, but [they] would not do it without being paid,’” she said. “I think you’ll be impressed that the TCC faculty have proved both of those concepts completely wrong.”

SE health and physical education associate professor Melissa Evans had a theory that TCC students would be more academically successful if they were physically active prior to lecture classes.

“The research is very strong that physical activity is very beneficial to learning,” she said.

Evans based her theory on studies done on students kindergarten through 12th grade that showed academic improvement with an increase in physical activity and studies done on elderly patients who when consistently active didn’t exhibit symptoms of dementia.

She began her study with anonymous random students’ data (only student ID numbers and their corresponding grades) and divided them into two groups.

“One group was enrolled in an activity course that was immediately followed by a lecture course: English, history or math,” she said. “Then a group that took lecture courses back to back.”

After compiling her research, Evans found no significant difference between the two groups for success, but also no negative effects.

Although that would appear to be the end of it, Evans’ data raised more questions than it answered.

Evans said her initial research subjects lacked the structure of her theory’s influences. School-age children and the elderly usually have a more structured schedule than community college students who often have to balance education, work and other obligations.

In her published data, Evans also hypothesized that the simplicity of a letter grade, which is the culmination of tests and quizzes, was not a sufficient way to measure the possible positive result.

Evans’ data also found an increased rate of success in English, government and history classes for students who took a physical activity class prior to it and attended it three times a week as opposed to those students who did the same only twice a week.

“There may be a dose response needed to get the needed activity to get successful academic results,” she said.

In her published results, Evans writes, “Strategies involving [physical activity] interventions show great promise for enhancing academic achievement, but more extensive research is needed to identify specific factors that will positively enhance learning among the college population.”

Faculty development director Kelly Tribble said those faculty members, like Evans, can continue their research in the future.

“Once they are finished with them, people have come back and expressed to us they want to continue,” Tribble said. “We will have a mastery of teaching second-tier fellow program.”

Tribble was impressed with Mastery of Teaching faculty participants and Evans’ tenacity in her pursuit of research.

“Melissa did a fantastic job,” he said. “She was one of those people that took the ball and just ran with it.”

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