Embodied learning in the classroom: Effects on primary school children's attention and foreign language vocabulary learning
Objectives: The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of specifically designed physical activities on primary school children's foreign language vocabulary learning and attentional performance. Design: A total of 104 children aged between 8 and 10 years were assigned to either (a) an embodied learning condition consisting of task-relevant physical activities, (b) a physical activity condition involving task-irrelevant physical activities, or (c) a control condition consisting of a sedentary teaching style. Within a 2-week teaching program, consisting of four learning sessions, children had to learn 20 foreign language words. Method: Children were tested on their memory performance (cued recall test) after completion of the program and on their focused attention (d2-R test of attention) immediately after one learning session. Results: Linear mixed model analyses revealed both the embodied learning (d = 1.12) and the physical activity condition (d = 0.51) as being more effective in teaching children new words than the control condition. Children's focused attention, however, did not differ between the three conditions. Conclusions: The results are discussed in the light of embodied cognition and cognitive load theory. Implications for the inclusion of specific physical activities during the school day are proposed.