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itle: Effects of Brain Gym on Overhand Throwing in First GradeStudents: A Preliminary Investigation. Authors: Maskell, Bronwen1 Shapiro, Deborah R.2 Ridley, Christopher1 Source: Physical Educator; Late Winter2004, Vol. 61 Issue 1, p14-22, 9p, 2 charts Terms: *LEARNING *BRAIN *STUDENTS *EDUCATION, Primary *MOTOR ability in children *CHILD development The purpose was to examine the effect of Brain Gym on learning the overhand throw among 42 first grade students. Participants from two intact classes were randomly assigned to an experimental or control condition. Students were tested before and after a 5-week intervention using the object control subtest from the Jest of Gross Motor Development-2 (Ulrich & Sandford, 2000). Throwing performance was assessed four times throughout the study. Independent sample t-test resulted in no significant pre or post-test group differences in TGMD-2 scores. While throwing performance improved over time for both conditions, brain gym intervention had no statistically significant effect on throwing performance. The impact of Brain Gym is discussed with attention on recommendations for future research. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR] Copyright of Physical Educator is the property of Phi Epsilon Kappa Fraternity and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract. (Copyright applies to all Abstracts.) Teacher within the Clayton County Public Schools (Georgia) 2 Faculty member at Georgia State University.
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Effects of Brain Gym on Overhand Throwing in First Grade Students: A Preliminary Investigation
The purpose was to examine the effect of Brain Gym on learning the overhand throw among 42 first grade students. Participants from two intact classes were randomly assigned to an experimental or control condition. Students were tested before and after a 5-week intervention using the object control subtest from the Jest of Gross Motor Development-2 (Ulrich & Sandford, 2000). Throwing performance was assessed four times throughout the study. Independent sample t-test resulted in no significant pre or posttest group differences in TGMD-2 scores. While throwing performance improved over time for both conditions, brain gym intervention had no statistically significant effect on throwing performance. The impact of Brain Gym is discussed with attention on recommendations for future research. Fundamental movement skills including locomotor and object control skills typically emerge in children between the ages of 1 and 7 years (Burton, 1998). Beginning around age two children improve motor skills through learning to better select, process, organize, and integrate perceptual information (Haywood, 1993). Perceptual motor learning is a primary means of acquiring knowledge of movement skills from ages 2 to 7 years. The general order of emergence of motor skills has been identified with walking being the first locomotor skill and throwing being among the first object control skills to be acquired (Seefeldt & Haubenstricker, 1982). The most mature object control movement patterns are contralateral in nature as in mature throwing or kicking (i.e. right arm and left leg or left arm and right leg) (Sherrill, 1998). One measure of perceptual motor development is the amount of time needed to process information. Research using Information Processing Theory has found that tasks requiring movement across the body's midline or the central axis dividing the body in two halves (Cermak & Ayers, 1984) are more complex and require extended processing time than ipsilateral (one sided) movements (Henry & Rogers, 1960). Midline crossing movements are (a) actions that result in looking, reaching, or stepping across the body's midline (Woodard & Surburg, 1999) (b) involve the ability to use one body part in the contralateral side of space (Stillwell, 1987) and (c) focus on skills necessary for easy two-sided or left-to-right movement across the midline of the body. Throwing and kicking are examples of skills requiring crossing the body's midline. Throwing requires the throwing hand to cross the midline during follow-through. In kicking, the kicking leg crosses the body midline after connecting with the ball. Midline crossing movements tend to challenge first grade students, who are typically 6 years of age

(Eason & Surburg, 1993). Children typically develop the ability to cross the body midline by age 8 to 10 (Cermak, Quintero, & Cohen, 1980; Haywood, 1993). Eason and Surburg (1993) referred to difficulty crossing the body midline as midline crossing inhibition (MCI). The tendency to avoid crossing the body midline has been observed in, and poses more of a challenge to children ages 4-6 years with learning disabilities (LD) than children without LD between 7-8 years (Cermak & Ayers, 1984; Cermak et al., 1980; Auxter, Pyfer, & Huettig, 1997). Midline crossing problems inhibit persons with certain types of motor dysfunction from successfully executing certain types of physical tasks (Woodard & Surburg, 1999). Information processing time has been used to gain understanding of academic and movement related problems that students may experience (Kerr & Hughes, 1987). Children who have not developed cross-lateral integration by age 8 are said to have MCI (Auxter et al., 1997). According to Woodard and Surburg (1999) some children may receive special motor or sensory integrative services to compensate for this deficit. Perceptual motor theorists suggest simple activities and games requiring children to practice crossing the midline with different body parts (Haywood, 1993, Sherrill, 1998). Brain Gym is a movement program designed to engage students in moving different body parts across the body midline. The theoretical propositions underlying Brain Gym are a series of simple challenging movements designed to enhance cognitive processing, psychomotor and whole-brain learning (Dennison & Dennison, 1994; Hannaford, 1995). Brain gym focuses on the idea that movements integrating left and right brain hemispheres (a) relax students heightening cognitive awareness and (b) permit students to focus on specific aspects of a skill/task thereby facilitating processing and learning of new information (Dennison & Dennison, 1994; Hannaford, 1995). The more each hemisphere is accessed the more intelligently we can function (Hannaford, 1995). Brain Gym movements are grouped together to target specific skills, including reading, writing, thinking, math and whole-body coordination for sports and play. Brain Gym identifies three dimensions of the brain: laterality, focus, and centering. It is within the laterality dimension that Brain Gym targets midline crossing through facilitating development of bilateral integration (Dennison & Dennison, 1994). Bilateral integration is the ability to cross the central midline of the body in order to work in the midfield during skill performance (Cermak & Ayers, 1984; Cermak, Quintero, & Cohen, 1980). Bilateral integration is necessary in executing the overhand throw when releasing the ball towards the target or opponent in the midfield. Midline movements help to integrate binocular vision, binaural hearing (hearing with both ears) as well as left and right sides of the brain and body,

all of which are used in skill execution (Dennison & Dennison, 1994). While, in theory, Brain Gym appears to have the potential to improve fundamental movement skill performance requiring midline crossing movements there is no existent research on the effects of using Brain Gym or midline crossing movements to improve skill performance. The purpose of the study was to examine the effects of Brain Gym on midline crossing movement of the overhand throw among first grade students. If Brain Gym helps students learn midline crossing movements more efficiently, more time can be spent on improving the execution of the overhand throw. The following research question guided this study: Does the integration of midline crossing movements, developed in Brain Gym, improve learning and skill execution of the overhand throw performed by first grade students? Method Participants Participants were 42 children, 19 boys (M age = 6.98, SD = .42) and 23 girls (M age = 6.98, SD = .55), between 6 and 8 years of age. A total of 59% of the children were African American, 19% were Caucasian, 14% were Hispanic and 7% were Asian. All children came from low socio-economic backgrounds. Participants were students in one of two intact first grade classes at the same urban elementary school in a southeastern state. According to comparisons between test results on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS, 2000) the classes used in this study represented typical first grade classes within the school and county. There were no identified students with behavior disorders, learning disabilities, motor impairments or physical or sensory impairments that would influence participants' performance in this study. Three participants repeated first grade. This was their first year enrolled at the elementary school where the study was conducted. Physical education curricula vary according to schools and counties. We had no information on their previous physical education instruction on the overhand throw. Upon examination of pretest throwing skill scores, students' performance was consistent with scores achieved by their peers. Given the similarity in pretest performance we included these three first grade students in the study. The two first grade classes were randomly assigned to either the experimental or control conditions. Within the experimental condition were 20 participants, 11 boys and 9 girls (M age = 7.04, SD = .53). The control

condition consisted of 22 students, 8 boys and 14 girls (M age = 6.94, SD = . 46). Instruments Test of Gross Motor Development Second Edition (TGMD-2). The TGMD-2 (Ulrich & Sandford, 2000) is designed to assess fundamental gross motor behavior of children ages 3 to 10 years. The test measures 12 gross motor skills that may be taught in preschool, early elementary and special education classes. The skills are divided into two locomotor and object control subtests. Only the object control subscale and the overhand throwing skill specifically were used in this study. The object control subtest evaluates striking, dribbling, catching, kicking, overhand throwing and underhand rolling. Students were observed performing two trials of each skill. A score between 0 and 1 was given for each performance criteria observed. The maximum score for each skill ranged from 6-10 depending on the number of performance criteria. The maximum score for the overhand throw was 8 points. The total score possible for the object control subtest was 48 points. Performance on each skill was assessed by observation and the use of a scoring rubric that outlined 3 to 5 criteria of mature performance. The throwing criteria included (a) windup initiated with downward movement of hand/arm, (b) rotates hip and shoulders so nonthrowing side faces the wall, (c) weight transferred by stepping with foot opposite throwing hand, and (d) follow-through diagonally across body toward nonpreferred side (Ulrich & Sanford, 2000). To determine scorer reliability, each condition was tested four times using the overhand throwing skill test. These tests were videotaped on the 2nd, 6th, 10th, and 14th days to monitor student progress on the overhand throw. The third author scored the same testing sessions on two separate occasions. Students' throwing performance was evaluated by the third author according to the four criteria outlined above. The scorer was trained on scoring the TGMD-2 while enrolled in a motor development class at a southeastern university. The third author was blind to the condition to which participants belonged. Test retest reliability resulted in an r = .98. Ulrich and Sanford also confirmed construct and content validity of the TGMD-2. Duration Recording Observation Instrument (Metzler, 1990). To analyze both conditions' skill practice engagement time during instruction, a simple duration recording system was developed for use in the study. New throwing activities were introduced on the 1st, 5th, 10th and 14th lessons within the instructional unit. It was only on these specific days that both groups had physical education on the same day. For this reason we decided to videotape these lessons to ensure the similarity of content being evaluated for each

condition within the instructional unit. Results of these evaluations were not revealed to the primary investigator to avoid biasing instruction. Two trained observers coded the amount of student practice time for each condition in each of the 1st, 5th, 10th, and 14th lesson. These observers were experts in the filed of elementary physical education and one was a certified brain gym instructor. The primary author familiarized both experts with the purpose of the duration recording instrument, defined each duration category, gave examples of target behaviors within each category and familiarized observers with the instruments' recording sheet and procedures. Observer training was based on criteria suggested by Metzler (1990) for training for reliable observations. Scorer reliability was assessed by having the two scorers independently assess practice time in 2 of 8 videotaped lessons. The percent of class time in the two lessons derived by the two scorers was similar (Lesson 1 = 18% and 19%, Lesson 2 = 23% and 25%). Brain Gym: Teacher's Edition Revised. This instructor's manual provided detailed explanations and descriptions of Brain Gym activities and their link to improving cognitive learning for different academic and physical skills. A total of 10 midline crossing movements are outlined in the manual (Dennison & Dennison, 1994). Of these, 6 were selected for use in this study including: the Cross Crawl, Lazy 8's, the Elephant, Cross Crawl Sit-ups, Belly Breathing and Neck rolls (see Table 1). Procedures The five-week study consisted of a total of 16, thirty-minute lessons. We structured lessons and instructional strategies to follow a mastery goal orientation (Ames, 1992). Each lesson was developed to facilitate accomplishing the four criteria of the overhand throw outlined in the TGMD-2 (Ulrich & Sanford, 2000). The primary researcher emphasized mastering components of the task by stressing the cues of the overhand throw, not the outcome (accuracy and distance) of the throw. The lesson structure for the experimental and control group remained consistent throughout the study. Activities students engaged in varied between discovery and stations. Stations challenged participants to modify their throwing to facilitate different activities at each station. Throwing tasks were novel, varied and diverse in order to stimulate student interest and engage students in learning (Ames, 1992; Blumenfeld, 1992). Students participated in stations that included throwing beanbags overhand through hula-hoop targets, throwing at targets on the wall, and throwing overhand to knock over bowling pins. Students pretended they were pitchers in a baseball league in order to facilitate learning the overhand throw.

The primary investigator provided instruction to both the experimental and control conditions. Each was instructed separately in the gym, during their regularly scheduled physical education class time. Participants were pretested and post-tested using the TGMD-2 (Ulrich & Sanford, 2000). The primary investigator administered the TGMD-2 to students in groups of 6. Student's pre and posttest performance was videotaped. After the experimental condition was pre-tested they were taught the Brain Gym activities under direct instruction, prior to introducing the throwing unit. During two of their regularly scheduled 30-minute physical education classes, activities were described then demonstrated and participants practiced these activities. They were given specific feedback until they mastered the Brain Gym activities. Based on the primary investigator's observation of student performance of Brain Gym activities, two 30-minute instructional sessions provided sufficient learning time. The lesson structure for the experimental condition consisted of a 3-minute warm-up that included the 6 midline Brain Gym movements, 3-5 minutes of instruction time, 18-20 minutes of activity time and 2-3 minutes for closure. During transition from one activity to the next, students would engage in one of the Brain Gym activities to refocus attention on the skill being taught. The control condition was taught the same five-week overhand-throwing unit. The instructional unit differed by excluding the Brain Gym warm-up and other Brain Gym activities. The control conditions' lesson structure consisted of a 3-minute stretching warm-up, a 3-5 minute period of instruction, an 1820 minute period of activity time and 2-3 minutes of closure. Data Analysis Data for this study included pre- and post instruction TGMD-2 object control subscale scores (ranging from 0-48 points), throwing performance scores (ranging from 0-8 points) for each of 4 testing sessions, and amount of skill practice time for each condition for each of 4 lessons. Skill practice time for each lesson was divided by the total lesson time to get a percentage of skill practice time per lesson. This was done for each of the two conditions. An independent sample t-test was used to determine pre and posttest TGMD2 object control subtest score differences for each condition. A 2 x 4 repeated measures ANOVA was used to determine whether throwing performance differed across the 4 testing days for each condition. Lastly, an independent sample t-test was used to determine if skill practice engagement during instruction differed between the two conditions. SPSS for Windows was used for all data analysis. Statistical significance was set at p < .05. Results

Descriptive statistics for each test for both control and experimental conditions are presented in Table 2. Independent sample t-test of pretest TGMD-2 object control subtest scores indicated no significant differences between the two conditions (t = 0.52, p = .60). These baseline differences were not statistically significant. The control condition's object control subscale pretest score was slightly higher than the experimental condition's score. Out of a possible 48 points, the experimental and control conditions object control subtest mean pretest scores were 35.5 and 36.6 respectively. Analysis of posttest scores of the two conditions using an independent sample t-test indicated no significant differences (t = 1.42, p = .16). Although the control condition's subscale posttest mean score was higher than the experimental conditions posttest mean score these differences were not statistically significant. The experimental condition's posttest mean score was 42.45 and the control condition's mean posttest score was 44.22. Standard deviations for both conditions ranged from 2.82 to 7.18. The standard deviations were larger for the experimental condition than the control condition. While both groups significantly improved from pre to posttest the change between conditions was not statistically significant (F = 1.27, p = .26). Throwing performance was assessed at 4 times throughout the study. The 2x4 (condition by throwing lesson) repeated measures ANOVA indicated a main effect for throwing F ( 1,40) = 36.25, p = .00, indicating that throwing performance improved over time. The analysis indicated no significant interaction F ( 1,40) = .966, p = .332 indicating no significant differences in throwing performance across conditions over time. Skill practice engagement time was assessed on 4 days. The average percent of time spent engaged in skill practice for the experimental and control condition's lessons over the 4 evaluation days were 27% and 34% respectively. The independent sample t-test indicated that the difference between experimental and control condition means for skill practice time was not statistically significant (t = 1.74, p = .13). Both conditions engaged in a similar amount skill practice time. Discussion The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of adding Brain Gym on midline crossing activities to physical education instruction on overhand throwing skills of first grade students. The results indicate that both the experimental and control conditions significantly improved their overhand throwing ability from pretest to posttest. The data showed that each condition had similar beginning baseline and concluding data, with no significant difference between the conditions at each of the 4 testing times. Although the data is inconclusive, it does suggest that the conditions had

similar learning trends during the study. Brain Gym intervention neither added nor detracted from the experimental groups learning process. Rink (1993) suggests student activity time should not fall below 45%. Skill practice engagement in the current study for both groups was lower than what experts recommend, 27% for the experimental and 34% for the control group. Although these percentages differ between conditions, the differences were not statistically significant. Low skill practice can be explained by the time when lesson taping was scheduled. Taping fell on days when new activities within the overhand throwing unit were being introduced to both groups. Lessons on testing days, 1, 5, 10 and 14, required more talk and demonstration to familiarize participants with each new activity. Subsequent lessons following testing days required less talk/demonstration because participants were already familiar with the lesson content. Based on the data we cannot conclude students had consistently low skill practice time during the study. In conjunction with introductory lessons to new skills within the unit, future studies should evaluate lessons in which students have already been taught the content area. This would provide a more accurate measure of the impact of Brain Gym on skill practice engagement time. Given the seeming popularity of Brain Gym in elementary schools today, the following recommendations may facilitate future investigations of Brain Gym as an instructional tool in physical education and adapted physical education classes. Students need to understand why they are doing Brain Gym movements. Stimulating motivation in students manifests a positive attitude toward mastering goals. Motivation creates a strong belief in students that success follows from ones efforts (Ames & Archer, 1988). Explaining the purpose and benefits of each Brain Gym movement may motivate students to try and master the activities more effectively. Explanations of the purpose and benefit of each movement may help students focus on the relevant cues, enabling students to better grasp the techniques behind the movements, thereby increasing the effectiveness of the Brain Gym movements. There are no standards for the amount of time to be spent on Brain Gym activities to see an impact on performance. Lessons in this investigation were designed to maximize practice time for overhand throwing, emphasizing consistent activity time for each group. Both groups spent a third of their lesson on practicing the overhand throw. In typical physical education classes, little time is spent on warm-up activities and this time often is rushed. Hannaford (1995) suggested that Brain Gym activities be performed very slowly because more fine motor involvement and balance is required, consciously activating the vestibular system and frontal lobes. Within the warm-up part of the lesson, future research should examine how

much time is necessary to spend teaching Brain Gym movements to impact midline crossing movements such as throwing. Inclusion of students with disabilities in general physical education classes is increasing. Students with LD and students with mental retardation (MR) comprise the largest groups of special education students in the public schools today (Auxter et al., 1997). Characteristics of students with LD and MR include MCI (Auxter et al., 1997; Woodard & Surburg, 1999; Eason & Surburg, 1993). Future research should examine the effects of Brain Gym on MCI among students with LD and MR. Brain Gym may improve the learning of motor skills requiring crossing the midline as well as potentially reduce MCI. A reduction in MCI should improve skill execution of fundamental motor skills requiring midline crossing movements.
Legend for Chart: A - Activity B - Movement Table 1 Brain Gym Midline Movements A B Cross Crawl Student alternately moves one hand to its opposite knee and the other hand to its opposite knee. Lazy 8's Student makes a figure 8 on its side with a thumbs-up hand position, start at the midline and moves counterclockwise first: up, over and around. Then from the midline moves clockwise up, over and around back to the midpoint. The eyes follow the thumb. Three repetitions with each hand separately, then with both together. The Elephant Bend knees, "glue" your hand to your shoulder, and point across the room. Use ribs to move your whole upper body as you trace a Lazy 8. Look past your fingers. Cross Crawl Sit-up's Hold your hands behind your head and pretend you are riding a bicycle as you touch your elbow to the opposite knee. Belly Breathing Rest hand on abdomen. Blow out all the air in short, soft little puffs. Take a slow deep breath filling up gently. Your hand rises as you inhale and falls as you exhale. Neck Rolls Breathe deeply, relax your shoulders, and drop your head forward. Allow your head to roll slowly from side to side as your chin draws a smooth curve across your chest. Note. From "Brain Gym: Teacher's Edition Revised," by P. E. Dennison & G. E. Dennison, 1994, p.4-14. Copyright 1989 by P. E. Dennison and G. E. Dennison. Legend for Chart: A - Experimental Condition: M B - Experimental Condition: SD C - Control Condition: M

D - Control Condition: SD Table 2 Throwing Performance Before, During, and After Instructional Intervention A B C D Age 7.0 5.30 6.9 0.46 Pretest 35.5 7.18 36.6 6.94 Test 1 4.5 3.01 4.1 3.25 Test 2 5.3 3.21 6.4 2.15 Test 3 6.8 2.03 8.0 0.00 Test 4 6.8 2.46 7.6 1.70 Posttest 42.4 5.05 44.2 2.82 Note. Experimental condition (n = 20), control condition (n = 22).

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By Bronwen Maskell; Deborah R. Shapiro and Christopher Ridley

Copyright of Physical Educator is the property of Phi Epsilon Kappa Fraternity and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use.

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