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Active bodies, active minds

Kinesthetic classroom steps up student engagement

KENNESAW, Ga. (Feb 19, 2018) — Some students are doing double-takes when they get their first look at a new classroom in Kennesaw State University’s Convocation Center.

Rather than the typical class setting, the room is equipped with chairs that wobble and desks that have pedals for striding, stepping or stationary biking.

“I was worried I wasn’t in the right place when I first walked in and I saw the equipment,” Kayci St. Clair, a junior majoring in digital animation, said with a laugh. “But I really like it.”

It is Kennesaw State’s first kinesthetic classroom, where students engage in motion activities during class. The idea, supported by an increasing amount of research, is that keeping the body active helps stimulate the mind and enhance learning.

“Studies have shown that a healthy student needs to move at least every 20 minutes to stay engaged in the material,” said Mia Oberlton, a lecturer of health promotion and physical education and teacher of the Honors Foundations for Healthy Living course. “Having a classroom that is fully outfitted to keep the students moving is a great idea because you’re constantly getting the benefit. It keeps them motivated and connected.”

The kinesthetic classroom was initiated and funded by KSU’s WellStar College of Health and Human Services. After hosting its first classes during the fall 2017 semester, the classroom is being utilized this semester by 10 instructors teaching courses including Disease Prevention and Management; Youth Fitness Development and Assessment; Functional Anatomy and Physiology in Physical Education; and Curriculum, Methods and Materials for Health Education.

“I think I’m a lot more focused in class (in the kinesthetic classroom),” said Grayson Saylor, a sophomore music major who was among the first students to use it. “I find myself participating in class more and listening more. I’m definitely more engaged.”

Kinesthetic Classroom

Oberlton and Kandice Porter, chair of the Department of Health Promotion and Physical Education (HPE), have been interested in kinesthetic learning for some time. Their efforts led the WellStar College to approve funding and select the company KidsFit to outfit KSU’s kinesthetic classroom. KidsFit works primarily with K-12 school systems, but branched out to equip Kennesaw State with the company’s first fully kinesthetic classroom on a college campus in the U.S.

While the classroom so far has been utilized for Health Promotion and Physical Education courses, it is available to any interested professors on campus. Also, research will be a key element of the kinesthetic classroom. Porter, Oberlton and others will compile data to analyze the benefits students gain from having classes there.

“We want the HPE Department to be pioneers in this line of research,” Porter said. “We hope that our research, as well as others in the field, will change how we outfit college classrooms. Of course, we are interested in seeing how academic performance improves.”

– Paul Floeckher

Photos by David Caselli

Video by Rob Witzel

A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 35,000 students. With 13 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university's vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. A Carnegie-designated doctoral institution, it is one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.

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