Is the amount of time spent for physical activity linked to academic success?

Term Paper 2003 29 Pages

Business economics - Miscellaneous


Table of Content

1. Introduction

2. Real scenario

3. Ideal scenario

4. Results

5. Discussion and Recommendation

6. References and Appendix

1. Introduction

My motivation for this report

Throughout my life I heard the famous phrase ìhealthy body, healthy mind.î At least in Germany this phrase is quite common. But is there really a relationship, or do people just say it? In this context some might argue that being physical active does not contribute to the overall health at all. It is more what we eat that matters. They are right to some extent. However, according to Chryss Cada, staying in shape is always a balance between exercise and nutrition (Cada, 2003). Both physical activity and a good diet contribute to a healthy body and, according to the famous phrase, to a healthy mind. To find out if a healthy body really helps a student perform better academically I examined what impact physical activity has on the academic success of students. I believe that there is a positive relationship between physical activity and academic success.

Secondary data research

The literature is full of opinions that support my assumption. For example, Douglas H. Heath, a professor emeritus of the Psychology Department of Haverford College, states that success in general is caused by many factors such as how many hobbies, interests, and jobs a student has, or who is active in extracurricular activities (Becker, 1992). A more relevant statement to this topic comes from Jim MacKinnon, the athletic director at Starpoint, who points out that ìKids who go through the athletic

program learn discipline, and that carries over into their studies. It carries over not only into academics; it carries over into your life.î (Dicesare, 2002) Sheila Boles, Hoggardís High School athletics director, even says: ìI donít think thereís anything that can teach you more about life than athletics ñ success and failure and how to handle them both graciously.î (Grady, 2002) Many other authors share this opinion. They contribute that athletes have higher GPAís (Hickman, 2002), or are more likely to find themselves in supervisory roles in the later working environment than their non-athletic peers

(Schouten, 2002). Sport programs even help students develop self-confidence, time management skills and interpersonal communication (Molbeck, 2003). Furthermore, physical activity may strengthen competitive drive in non-athletic areas, boost self confidence, and reinforce the discipline necessary for academic success (Robst, 2000). On the other hand, researchers found that college athletes do not perform as well as their non-active peers. Forty-two percent of the college athletes fail to achieve a 2.00 GPA necessary for graduation, compared to 35 percent of the non-athletes. Also their graduation rates are 10 percentage points lower than those of their non-active peers (Maloney & McCormick, 1993). Another study group found that especially football and basketball players have significantly lower reading comprehension and mathematics achievement than male non-athletes. However, this study group also suggests that football and basketball are major revenue-producing sports which absorb so much physical and psychological energy that there is not so much left for University (Edison et al., 1999).

My hypothesis

My literature search strengthened my assumption to believe in a strong relationship between physical activity and academic success. To begin with my study I needed to follow a few steps.

First, I identified an independent variable and a dependent variable. My independent variable is the amount of time students engage in physical activity. My dependent variable is the academic success of the students, measured by their grade point average (GPA). So, the academic success is influenced or can be predicted by the amount of time the student engages in physical activity. Based on my variables I formed following hypothesis:

Full-time MBA students, who engage in recreational physical activity, have more academic success than their non-active peers.

The reason for choosing Full-time MBA students will be explained in part two of this report. The relationship between my two variables can also be depicted in following graphic form.

Exhibit 1 (expected relationship between amount of time spent for physical activity and GPA) This graph along with my hypothesis would be consistent with my belief in a ìhealthy body, healthy mind.î As I mentioned in the beginning of the report I believe that being physical active contributes a lot to oneís overall health. I further believe that oneís well being has something to do with academic performance, which is measured in great point average. Also my secondary data research revealed that there are many experts out there who share the same opinion.

To sum it up, I expected to find that students who spend more time for physical activity have a higher GPA than students who are less physical active. In the body of my report I will explain what I did to show that there is indeed a positive relationship between physical activity and academic success.

2. Real scenario

My target group

In my study I concentrated on Full-time MBA students (8 or more units) who see physical activity as recreation and do not play in teams or take part at competitions. By choosing students who see physical activity as recreation only I avoided getting answers from professional athletes who do nothing but sport and often neglect their studies. Professional athletes are excluded from this study and in the remainder of the report the term physical activity refers only to recreational physical activity. The reason for choosing Full-time MBA students was that they have approximately the same study workload. It would not have made sense to mix undergraduates and graduates for this research. Undergraduates often have less study workload than graduates and hence can engage more in sport activities without sacrificing academic performance. Therefore I decided to concentrate on Full-time MBA students only.

I was not looking for certain behaviors or preferences in the people I surveyed. By handing out my questionnaire to students randomly I made sure that I include every one in the research. I even let fill out my questionnaire from students of whom I knew they are really smart but do not care about physical activity so much. All together I decided to survey 30 people.

The questionnaire

To explain the positive relationship between physical activity of students (independent variable) and their academic success (dependent variable) I conducted a survey. I did not interview people, but prepared a questionnaire. In contrast to a study in the real word I let my questionnaire fill out by students who were most conveniently available (convenience sampling). These were students in class and at the dorms. Questionnaires per e-mail were also sent out to reach people who are out of town or country this summer. A copy of the questionnaire can be seen in the appendix. My questionnaire included different types of scales. For some questions the nominal scale method was selected. In the gender questions, for example, respondents could check either 1 for male or 2 for female. Similarly, the nominal scale method was used when respondents had to check if they are working full-time, part-time or non- working. I selected the nominal scale method for these kinds of questions because it made it easy for the student to respond and fill out the questionnaire quickly. For some questions the interval scale was more appropriate. For example, when I asked how important physical activity is the respondent had a choice from 1 to 6, meaning ìnot important at allî to ìvery importantî respectively. I also made use of fixed alternative questions (ordinal scale). Here the respondent could check from 1 for never to 5 for every day when asked how often he/she engages in physical activity.

My questionnaire also included open-ended questions like ìWhat kind of physical activity do you do the most?î or ìHealthy body, healthy mind. What do you

think about this statement?î By using open-ended questions I gave the respondent the possibility to let ideas flow and to state their opinion in their own words.

Errors in my survey research

Before conducting the research I knew that I will encounter some measurement errors. The few students who were going to fill out my questionnaire could not represent the whole population. I had been aware that unless I would increase my sample size this random sampling error was unavoidable.

Since there was not much I could do anyway to reduce the random sampling error I tried to guard against the systematic errors. Systematic errors result from imperfect research design or from a mistake in the execution of the research. These errors, also called non-sampling errors, fall in two categories, respondent errors and administrative errors.

Respondent errors could arise if the students who were going to fill out my questionnaire would not give truthful answers. Sometimes people tend to answer in a certain direction. This survey error is also called response bias. My respondents could lie or want to look more athletic than they actually are. They could be tempted to provide a higher GPA than they actually have or they could go through the questions quickly without thinking in order to get over with (deliberate falsification). Chances were also high that my respondents would not understand the question or they could be just wrong (unconscious misrepresentation). For example, they might not remember how many hours they engage in physical activity per week.



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Institution / College
California State University, East Bay
Research Methods Communication




Title: Is the amount of time spent for physical activity linked to academic success?