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Strengthen the Evidence for Maternal and Child Health Programs

New: MCHbest strategies database for sample ESMs

Evidence Tools
MCHbest. NPM 8: Physical Activity

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Strategy. Homework or Extra Credit for Physical Education Class

Approach. Assign physical activity requirements outside of school for homework or extra credit.

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Overview.Research indicates that an intervention where teachers assign physical activity requirements outside the classroom can increase physical activity levels in elementary school children. These interventions sometimes involve parents’ signing-off on their child’s activities in order to promote accountability. The interventions can also include teacher training (e.g., to help develop a curriculum supporting physical activity).1

Evidence. Emerging. Initial research showed positive results for providing homework or extra credit for physical education class to increase physical activity in school children. Further research is needed to identify critical components and confirm effects. This strategy has been tested more than once and results trend positive overall. Access the peer-reviewed evidence through the MCH Digital Library. (Read more about understanding evidence ratings).

Target Audience. Schools: elementary school children, teachers, parents.

Outcome. Increase in overall physical activity in elementary school children. For detailed outcomes related to each study supporting this strategy, click on the peer-reviewed evidence link above and read the “Intervention Results” for each study.

Examples from the Field. Access descriptions of ESMs that use this strategy directly or intervention components that aligns with this strategy. You can use these ESMs to see how other Title V agencies are addressing the NPM.

Sample ESMs. Using the approach “Assign physical activity requirements outside of school for homework or extra credit,” here are sample ESMs you can use to model for your own measures using the Results-Based Accountability framework (for suggestions on how to develop programs to support this strategy, see The Role of Title V in Adapting Strategies):

Quadrant 1:
Measuring Quantity of Effort
("What/how much did we do?")

  • Number of teachers trained in using homework assignments or extra credit activities to increase physical activity in and outside of school.
  • Number of children completing homework assignments or extra credit activities to increase physical activity across school districts.

Quadrant 2:
Measuring Quality of Effort
("How well did we do it?")

  • Percent of teachers trained in using homework assignments or extra credit activities to increase physical activity in and outside of school.
  • Percent of children completing homework assignments or extra credit activities to increase physical activity across school districts.

Quadrant 3:
Measuring Quantity of Effect
("Is anyone better off?")

  • Number of teachers who report using homework assignments or extra credit activities to increase physical activity for their students across school districts.
  • Number of children who report increased physical activity in their activity logs due to homework assignments or extra credit activities across school districts.

Quadrant 4:
Measuring Quality of Effect
("How are they better off?")

  • Percent of teachers who report using homework assignments or extra credit activities to increase physical activity for their students across school districts.
  • Percent of children who report increased physical activity in their activity logs due to homework assignments or extra credit activities across school districts.

Note. ESMs become stronger as they move from measuring quantity to measuring quality (moving from Quadrants 1 and 3, respectively, to Quadrants 2 and 4) and from measuring effort to measuring effect (moving from Quadrants 1 and 2, respectively, to Quadrants 3 and 4).

Learn More. Read how to create stronger ESMs and how to measure ESM impact more meaningfully through Results-Based Accountability.


References:

1 Duncan S, Stewart T, McPhee J, Borotkanics R, Prendergast K, Zinn C, Meredith-Jones K, Taylor R, McLachlan C, Schofield G. Efficacy of a compulsory homework programme for increasing physical activity and improving nutrition in children: a cluster randomised controlled trial. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. 2019;16(1):80.

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number U02MC31613, MCH Advanced Education Policy, $3.5 M. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.