22 SES 03 E, Innovative Perspectives on Teaching and Learning
An important part of learning performance is influenced by individual characteristics. One of those are the environmental influences determined by lifestyle. We call these influences biological lifestyle factors (BLFs). Physical activity, sleep and nutrition are such BLFs and they contribute to brain health, cognitive performance and learning performance in traditional education in children and adolescents. Little research, however, has been conducted concerning these BLFs in adults participating in distance education, despite that this type of education is more and more in favor because of the freedom it offers that allows combining it with the demanding work life, family responsibilities (e.g., a partner and/or children) and the need for ongoing development in adult life. Knowledge on how lifestyle could contribute to learning performance in adults is highly desirable as it could increase the success of adults participating in distance education. Besides, advice on lifestyle changes are relatively cheap interventions of which benefits could be substantial (Ribeiro & Stickgold, 2014).
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle does not only result in a better physical and mental health state (Busch, Van Stel, Schrijvers, & de Leeuw, 2013), but also leads to better cognitive performance (Small et al., 2006). Research indicates that a healthy lifestyle is beneficial for cognition and learning, as suggested by research in the domain of physical activity (PA) (e.g., Hillman, Kamijo, & Scudder, 2011), sleep (e.g., Dewald, Meijer, Oort, Kerkhof, & Bögels, 2010; Philip et al., 2012) and nutrition (e.g., Burkhalter & Hillman, 2011; Deliens, Clarys, De Bourdeaudhuij, & Deforche, 2013).
These examples provide the theoretical framework for the execution of this PhD project as PA, sleep and nutrition are all three factors that influence the body in a biological way. They exert influence on the regulation of the body’s physiological parameters and the subsequent processes. We will not go into detail on these underlying processes in this proposal because of briefness, but we refer to the following literature (cf., Gómez-Pinilla, 2008; van Praag, 2009; Winter et al., 2007; Wright et al., 2013). These, by lifestyle induced, physiological changes influence processes among which are synaptic pruning, synaptic plasticity and neuronal proliferation. These all contribute to brain plasticity, which is believed to be the basis for better cognitive and learning performance (e.g., Barenberg, Berse, & Dutke, 2011).
This led us to investigate the following main research question in an educational setting different than traditional education for children, namely adult distance education: What are the characteristics of adult distance education with respect to dropout and success?; What is the relation(s) between behavior on BLFs on the one hand and cognition and learning performance on the other? The objectives of the PhD project were: (1) to elaborate on the relation of the variables within each BLF with learning performance, but also combining these relations into one model predicting learning performance; (2) to elaborate on the relation of the variables within each BLF with cognitive performance, but also combining these relations into one model predicting cognitive performance; (3) to investigate whether cognitive performance was a mediator in the relation between the BLFs and learning performance.
The research proposed to be presented here, stems from a PhD project that will be finished at the time of the conference. The results from the first five, already available, empirical research articles will be presented in a concise but clear manner. One more research article is expected to follow in the future and will most likely be available at the conference and included in the paper presentation.
Barenberg, J.,Berse, T.,& Dutke, S. (2011). Executive functions in learning processes: Do they benefit from physical activity? Educational Research Review, 6(3), 208–222. Burkhalter, T.M.,& Hillman, C.H. (2011). A narrative review of physical activity, nutrition, and obesity to cognition and scholastic performance across the human lifespan. Advances in Nutrition, 2(2), 201S–6S. Busch, V.,Van Stel, H.F.,Schrijvers, A.J.P.,& de Leeuw, J.R.J. (2013). Clustering of health-related behaviors, health outcomes and demographics in Dutch adolescents: A cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health, 13, 1118. Deliens, T.,Clarys, P.,De Bourdeaudhuij, I.,& Deforche, B. (2013). Weight, socio-demographics, and health behaviour related correlates of academic performance in first year university students. Nutrition Journal, 12, 162. Dewald, J.F.,Meijer, A.M.,Oort, F.J.,Kerkhof, G.A.,& Bögels, S.M. (2010). The influence of sleep quality, sleep duration and sleepiness on school performance in children and adolescents: A meta-analytic review. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 14(3), 179–89. Gómez-Pinilla, F. (2008). Brain foods: The effects of nutrients on brain function. Nature Reviews. Neuroscience, 9(7), 568–78. Hillman, C.H.,Kamijo, K.,& Scudder, M. (2011). A review of chronic and acute physical activity participation on neuroelectric measures of brain health and cognition during childhood. Preventive Medicine, 52, S21–8. Horzum, M.B.,Önder, İ.,& Beşoluk, Ş. (2014). Chronotype and academic achievement among online learning students. Learning and Individual Differences, 30, 106–111. Jovanovski, D.,& Bassili, J.N. (2007). The relationship between morningness - eveningness preference and online learning. Biological Rhythm Research, 38(5), 355–365. Neroni, J., Gijselaers, H. J. M., Kirschner, P. A., & de Groot, R. H. M. (2015). The Adult Learning Open University Determinants (ALOUD) study: Biological and psychological factors associated with learning performance in adult distance education. British Journal of Educational Technology, Early view. http://doi.org/10.1111/bjet.12288 Önder, İ.,Horzum, M.B.,& Beşoluk, Ş. (2011). Chronotype, learning approach, type/time of instruction and academic achievement of the university students. Circadian Rhythms (pp. 161–186). Nova Science Publishers, Inc. Philip, P.,Sagaspe, P.,Prague, M.,Tassi, P.,Capelli, A.,Bioulac, B.,… Taillard, J. (2012). Acute versus chronic partial sleep deprivation in middle-aged people: differential effect on performance and sleepiness. Sleep, 35(7), 997–1002. Ribeiro, S.,& Stickgold, R. (2014). Sleep and school education. Trends in Neuroscience and Education, 3(1), 18–23. Small, G.W.,Silverman, D.H.S.,Siddarth, P.,Ercoli, L.M.,Miller, K.J.,Lavretsky, H., … Phelps, M. E. (2006). Effects of a 14-day healthy longevity lifestyle program on cognition and brain function. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 14(6), 538–45. Taylor, D.J. http://doi.org/10.1080/15402002.2011.602776 Van Praag, H. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.tins.2008.12.007 Winter, B. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.nlm.2006.11.003 Wright, K.P. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2013.06.039
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