As we move into shorter days and cooler mornings it is often difficult to convince ourselves that physical activity is really necessary. I was disappointed to read the articles and the angles taken in the last few weeks about young women and adolescent girls leaving team sports.
As the significant adults in our students’ lives, we must lead by example and insist they stay active and engaged. We must urge them to develop and practice self-regulation and model for them good habits. Competitive sport is not for everyone, and I am very aware sport and physical activity can take many forms. High performing students tend to have adults who have taught them to regulate their own behaviours and learning and also tend to have a balance of activities across their day and year.
Recent research undertaken to investigate the habits and learning behaviours of high performing students supports this observation. For many teachers, this will confirm what they visibly see of such students every day in the classroom.
The research revealed high performing students in Years 5-8 exhibit greater self-regulated behaviours and learning skills.
Students who are able to regulate their own learning can modify and monitor their behaviour using metacognition, motivation, self-awareness, and self-efficacy to reach a desired learning outcome. Students who can regulate their learning are proposed to gain the most out of education, because their motivations and strategies are focused on learning rather than on receiving external rewards.
As part of the study, Realising the Potential of Australia’s High Capacity Students, conducted by the Assessment Research Centre in the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, students in Years 5-8 answered a questionnaire designed to capture their physical and learning motivations and self-regulated behaviour and learning strategies.
The research found that students who were regulating their own behaviour and learning were setting challenging goals for themselves, reflecting on their plans and adapting them when needed (such as finding a suitable form of physical activity during the long Canberra winter). When they encountered difficult tasks, they used automated regulation processes so they could be successful. When they became distracted, they found ways to refocus – in many cases, through some form of physical engagement. These students valued learning in and of itself and understood their own approaches to learning in ways that allowed them to take advantage of the learning experience.
Good study habits and learning behaviours develop over time at school and is not something a student can just switch on once in their senior years.
At Canberra Girls Grammar School, we don’t subscribe to the assumption that girls will disengage with sport during their teenage years. Physical education is an essential part of our liberal offering at Girls Grammar and we strive to ensure students understand the importance of staying physically active throughout their lives.
In this edition of the eNews you will read more about the School’s philosophy on physical activity and how we encourage all students to strike a balance, one that supports their academic pursuits while enabling them to develop skills that can be applied throughout their schooling and beyond.
 Harding., S., Griffin., P., Graham., L., English., N., Nibali., N., & Alom, BM. (2018). Findings and recommendations from realising the potential for Australia’s high capacity students. Assessment Research Centre, Melbourne Graduate School of Education.