Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Degree Level



Health, Human Performance and Recreation


Howie-Hickey, Erin

Committee Member/Reader

Gallagher, Kaitlin


Introduction: Because physical activity is beneficial for physical and mental health, the declining opportunities to implement adequate recesses in schools are devastating for children. If educational outcomes are positively affected by increased recess time or quality, schools are more likely to receive funding for programs and resources that support this renovation to recesses, providing research in lacking topics. Purpose: The purpose of this systematic review is to find related, academic articles for cross examination of data collected on the effects that recess has on educational outcomes so that schools may use this as a resource to receive funding to increase the opportunities for activities in school. Methods: Conducting the systematic review was done according to PRISMA guidelines and PROSPERO protocol. The summarized steps for completing this systematic review are in order, as follows: article selections, extraction of information, quality and bias analysis using GRADE, consolidating data from the remaining articles, comparing data, and identifying basic trends. Results: Among the 12 articles reviewed, selected, and filtered, the results tended to have increased recess time and/or quality as an association with the improvement of educational outcomes. Across the 12 studies, all were cross-sectional studies or longitudinal, and all except one were conducted on participants in the United States; the outlier was conducted in Spain. The role and number of participants studied varied across articles from six teachers to 11,624 students but all studied elementary school children. The articles investigated different components of educational outcomes such as, improved academics, controlled classroom environment, refined cognitive skills, enhanced performance on school aptitude tests, and improved social behavior, reduced classroom distractions. Results were supported by a variety of both qualitative and quantitative data, such as recess grading scales, teacher interviews, academic performance, and classroom observations. Discussion: Overall, recess tended to show a positive association with educational outcomes. These positive associations may be an asset to justifying the funding for programs and resources that increase recess and overall physical activity in elementary school students.


educational outcomes, elementary, recess, cognition, academic performance, behavior