The LiiNK Project has been collecting data for the past five and a half years. Our journey began with two private schools in 2014 and then advanced to two public school districts in 2015 – four total schools. In 2016 and each year after, we have added more districts and more schools within districts. Now, in our 6th year, we are really studying the longer term impact of the program on the children. We have been examining the cognitive, social and emotional, behavioral, and physical elements of the children twice a year over the length of the program.
One of the measures is Dual Task Listening Effort Paradigm (Wagner, Torgesen, Rashotte, & Pearson, 2013). This computer assessment measures the children’s reaction time of a simple task while being distracted by a secondary task. This task is measured twice in one day. Faster reaction time indicates less listening/attentional fatigue in the morning or afternoon.
We also analyze the school math and reading assessments from three different time points given throughout the year.
Spatial Memory is the last measure we use to examine the cognitive progress of the children.
- Math & Reading are not negatively impacted; by 4th grade LiiNK students are 10% higher in math, 3% higher in reading comprehension over traditional school students on STAAR
- LiiNK children have more brain power and energy while traditional school children show more fatigue, both daily and throughout the year
Social & Emotional
A social and character development assessment (xSEL Lab) is used to measure social-emotional skills in grades K-3 children with age-appropriate tasks. It is a norm-referenced measurement that directly assesses children’s understanding of others’ emotions and perspectives, their social problem-solving skills, and their self-control (McKown et al., 2013).
We also measure emotion through observation of positive and not positive verbal and non-verbal cues.
These behaviors are measured through observations using our own measure called LiiNK Classroom Observation Tool (L-COT). We monitor how many times students fidget, move around the room, stare in space, and visit with someone else while trying to do their work in the classroom. The comparison schools are matched demographically to each LiiNK school in the same school district. The comparison schools are doing business as usual – whatever the district requirements are, they continue to do. There is no character curriculum taught daily or more than 2 unstructured play breaks.
- LiiNK children improve on-task behaviors up to 40% while traditional improve 0-2%
- LiiNK children significantly improve prosocial behaviors, honesty, empathy and decrease bullying over traditional school children
- ADHD is masked in early grade levels; we are assessing whether less children are taking ADHD medications as a result of increased unstructured, outdoor play breaks daily
- Increase in happiness, resiliency and decrease in absences and discipline
Accelerometers worn by children and teachers.
Body Mass Index (BMI) – height/weight ratio.
Bio-Impedance Scale Measure – we have just completed a pilot study and found a 26% discrepancy between the BMI determination of overweight/obese status vs % muscle mass/fat mass identifying an in-weight % for the students. These preliminary results are showing that BMI is not as reliable or predictable when children are more active throughout the day in the schools. More results will be forthcoming.
- 7% drop in LiiNK overweight/obese children over three years while control overweight/obese children increase 17% over three years
- Decrease in nurses visits
Arlington ISD Kindergarten Teacher
“I have several students, but one child in particular, who will make sure that everyone on the playground has someone to play with. Almost every day you’ll see him approach someone who needs a friend to play with and ask, ‘hey do you want to come play with me?’ or ‘want to join in with our game?”
Little Elm ISD 1st Grade Teacher
“My group doesn’t really struggle with getting upset, or maybe having a meltdown, or maybe they just need a minute to readjust. They have time to go outside and play, and by the time they get back they’re over it and they’re back to work.”
Chattanooga 5th Grade Teacher
"This is my fourteenth year of teaching. I love the LiiNK Project. But at first, my thinking was 'How am I going to fit everything into the time that I need to get done?' As I relaxed about that, so did the students. Now we come in from recess and they beat me into the room. They're already working by the time I walk in."