Impact and Implementation Findings from an Experimental Evaluation of Playworks: Effects on School Climate, Academic Learning, Student Social Skills and Behavior
The following significant, positive impacts of Playworks were found:
- There was a positive impact of Playworks on teachers’ reports of students using positive, encouraging language; teachers’ perceptions of the extent to which students felt safe at school; and teachers’ perceptions of the extent to which students felt safe and included during recess. Teachers in treatment schools were also significantly more likely than teachers in control schools to report that school staff support organized play during the school day.
- Teachers in treatment schools reported less bullying and exclusionary behavior than teachers in control schools.
- Teachers in treatment schools were less likely to report difficulties in transitioning to classroom learning activities after recess and reported taking significantly less time to transition from recess to learning activities than teachers in control schools. Treatment students were also more likely than control students to report better behavior and attention in class after sports, games and play.
The following key implementation findings were observed:
- Strong implementation occurred in 8 of 17 treatment schools and moderate implementation occurred in another 6 schools. Three schools had weak implementation.
- Playworks implementation was stronger in schools that had recess in the past.
- Most teachers, students and principals had positive perceptions of the Playworks program.
Recess periods often lack the structure needed to support physical activity and positive social development (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation 2010). The Playworks program places full-time coaches in low-income schools to provide opportunities for organized play during recess and throughout the school day. Playworks activities are designed to engage students in physical activity, foster social skills related to cooperation and conflict resolution, improve students’ ability to focus on class work, decrease behavioral problems and improve school climate.