Mr Nick Riley
School of Education (Education)
- Phone:(02) 4985 4254
Let's get physical
Nick Riley believes integrating physical activity into core school subjects can improve not only students' health but their behaviour and their academic performance.
The idea that classroom learning and physical education can be complementary is the concept behind a novel PhD project being conducted by Nick Riley, a lecturer in the School of Education and researcher with the Faculty's new Priority Research Centre in Physical Activity and Nutrition.
"There are lot of health benefits that come from increased activity and there is a lot of research that suggests that active children actually have the potential to perform better cognitively and academically," Riley says.
Riley, who trained in physical education but spent 18 years as a classroom teacher in primary schools in the north of England, has developed a program called EASY Minds (Encouraging Activity to Stimulate Young Minds) as a research project.
His program integrates physical activity into maths, English, science and HISE (history/social science) lessons. Riley has completed a feasibility study in one school and will repeat the program across four schools in a pilot study next year.
For the initial study he went into a school three times a week over a six-week period and taught hour-long lessons in core subjects, employing physical activity as a learning tool.
"If I was teaching multiplication, for example, rather than have the students do an exercise on paper, I might take them outside and time them running over 20 metres then get them to calculate how long it would take them to run 100 metres, or 90 metres, using that information," Riley explains.
"Or, rather than measuring area and perimeter in a book, they might go out and measure the area and perimeter of the playground.
"It's still a maths lesson but it integrates physical activity, and because the kids have ownership of the data, they are more engaged in the exercise."
The children in the study wear an accelerometer, a device that records their activity levels, over the school week.
The primary aim of the intervention program is to increase daily activity but Riley says it can influence classroom behaviour and self-esteem as well.
While all children responded well in the feasibility study, Riley says integrated activity can be particularly beneficial for kinesthetic, or physically oriented, learners who are more inclined to become disengaged with traditional classroom teaching methods.
"Often they are the kids who end up getting in trouble and get a reputation for being disruptive," he says.
"I believe all kids have huge potential and as educators and teachers we have to find the key to unlock that potential."
Nick has demonstrated teaching excellence and his commitment to quality teaching and learning across a diverse range of courses. He is a highly valued member of the School of Education, specialising in Primary School Health and Physical Education.
Nick won the vice chancellors award for teaching excellence in 2011.Research Expertise
I am currently completing my PhD at the University. My research looks at the integration of physical activity in the primary school mathematics program. The Easy Minds intervention has been successfully designed, developed and evaluated in eight NSW public primary schools in 2013.
Primary School Health and Physical Education I currently teach/coordinate/ lecture on all primary school HPE courses at the University. Cooordinator EDUC2747, EDUC6747, Educ 2058 Teach EDUC2515,EDUC2515, PUBH2030.
- Bachelor of Science (Honours), Lancaster University - England
- Certificate in Education, University of Liverpool - UK
- Certificate III in Information Technolgy, University of Central Lancashire
- Health and Physical Education
- Movement-based Learning
- Physical Activity
- Primary School
- Sedentary Behaviour
- Student engagement
Fields of Research
|130105||Primary Education (excl. Maori)||90|
|Title||Organisation / Department|
|Lecturer||University of Newcastle
School of Education
|Dates||Title||Organisation / Department|
|1/09/2001 - 1/12/2007||Teacher Adviser||Local Education Authority
Vice Chancellors award for teaching excellence
University of Newcastle
|Year||Title / Rationale|
Organisation: Sport and Recreation Annual Conference Description: Integrating Maths in Ourdoor Education Centres
Organisation: Academic Performance and physical Activity Description: ACHPER Regional Conferences March Western Sydney. July- Central Coast Sept- Mid Noth Coast Coffs Harbour
For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.
Journal article (4 outputs)
Riley N, Lubans DR, Holmes K, Morgan PJ, 'Findings From the EASY Minds Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial: Evaluation of a Physical Activity Integration Program for Mathematics in Primary Schools.', J Phys Act Health, (2015)
Riley N, Lubans DR, Morgan PJ, Young M, 'Outcomes and process evaluation of a programme integrating physical activity into the primary school mathematics curriculum: The EASY Minds pilot randomised controlled trial', Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, (2014)
Objectives: This study evaluated the feasibility of the 'Encouraging Activity to Stimulate Young (EASY) Minds' programme, a school-based intervention for integrating physical acti... [more]
Objectives: This study evaluated the feasibility of the 'Encouraging Activity to Stimulate Young (EASY) Minds' programme, a school-based intervention for integrating physical activity (PA) into mathematics lessons. Design: Randomised controlled trial. Methods: Two classes from a single school (n = 54) were randomised to receive either the 6-week EASY Minds intervention (n = 27) or follow their usual school programme (n = 27). The intervention involved the embedding of PA across the pre-existing mathematics programme for 3. Ã. 60. min sessions per week. Changes in PA were measured using accelerometers and 'on task' behaviour was measured using momentary time sampling observation. Results: Using intention-to-treat analysis, significant intervention effects were found for MVPA (9.7%, 95%CI = 7.6, 11.8, p =. 0.001) and sedentary time (-22.4%, CI = -24.9, -12.2, p =. 0.001) for the intervention group during Mathematics lessons (9.30am-10.30am). Significant intervention effects were also shown for MVPA 8.7% (95% CI = 5.8, 11.6, p =. 0.001 and sedentary time -18.6% (95% CI = -24.9, -12.2, p =. 0.001) across the whole school day. Furthermore, children displayed significantly greater 'on-task' behaviour across the intervention period with a 19.9% (95%CI = 2.4, 37.4, p =. 0.03) mean difference between groups. Conclusions: The EASY Minds programme demonstrated that integrating movement across the primary mathematics syllabus is feasible and efficacious in enhancing school based-PA and improving on-task behaviour in mathematics lessons.
Riley N, Lubans DR, Holmes K, Morgan PJ, 'Rationale and study protocol of the EASY Minds (Encouraging Activity to Stimulate Young Minds) program: cluster randomized controlled trial of a primary school-based physical activity integration program for mathematics.', BMC Public Health, 14 816 (2014) [C3]
Lubans DR, Morgan PJ, Callister R, Plotnikoff RC, Eather N, Riley N, Smith CJ, 'Test-retest reliability of a battery of field-based health-related fitness measures for adolescents', Journal of Sports Sciences, 29 685-693 (2011) [C1]
|Show 1 more journal article|
Conference (4 outputs)
Riley N, Morgan PJ, Lubans DR, 'Preliminary findings of the E.A.S.Y. (Encouraging Activity to Stimulate Young) Minds feasibility study: A curriculum-based physical activity integration program in the primary school', Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, Sydney, Australia (2012) [E3]
Riley N, Morgan PJ, Lubans DR, 'Methodology of the E.A.S.Y. (Encouraging Activity to Stimulate Young) minds study: evaluation of a curriculum-based physical activity integration program in the primary school', 2011 Annual Meeting of the International Society for Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity (ISBNPA) eProceedings, Melbourne, VIC (2011) [E3]
Riley N, Morgan PJ, Lubans DR, 'Rationale and intervention description of a primary school-based program to integrate physical activity across the curriculum and engage children in movement-based learning', Obesity Research and Clinical Practice, Sydney, NSW (2010) [E3]
|2009||Riley N, 'Rationale and intervention description of a primary school-based program to integrate physical activity across the curriculum and engage parents in movement-based learning at home', Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, Brisbane, QLD (2009) [E3]|
|Show 1 more conference|
Grants and Funding
|Number of grants||1|
Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.
20121 grants / $54,568
Thinking while moving: Development of a curriculum-based physical activity integration program in the primary school$54,568
Funding body: NSW Department of Education and Communities
|Funding body||NSW Department of Education and Communities|
|Project Team||Professor Philip Morgan, Professor David Lubans, Mr Nick Riley, Doctor Kathryn Holmes|
|Type Of Funding||Other Public Sector - State|