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Dr Nick Riley

Lecturer

School of Education (Education)

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.

Nick Riley

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 Riley

Let's get physical

Riley believes integrating physical activity into core school subjects can improve not only students' health but their behaviour and their academic performance.

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Career Summary

Biography

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

Nick has recently completed his PhD study. The EASY (Encouraging Activity to Stimulate Young) Minds program was a highly successful school-based intervention that integrated physical activity across the Primary school mathematics curriculum that successfully enhanced both learning and health outcomes and was supported by a grant from the Department of Education school sport unit. This led to the development of an online resource for teachers including promotional videos and lesson ideas.

These resources are available at https://online.det.nsw.edu.au/psc/programs/getActiveInMiddleYears.html

This was followed by a grant for the dissemination of the program. In 2015 over 170 teachers attended 8 one day professional learning workshops delivered across NSW areas including Sydney, Coffs Harbour, Wagga Wagga and Bathurst. In 2016  a further 8 workshops are taking place that target teachers interested in integrating physical activity into their classroom teaching of mathematics. Details can be found at http://www.sports.det.nsw.edu.au/tpl/2016/sport.php

Teachers attending acquire research based teaching ideas, resources and practice classroom management skills to engage students more effectively in mathematics by including physical activity in the context of maths lessons. They also gain an understanding of the potential benefits integration can bring to the teaching of other KLAs.

The NSW Department of Education   is currently implementing Dr Riley's PhD work through a pilot study known as 'Thinking While Moving'.  They have recently awarded an additional grant to Dr Riley, Professor Morgan, and Professor Lubans to examine the effect of active mathematics lessons on cognitive/executive functioning.



Teaching Expertise
Primary School Health and Physical Education I currently teach/coordinate/ lecture on all primary school HPE courses at the University. Coordinator EDUC2747, EDUC6747, EDUC 2058 Teach EDUC2515,EDUC2515, PUBH1030.


Qualifications

  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Newcastle
  • Bachelor of Science (Honours), Lancaster University - England
  • Certificate in Education, University of Liverpool - UK
  • Certificate III in Information Technolgy, University of Central Lancashire

Keywords

  • Health and Physical Education
  • Movement-based Learning
  • Physical Activity
  • Primary School
  • Sedentary Behaviour
  • Student engagement

Fields of Research

Code Description Percentage
130105 Primary Education (excl. Maori) 90
130106 Secondary Education 10

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

Title Organisation / Department
Lecturer University of Newcastle
School of Education
Australia

Professional appointment

Dates Title Organisation / Department
1/09/2001 - 1/12/2007 Teacher Adviser Local Education Authority
Australia

Awards

Recognition

Year Award
2011 Vice Chancellors award for teaching excellence
University of Newcastle

Invitations

Keynote Speaker

Year Title / Rationale
2014 Myuna Bay
Organisation: Sport and Recreation Annual Conference Description: Integrating Maths in Ourdoor Education Centres
2013 ACHPER
Organisation: Academic Performance and physical Activity Description: ACHPER Regional Conferences March Western Sydney. July- Central Coast Sept- Mid Noth Coast Coffs Harbour
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Publications

For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.


Journal article (3 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2016 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, 13 198-206 (2016)
DOI 10.1123/jpah.2015-0046
Co-authors David Lubans, Philip Morgan
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, 18 656-661 (2015) [C1]
DOI 10.1016/j.jsams.2014.09.005
Citations Scopus - 3
Co-authors Philip Morgan, David Lubans, Myles Young
2011 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]
DOI 10.1080/02640414.2010.551215
Citations Scopus - 22Web of Science - 18
Co-authors Robin Callister, David Lubans, Ron Plotnikoff, Narelle Eather, Philip Morgan

Conference (4 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2012 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 (2012) [E3]
Co-authors David Lubans, Philip Morgan
2011 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 (2011) [E3]
Co-authors David Lubans, Philip Morgan
2010 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 (2010) [E3]
Co-authors Philip Morgan, David Lubans
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 (2009) [E3]
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Grants and Funding

Summary

Number of grants 2
Total funding $124,568

Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.


20161 grants / $70,000

Thinking while Moving (EASY Minds)$70,000

Funding body: Department of Education

Funding body Department of Education
Project Team Doctor Nick Riley, Professor Philip Morgan, Professor David Lubans
Scheme NSW School Support Unit
Role Lead
Funding Start 2016
Funding Finish 2016
GNo G1600482
Type Of Funding Other Public Sector - Commonwealth
Category 2OPC
UON Y

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, Doctor Nick Riley, Associate Professor Kathryn Holmes
Scheme Research Grant
Role Investigator
Funding Start 2012
Funding Finish 2013
GNo G1201201
Type Of Funding Other Public Sector - State
Category 2OPS
UON Y
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Dr Nick Riley

Position

Lecturer
School of Education
Faculty of Education and Arts

Focus area

Education

Contact Details

Email nicholas.riley@newcastle.edu.au
Phone (02) 4985 4254
Fax (02) 4985 4254

Office

Room HPE311
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