Write standing: It worked for Woolf. Hemingway. Roth. Why not you?
|Thomas Jefferson and his stand-up desk.|
As did Charles Dickens.
And Winston Churchill.
Add to that Vladimir Nabokov and Virginia Woolf.
Plus Ernest Hemingway.
What are we waiting for?
* * * * *
New study indicates students' cognitive
functioning improves when using standing desks
Donald Rumsfeld. (Okay,
so not a writer. But he
Do students think best when on their feet? New findings provide the first evidence of neurocognitive benefits of stand-height desks in classrooms. These findings provide the first evidence of neurocognitive benefits of stand-height desks in classrooms, where students are given the choice to stand or sit based on their preferences.
Ranjana Mehta, Ph.D., assistant professor at the Texas A&M School of Public Health, researched freshman high school students with who used standing desks. Testing was performed at the beginning and again at the end of their freshman year.
Through using an experimental design, Mehta explored the neurocognitive benefits using four computerized tests to assess executive functions. Executive functions are cognitive skills we all use to analyze tasks, break them into steps and keep them in mind until we get them done. These skills are directly related to the development of many academic skills that allow students to manage their time effectively, memorize facts, understand what they read, solve multi-step problems and organize their thoughts in writing. Because these functions are largely regulated in the frontal brain regions, a portable brain-imaging device (functional near infrared spectroscopy) was used to examine associated changes in the frontal brain function by placing biosensors on students' foreheads during testing.
"Test results indicated that continued use of standing desks was associated with significant improvements in executive function and working memory capabilities," Mehta said. "Changes in corresponding brain activation patterns were also observed."
|Philip Roth working at his lectern.|
In earlier studies that primarily focused on energy expenditure, teachers observed increased attention and better behavior of students using standing desks. Mehta's research study is the first study not subject to bias or interpretation that objectively exams students' cognitive responses and brain function while using standing desks.
"Interestingly, our research showed the use of standing desks improved neurocognitive function, which is consistent with results from previous studies on school-based exercise programs," Mehta said. "The next step would be to directly compare the neurocognitive benefits of standing desks to school-based exercise programs."
"There has been lots of anecdotal evidence from teachers that students focused and behaved better while using standing desks," added Mark Benden, Ph.D., CPE, co-researcher and director of the Texas A&M Ergonomics Center. "This is the first examination of students' cognitive responses to the standing desks, which to date have focused largely on sedentary time as it relates to childhood obesity."
Ernest Hemingway at his
Continued investigation of this research may have strong implications for policy makers, public health professionals and school administrators to consider simple and sustainable environmental changes in classrooms that can effectively increase energy expenditure and physical activity as well as enhance cognitive development and education outcomes.
Story Source: Reprinted from materials provided by Texas A&M University, original written by Rae Lynn Mitchell. Ranjana Mehta, Ashley Shortz, Mark Benden. Standing Up for Learning: A Pilot Investigation on the Neurocognitive Benefits of Stand-Biased School Desks. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2015.
We think better on our feet, literally
A study from the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health finds students with standing desks are more attentive than their seated counterparts. In fact, preliminary results show 12 percent greater on-task engagement in classrooms with standing desks, which equates to an extra seven minutes per hour of engaged instruction time.
Vladimir Nabokov wrote standing.
The suit and tie is optional.
The findings, published in the International Journal of Health Promotion and Education, were based on a study of almost 300 children in second through fourth grade who were observed over the course of a school year. Engagement was measured by on-task behaviors such as answering a question, raising a hand or participating in active discussion and off-task behaviors like talking out of turn.
Standing desks -- also known as stand-biased desks -- are raised desks that have stools nearby, enabling students to sit or stand during class at their discretion. Mark Benden, Ph.D., CPE, associate professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health, who is an ergonomic engineer by trade, originally became interested in the desks as a means to reduce childhood obesity and relieve stress on spinal structures that may occur with traditional desks. Lessons learned from his research in this area led to creation of Stand2Learn™, an offshoot company of a faculty-led startup that manufactures a classroom version of the stand-biased desk.
Benden's previous studies have shown the desks can help reduce obesity -- with students at standing desks burning 15 percent more calories than students at traditional desks (25 percent for obese children) -- and there was anecdotal evidence that the desks also increased engagement. The latest study was the first designed specifically to look at the impact of classroom engagement.
Benden said he was not surprised at the results of the study, given that previous research has shown that physical activity, even at low levels, may have beneficial effects on cognitive ability.
"Standing workstations reduce disruptive behavior problems and increase students' attention or academic behavioral engagement by providing students with a different method for completing academic tasks (like standing) that breaks up the monotony of seated work," Benden said.
"Considerable research indicates that academic behavioral engagement is the most important contributor to student achievement. Simply put, we think better on our feet than in our seat."
Taking the standing thing too far? Not if it powers your equipment.
The key takeaway from this research, Benden said, is that school districts that put standing desks in classrooms may be able to address two problems at the same time: academic performance and childhood obesity.
Story Source: Materials provided by Texas A&M University, original written by Ellen Davis. Marianela Dornhecker, Jamilia J. Blake, Mark Benden, Hongwei Zhao, Monica Wendel. The effect of stand-biased desks on academic engagement: an exploratory study. International Journal of Health Promotion and Education, 2015.