When coffee and power naps fail to keep students actively engaged in class, the next best strategy could be to ditch the use of the standard classroom chair. Exercise science major Nani Ostrom has introduced the use of stability balls to the learning environment in Pacific University classrooms for her senior capstone project.
While carrying out her courses, Ostrom became particularly interested in active learning studies. Research based in classroom settings compelled her to investigate the effect stability balls would have on student engagement. She wanted to make observations to see if the use of stability balls would help students be more engaged and stay on task in class.
Her project gave students from three different classes the opportunity to swap their chair for a large, bouncy stability ball for the duration of winter term. She filmed every class to assess the physical active engagement of students. At the end of each class time, she had participants rate how comfortable, energetic and involved they felt after using a stability ball.
Students involved in the study responded positively to Ostrom’s experiment. Participants expressed that “it was a cool and unique experience.”
Ostrom said she is still compiling the final results of her project and should her results support stability ball use, she suggests students have the option to use stability balls in order to maximize their learning experience.