New research from Texas A&M University has found that students who stand at their desks are better able to stay on task than those who stay seated during school hours.
The study looked at 282 participants in grades 2-4 across an entire school year. Researchers measured student engagement through a number of actions including answering a question, raising a hand, or participating in a discussion, writes Dian Schaffhauser for Campus Technology.
While both groups of students (those who used the standing desks and those who did not) showed increased academic engagement over the course of the year, results show that students who used the standing desks were able to improve their concentration while in class by 12%.
Standing desks are taller than traditional desks. For the study, researchers made stools available for children to decide whether or not they would like to sit or stand.
Team member Mark Benden, an ergonomic engineer and co-founder of start-up Stand2Learn, a seller of stand-up desks and stools, was initially interested in the devices as a way to reduce childhood obesity and have less stress be placed on the spine. Benden said previous research showed that students who use standing desks burn 15% more calories than those who sit. In some cases, that percentage went up, depending on the weight of the child.
“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,” he said in a statement. “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.”
He added that schools that choose to use the desks can put an end to two problems: keeping students engaged and reducing childhood obesity.
Vallecito Elementary in San Rafael, California recently exchanged their traditional desks for the stand up models in four classrooms. While students initially were not too sure about the changes, many of them have begun to like the new desks.
“You can get your bones stretched out and you don’t, like, want to get it stretched in together again,” 1st grader Marley Metzger explained. To which 4th grader Lola Maggioncalta adds, “To me it’s really fun and it makes me more focused.”
Teachers at the school agree. They report students who use the desks are calmer and pay more attention during instruction time. Parents say their children are sleeping better at night.