A Mixed-Methods Evaluation of School-Based Active Living Programs
McCreary, Linda L.
Gi Park, Chang
McElmurry, Beverly J.
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Background: School-based programs combating childhood obesity often lack resources to incorporate strong evaluation components. This paper describes a collaborative evaluation conducted by partners implementing Active Living by Design (ALbD) programs at one Chicago elementary school. Purpose: To assess ALbD program outcomes by triangulating various forms of evidence gathered while implementing these programs. Methods: An exploratory, mixed-methods design was used to collect and analyze data from numerous physical activity (PA) initiatives implemented at the school from 2004-2009. The researchers triangulated quantitative (student BMI data, student standardized test and discipline data, classroom PA logs, and student PA knowledge surveys) and qualitative (classroom PA logs and open-ended teacher surveys questions) findings to assess outcomes. Results: Students continuously enrolled at this school from 1st through 4th grades, those most exposed to ALbD activities over time, had significantly lower BMI after 4 years, compared with peers who transferred to the school after 1st grade. Student achievement on standardized tests improved between 2004 (prior to initiating ALbD activities) and 2008. Visits to the Disciplinary Office dropped dramatically over the 4-year period. Teacher interviews and surveys and classroom Take 10! activity logs revealed that the Take 10! Program was implemented enthusiastically by all grades. The Physical Activity Knowledge Survey revealed a significant increase in PA knowledge after instituting these activities. Conclusion: Collaborative efforts to amass and analyze a variety of data demonstrated the effects of implementing a variety of health promotion activities in one school, documenting the growth of a “culture of health” in that school community.