Observation of Classroom Performance Using Therapy Balls as a Substitute for Chairs in Elementary School Children

Molly E Burgoyne, Caroline J Ketcham


Many classrooms are beginning to substitute standard chairs with therapy balls, which help to improve students’ focus and classroom performance, according to teacher and student reports. Researchers conducted an observational study in a classroom at a local elementary school that implemented therapy balls. For each hour-long observation, three independent researchers marked seated behaviors of students (N=19). The first observation was conducted when students were using standard chairs, and two more were conducted when students used therapy balls during classroom activities. Researchers observed the behaviors of students on the given seating device, including academic task (on/off task), effort level, attitude, interactions, seated behavior (bouncing/rocking/stationary/other), and intensity level of participation in classroom activities. Analysis of the collected data demonstrates that 50% of observations when students were seated on standard chairs indicated on task behavior, while 85% of observations when students were seated on therapy balls were recorded as on task behavior. In addition, movement while seated increased on the therapy balls (35% of observations indicated stationary seated behavior) compared to the standard chairs (47% observations indicated stationary seated behavior). The increased rocking and bouncing seated behavior on the therapy balls suggests that the seating device helps to engage the vestibular system. In addition, stationary behavior on therapy balls was often classified as proprioceptive. The results from the observational study will allow researchers to further investigate whether or not engaging the vestibular system can help to improve performance on functional school skills.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11114/jets.v3i4.730


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Journal of Education and Training Studies  ISSN 2324-805X (Print)   ISSN 2324-8068 (Online)

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