Motor Lab Research

Action Research Project, Bulverde Elementary School, Comal ISD, Texas
Dr. Denise Kern

In October of 2002, Athena Oden, creator of Ready Bodies, Learning Minds, and Dr. Denise Kern, Principal  of  Bulverde  Elementary  School  in  Comal  Independent  School  District,  began  a  controlled research project into the effectiveness of the motor lab developed by Athena Oden, physical therapist. The motor lab is a prescriptive motor development program that focuses on providing for development of all systems for all children. The program hypothesis is centered on the idea that increased opportunities of motor and sensory experience for the development of the self-­‐organization of skills is a key to academic success and behavior.
The  basic  question  to  be  answered  by  this  research  was:  Do  specific  experiences  in  the  Ready  Bodies motor lab affect reading performance in pre-­‐first grade students?
Two different groups of children were included in the study: those from one elementary school who  used  the  RBLM  motor  lab  on  a  bi-­‐weekly  basis,  and  those  from  a  control  group  of  elementary school students who did not. Each group was tested during October 2002, and re-­‐tested under the same parameters in May of 2003. The results were then tabulated and analyzed by Dr. Denise Kern. Her conclusions were presented during a certification process at The University of Texas at San Antonio.

Data was collected through the use of five different tests:

  • VMI (Beery-­‐Buktenica Developmental Test of Visual-­‐Motor Integration); pre & post tests Ready Bodies, Learning Minds Screening Report; pre & post tests
  • DRA (Developmental Reading Inventories) (Quarterly)
  • TPRI (Texas Primary Reading Inventory) (August and May)
  • Comal ISD Benchmark Reading tests (Quarterly)

While test results are too extensive to present in this forum, some conclusions can be described that show dramatic increase in reading performance. Specifically, in a portion of the research project  which  included  only  pre-­‐first  students  of  both  campuses,  there  was  an  average  70%  increase in reading proficiency in the research group when compared to the control group (according to the DRA test results) over the 7 month period.
Ready  Bodies,  Learning  Minds  collected  data  involving  more  students  and  more  grade  levels  than were analyzed in Dr. Kern’s study. Overall, we see similar results: for example, phonemic awareness of the kindergarten children appears to have been improved by the presence of the motor  lab.  Still,  further  data  analysis  needs  to  be  made  to  document  the  correlation  of  improvement in academic and motor performance.

A PDF of this post is available to download.