Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Education Specialist (Ed.S.)

Degree Granting Department

Psychological and Social Foundations

Major Professor

Julia A. Ogg, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

John Ferron, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kathy Bradley-Klug, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Marcus Kilpatrick, Ph.D.


Single case design, meta-analysis, physical activity, youth, cognition, academic achievement, behavioral outcomes


A third of youth in the United States are currently classified as overweight, which is impacted by the low rates of youth that meet daily physical activity recommendations. Engaging in physical activity contributes to healthy body weight and physical fitness, both of which have positive health consequences. Participating in physical activity not only aids in positive health outcomes, but research indicates that it also has a positive relationship with and effect on youths’ cognitive, academic, and behavioral outcomes. The majority of researchers conducting meta-analyses examining the effect of physical activity on youths’ cognitive, academic, and behavioral outcomes have excluded single-case design research from the data analyses. Excluding these types of designs from syntheses of the research may create an inaccurate account of the effect of physical activity on youths’ cognitive, academic, and behavioral outcomes. The current study addressed these issues by conducting a meta-analysis of single-case design studies over approximately the past 50 years to add to the current understanding of the effect of physical activity on youths’ cognitive, academic, and behavioral outcomes. Additionally, moderator analyses were conducted on numerous participant, intervention, and study characteristics that were deemed important, as indicated in the literature review. The effect size of physical activity on youths’ academic and behavioral outcomes was determined by utilizing hierarchical linear modeling of the included 81 time series from 15 single-case design studies. There were not enough data to calculate the effect size on youths’ cognitive outcomes. Significant effect sizes were found that indicate physical activity has an effect on increasing youths’ desirable behaviors (e.g.on task behavior and social skills) and decreasing youths’ undesirable behaviors (e.g. self stimulation, self-injurious behaviors, and off task behavior; ES = 1.83), as well as, increasing work completion, (ES = 2.01). No moderating effects were found other than the type of single case design moderated the effect on youths’ behavioral outcomes. The current study is important for decision makers in schools when deciding whether to increase or decrease particular students’ time spent in physical activity. Additionally, the results of the study are pertinent to other practitioners who work with youth, parents, and for youth themselves so that they can utilize physical activity interventions to help with appropriate behaviors and work completion.