Yiyu Wang, M.S.
In the real world, students are required to be competitive to face more challenges in the future as tension increases in energy, finance, territory and human resource. The huge amount of homework is assigned to students in order to help students achieve their goal and face a challenging future. Traditionally, teachers and parents believe that study achievement is equal to time spent in homework or assignments. People often overlook the function of physical activity (PA) as stimuli to enhance children’s cognitive ability and motor learning. This neglect of PA is very common among Asian culture. People living in Asian countries used to think that time spent in PA would negatively influence students’ academic performance because people believe that body and brain are developed separately. Increased homework burden means students have less time spent in entertainment and PA. As a result of increased time spent in homework, students’ behavior or lifestyle appears to be a trend of sedentary. Based on a large number of scientific findings, physical inactivity or sedentary lifestyles can lead to an increased risk of all-caused chronic diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular dysfunction, and psycho-social problems. All of these factors can cause poor human performance either physically or mentally. Specifically, research evidence indicated that childhood obesity resulting from physical inactivity is associated with poor cognitive ability and motor skills. Ironically, both cognitive ability and motor skills have been shown to positively relate to academic performance. In other words, physically fitter children tend to have better academic achievement than physically unfit children. Also, intense levels of engaged PA can lead to academic performance differently. This scientific finding absolutely contradicts the traditional view of PA effects on school achievement, suggesting that students should spend at least 60 minutes daily on moderate and vigorous PA. Cognitive function and motor skill both have been shown to improve with PA activity intervention, which provides us a theoretical basis to believe that PA can contribute to better academic achievement rather than attenuate academic achievement.
Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) investigated high school students’ academic performance from 70 nations in the world. The results showed students performed differently in different countries due to a variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Cultural and ethnic differences have been identified to affect individuals’ physical activity behavior, selfesteem, self-regulation, motor action, and cognitive function. It is worthy to know the academic difference in school-aged students affected by culture and ethnicity. The findings from studying cultural and ethnic differences in cognitive function, motor skills and academic performance will provide teachers with a good idea of how to teach or coach students to be successful in school and society.