The Influence of a Recess Intervention on Children’s Sense of Belonging and Enjoyment

Lauren McNamara, Jenny Gibson, Yana Lakman, Natalie Spadafora, Ken Lodewyk, Meaghan Walker


School climate has long been understood to influence student success, yet the social climate and playspace of recess is often overlooked in overall school improvement efforts. The Recess Project is a collaborative action research project that aims to improve the social climate of recess through fostering a sense of belonging and enjoyment. We report a mixed-methods exploratory evaluation of the project based on survey data from 784 students in grades 4-8. Quantitative analysis compared scores for belonging and enjoyment between children who attended Recess Project (RP) schools and those who did not NRP. The RP group reported more enjoyment than the NRP group, while sense of belonging was not significantly different between groups. Belonging and positive affect were positively associated with enjoyment scores in both groups, however, these associations were stronger in the RP group. Qualitative analyses revealed children enjoyed recess for the opportunity to socialise and to have autonomy over their activities. Children who did not enjoy recess reported boredom, bad weather and experiences of victimisation. We discuss the implications for future work on improving the quality of the social climate of recess.

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