The quirky approach to lectures forms part of Robert Gordon University’s “Fit for the Future” initiative, which launched this week with the aim of ensuring a high standard of health and wellbeing across the campus.
Other techniques include experimenting with throwing a football around lectures when getting students to answer questions and calculating how many of the Aberdeen steps need to be climbed to reach the equivalent height of Ben Nevis, Scotland’s highest mountain.
Gil Barton, a lecturer in the School of Health Sciences, has been developing health promotion activities at the university for the last five years and is leading the initiative.
“Most of the published studies around this have only been conducted within primary school setting, and not expanded to the secondary schools or universities,” she said.
“What we wanted to do was have a more active environment so students weren’t sitting in rows of desks.”
This so-called “active classroom” approach has seen gym balls introduced to physiotherapy classes, while in other classes students have been encouraged to walk around while completing their group work.
“We’d ideally like students in the School of Health Sciences to be exposed to at least one active classroom a week.
“Some classes are practical anyway, but it’s around changing the way we teach, and the way students are interacting.”
The university has also dedicated a section of its website to showcasing students’ and staff members’ healthy activities, while information on a range of campus walks has also been developed.
“You can’t do it all the time, and there are times when it would be completely inappropriate to introduce activities to a lecture. However there are other times when you can incorporate all these ideas to energise your teaching,” she said.
RGU principal Ferdinand von Prondzynski launched the initiative on 30 April and said he hoped it would “start the organisation’s journey in becoming a truly healthy university”.
“I am determined that RGU will lead the way in this important matter,” he said.