卓越實證概述 Best Evidence in Brief
Getting children ready for school: whole-child or skill-targeted?

Education children receive in their early childhood has been shown to have long-term impacts on their achievements in school, career and even physical health at the later stage of life. Jenkins and her team explored how the design of preschool curricula (including the content and style of instruction) would influence children’s school readiness – measured by their skills in literacy, math, and socioemotional domain at the end of preschool.

By evaluating 11 early childhood education curricula funded by the Preschool Curriculum Evaluation Research (PCER) Initiative Study, the team was particularly interested in comparing the effectiveness of the whole-child approach, which is widely adopted in most preschool classrooms in the United States, with the skill-targeted curricula in preparing children for promotion to elementary school education.

  • Whole-child approach:
    With an emphasis on child-centered active learning, the approach encourages children to interact independently with the equipment, materials, and their peers during learning rather than having explicit specific academic skills targets
  • Skill-targeted approach:
    Specific activities aimed at building up the targeted skills are laid out in the curriculum while still allowing for child-directed activities

 

The team made the following observations:

  • Children from skill-targeted curricula gained more cognitive skills than children from the whole-child curriculum;
  • Skill-targeted curricula were capable of meeting their target of enhancing children’s specific skills, and this was observed in both literacy and mathematics curricula – children’s achievement in either skill was significantly better in comparison to their whole-child peers;
  • Although whole-child curricula produced better classroom process quality (in terms of teacher-child interactions and the classroom environment, overall instructional quality, etc.), children’s school readiness was not elevated.

As a conclusion, curricula with a focus on specific school readiness skills appear to be more successful in boosting children’s literacy and math skills in comparison to whole-child curricula, which leads the authors to suggest policy efforts need to focus more on developmentally-appropriate, skills-focused curriculum design and move away from the comparatively ineffective whole-child approach.

 

Source:
Jenkins, J. M., Duncan, G. J., Auger, A., Bitler, M., Domina, T., & Burchinal, M. (2018). Boosting school readiness: Should preschool teachers target skills or the whole child? Economics of Education Review, 65, 107–125.… Read the rest

Early childhood education’s positive effects on high school outcome

Early childhood education is associated with positive high school outcomes, including achievement and engagement. In a recently published article in Child Development, Amadon and colleagues reported on a longitudinal study of the effects of early childhood education on high school performance.

The study tracked 4033 students enrolled in Tulsa Public Schools (TPS) kindergartens in Oklahoma from 2006 to 2007. Among them, 44% attended the public universal pre-K program, 14% attended Tulsa’s Community Action Project (CAP) Head Start program, and the rest did not attend either program. The study tracked students’ attendance, academic skills, course selection and completion, and grade retention. The results show that students who attended the TPS pre-K program missed 1.5 fewer days (d = −.10) and were less likely to be chronically absent or retained in grade. And students who attended Head Start missed three fewer days than the other two groups (p = .053) but with no other academic and engagement advantages. Subgroup analyses of gender and free lunch are consistent with these results, but show that students of color who attended the pre-K program were more likely to be engaged in high school than their peers who had not attended preschool or had attended Head Start.

The authors concluded that the students who attended the TPS pre-K program were less likely to fail courses, were more likely to participate in advanced classes in high school, and were less likely to be retained in grade. Public officials can use this evidence to encourage early childhood programs in their communities.

 

Source:
Amadon, S., Gormley, W. T., Claessens, A., Magnuson, K., Hummel-Price, D., & Romm, K. (2022). Does early childhood education help to improve high school outcomes? Results from Tulsa. Child Development, FirstPublished. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.13752Read the rest

The effects of early college opportunities on English learners

A recent study in the American Educational Research Journal examined a developing program started in 2017 that offers Early College (EC) opportunities in high schools serving large English learner (EL) populations in California. This study aimed to evaluate the effects of an EC program on high school graduation and subsequent college enrollment for EL students.

Data for this study were collected from seven cohorts of high school students (N = 15,090) in a large, urban school district in California. As EC was rolled out in the district in three of the high schools first, the researchers compared the post-EC outcomes of treated and control groups (i.e., the three high schools that started EC first vs. other high schools in the district who had not yet started EC). This study expands current knowledge of EC effects on historically underserved student populations such as ELs.

Findings from this study showed that although the EC program succeeded in inducing students to start college coursework, it had no significant effect (0.7 percentage points) on the probability of enrolling in college immediately after high school. The results also corroborate existing case study research suggesting that improving access to more rigorous coursework may be necessary but insufficient for ELs to increase their college-going.

 

Source:
Johnson, A., & Mercado-Garcia, D. (2022). The effects of early college opportunities on English learners. American Educational Research Journal, First Published, 1-33.Read the rest

Improvements to evidence standards

The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) has recently released their latest draft of changes to their procedures and standards. There are many changes in this latest version, and this will continue to improve the expectations of what counts as “good” research.  The WWC is a federally-funded clearinghouse of education programs, products, practices, and policies. Since its creation in 2002, the WWC has set a bar for research quality.  Intervention studies in the United States are often designed in order to meet WWC standards (either with or without reservations).  For this reason, their standards have substantial influence over the quality of research being conducted in the United States.

There are a few revisions to the latest version of the WWC Procedures and Standards Handbook of interest to supporters of evidence-based education.  First, the standards will be applied uniformly across topics, resulting in more consistent ratings and decisions across topics.  The WWC will align their rating so effectiveness with the ESSA evidence tiers, making this another resource for schools looking for interventions with particular levels of evidence.  Finally, the WWC will require effectiveness ratings to be based on independent measures.  The author prefers to think of this as the Slavin Rule, as the use of over-aligned and/or researcher- and developer-made measures was something he argued against, instead advocating for the use of standardized, fair measures to determine the impact of a particular program or practice.

These changes by the WWC will have important implications in the world of educational research.  These rules guide the design of much of the intervention research conducted in the educational world, and these changes, especially the Slavin Rule, will improve the quality of the evidence produced and used to determine “What Works?”

 


Source:
What Works Clearinghouse (2022). What Works Clearinghouse Procedures and Standards Handbook, Version 5.0. U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE).

 … Read the rest

Digital game-based learning enhances children’s language learning

Incorporating educational content into digital games and using those games as part of the elementary school curriculum to deliver traditional subjects has become a recent trend. Yu and Tsuei have launched a quasi-experimental study in digital game-based learning, examining its effect on the learning progress of elementary school students in Chinese language-arts. The authors recruited 126 4th graders (aged 9–10 years) from six classes in an elementary school in Taipei, Taiwan, with four classes as experimental group, and two classes as control group.

Throughout a six-week experimental period, while the control-group classes read e-books on personal computers for 20 minutes each week, two experimental-group classes were assigned to play the game Legendary Beast Rescue I (EG I), and the other two classes, the game Legendary Beast Rescue II (EG II) for the same time span as the students’ learning of Chinese language-arts. The two games differ in their rewards mechanisms, which serve as motivators and feedback to the player to continue with the game. EG I had a performance-contingent reward design, in which rewards are given based on the player’s performance of a task in the form of exceeding a certain threshold. EG II, on the other hand, used a completion-contingent reward design – once the task was complete, the player would receive in-game credits.

Test scores on language achievement and playing behaviours coding revealed that game-playing students outperformed their e-book reading counterparts. Further analysis investigated the effects of game mechanisms on students’ attention level and self-efficacy in Chinese language arts. With the performance-contingent reward game (EG I), students’ attention was significantly enhanced, probably due to the excitement from the higher chances of battling with monsters due to the setup of the reward system and the provision of visual feedback.  As for the completion-contingent reward game (EG II), it significantly enhanced students’ emotions and confidence in Chinese language arts. The study has proven the effectiveness of using digital games as a medium in language learning in the context of elementary education.

 

Source:
Yu, Y.-T., & Tsuei, M. (2022). The effects of digital game-based learning on children’s Chinese language learning, attention and self-efficacy. Interactive Learning Environments. https://doi.org/10.1080/10494820.2022.2028855            … Read the rest