卓越實證概述 Best Evidence in Brief
Does order matter?

A recent randomized control trial conducted by Sarama and colleagues compares the order of instructional activities promoted within a learning trajectories (LT) approach to a reverse-sequence (REV) design and a business-as-usual (BAU) design.  The LT approach operates under the assumption that a student learns best when content and activities are sequenced according to the children’s developmental progression or level of thinking.  In comparison, the theoretical approach of the REV design is supported by some research suggesting that challenging students with content beyond their current level of thinking may help them see the value in future instruction designed to facilitate their understanding of the challenging material.

The study focused on the development of length measurement understanding and involved 185 kindergarten students, with 69 assigned to the LT condition, 59 assigned to the REV condition, and 57 assigned to the BAU condition.  Students assigned to the LT condition and REV condition received ten 12-minute (total 120 minutes) one-on-one instructional sections over the course of multiple weeks while students assigned to the BAU condition did not receive any additional instruction.  Researchers developed an assessment of length measurement learning based on the Research-Based Early Mathematics Assessment and the Cognitively Based Assessment. A model comparing the LT condition with the BAU condition and REV condition indicates evidence:

  • Significant positive effects for the LT approach when compared with BAU (ES = + 0.58) and with REV (ES = + 0.32).
  • This provides evidence that the material provided in the LT approach is effective and that the order in which this material is presented is important for maximizing student learning.

The authors acknowledge that differing instructional approaches between the LT and REV groups may have also affected student outcomes beyond the ordering of the instructional material.  However, the authors indicate this is the first study to focus on sequence of material presented in the LT approach and it therefore provides valuable insight on the approach’s usefulness and may provide direction for future research.

 

Source (Open Access): Sarama, J., Clements, D. H., Baroody, A. J., Kutaka, T. S., Chernyavskiy, P., Shi, J., & Cong, M. (2021). Testing a Theoretical Assumption of a Learning-Trajectories Approach in Teaching Length Measurement to Kindergartners. AERA Open, 7, 23328584211026656. https://doi.org/10.1177/23328584211026657Read the rest

Excessive use of electronic devices harms children’s school performance

Interactive technology (e.g., Internet, social media, video games, etc.) is an integral part of life for youth. In a recently published research paper in Computers and Human Behavior, Anthony and her colleagues report the impact of amounts of interactive technology use on school engagement and academic performance. Two-wave survey data of 9,449 middle school students (mean age = 13.5 years) were collected in 2013-2014 and 2014-15 from the China Education Panel Survey (CEPS), a national survey in China.

Students reported the time spent on their electronic devices for entertainment on school days and on weekends. Academic performance was assessed with midterm scores (Chinese, English and Mathematics), cognitive competency was measured by 20 test items (verbal, figure, quantitative). Truancy, educational aspirations, concentration in class, and boredom at school were reported by students one year later as proxy for school engagement.

 After a comparison with those who did not spend any time on interactive technology for entertainment / non-school related activities, the findings showed:

  • Even 1+ hours of usage on school days resulted in performance in academic outcomes and cognitive scores becoming worse.
  • During weekends, using 2+ hours daily resulted in significantly lower Chinese exam scores, and using 4+ hours daily resulted in significantly lower Math exam scores one year later.
  • There was no significant association between weekend usage and English exam scores.
  • The usage of 1+ hours on school days and weekends could lower educational aspirations and increase the likelihood of lacking concentration in class at follow-up.
  • Using 1+ hours on school days or 4+ hours on weekends was significantly associated with greater likelihood of feeling bored at school.
  • However, children who spent less than 1 hour on interactive technology on weekends experienced less boredom at school.

The authors recommended a preliminary guideline with a moderate threshold for technology entertainment which may minimise potential adverse effects:

  • No more than 1 hour daily on school days
  • No more than 4 hours daily on weekends

 

Source: Anthony, W. L., Zhu, Y., & Nower, L. (2021). The relationship of interactive technology use for entertainment and school performance and engagement: Evidence from a longitudinal study in a nationally representative sample of middle school students in China. Computers in Human Behavior, 122, 106846. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2021.106846Read the rest

The effect of four-day school weeks on attendance, achievement, and discipline in high school

Although the four-day school week schedule is not a new phenomenon, it has seen unprecedented growth in its adoption over the past two decades, reaching 662 public school districts in 24 states in 2019. Prior limited research shows that the schedule reduces school expenditures by a small amount but doesn’t affect the attendance among students in grades 3-8. In a recent working paper published by the Annenberg Institute at Brown University, the author assessed the impact of the four-day school week policy in Oklahoma on high school students’ attendance, achievement, and school discipline.

The author employed district-level high school data from Oklahoma and a quasi-experimental research method to provide a rigorous analysis of the effect of the four-day school week on high school students’ attendance. Results indicate that

  • Four-day school weeks have no significant effect on either math and English ACT scores as well as high school attendance rates.
  • Findings indicate positive impacts on school discipline, with reductions in bullying, fighting, and assaults.
  • Other types of disciplinary infractions, such as vandalism and drugs did not show any significant impacts.

While 29% of four-day week districts from a national sample of four-day school week districts say that attendance is their primary driver to adopt this schedule, this this study suggests adopting a four-day school week schedule may not improving attendance but may have other positive impacts of interest to schools.

 

Source (Open Access): Morton, Emily. (2021). Effects of four-day school weeks on adolescents: Examining impacts of the schedule on academic achievement, attendance, and behavior in high school. (EdWorkingPaper: 21-416). Retrieved from Annenberg Institute at Brown University: https://doi.org/10.26300/y2qy-ea03Read the rest

A service-learning program in science to improve academic achievement and civic engagement

A recent randomized evaluation conducted by Rimm-Kaufman and colleagues investigated the effects of Connect Science on student academic achievement and civic engagement. Connect Science is a service-learning program, a form of project-based learning that aims to prepare students to tackle with social and environmental problems in their community. The content of the intervention in this study was related to energy use and social emotional skills in groupwork.

The study involved 41 fourth grade classes in the South-Central US randomly assigned to receive the intervention over 14-22 weeks or to continue with their regular practice. Science achievement and civic engagement were measured using quantitative tests developed by the researchers who conducted the study. Researcher-made measures may overestimate the effect of the intervention compared to independent tests, such as standardized or state tests. For this reason, the results presented below should be used with caution. Results showed

  • Significant positive effects for science achievement (ES = +0.32).
  • Significant positive effects for domain-specific civic engagement measured by Energy Attitudes & Behaviors (ES =+0.31).
  • No statistically significant effects were found for general civic engagement (Civic Efficacy & Skills, ES = +0.21).

Although the study was well-conducted and the results showed positive effects in students’ science achievement, further research is needed to test the effectiveness of Connect Science using independent measures of science achievement.

 

Source: Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., Merritt, E. G., Lapan, C., DeCoster, J., Hunt, A., & Bowers, N. (2021). Can service-learning boost science achievement, civic engagement, and social skills? A randomized controlled trial of Connect Science. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 74, 101236. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appdev.2020.101236Read the rest

Are extracurricular activities for preschoolers worthwhile?

In China, preparing children for primary school transition has been recognized as one of the motives to enroll preschoolers in organized extracurricular activities (EA). A longitudinal study recently published in Journal of School Psychology investigated the associations between EA participation and various school readiness outcomes for Chinese preschoolers. 

A total of 345 children (age 3-4 at T1) enrolled in 12 public preschools from middle-class families in urban Shanghai provided data on EA participation. Parents completed questionnaires about their children’s EA participation at three time points (T1=November 2017; T2= November 2018; T3=May 2019). At T1, assessment was conducted to obtain children’s baseline development.  At T3 children’s school readiness skill outcomes, including receptive vocabulary, Chinese reading, expressive language, and early math skills were measured. Parents reported their children’s social-emotional development. EA participation was assessed in two scales, breadth and intensity. EA breadth was defined as number of EA types that a child was involved in (e.g., art, English, sports, chess were counted as 4 types). Attendance intensity was measured by number of hours spent on EAs per week. A growth mixture model was employed to identify different trajectories of EA participation. After controlling for initial development and socio-demographic factors, the results showed: 

  • Two EA participation breadth classes were identified: low and high level. Similarly, EA participation intensity was found to have two levels.
  • Different levels of EA breadth had no effect on any measures of school readiness skills.
  • Neither children’s greater initial EA breadth nor greater growth rate was related to better early math skills. However, belonging to a high intensity class was associated with better early math skills.
  • EA participation did not predict other aspects of children’s school readiness.

Evidence from the current study suggests that EA participation may have limited effect on promoting children’s school readiness. Parents and educators may consider allocating familial and societal resources to other important aspects that can facilitate school readiness.

 

Source: Ren, L., Tong, X., Xu, W., Wu, Z., Zhou, X., & Hu, B. Y. (2021). Distinct patterns of organized activity participation and their associations with school readiness among Chinese preschoolers. Journal of School Psychology, 86, 100–119. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsp.2021.03.007 … Read the rest