卓越實證概述 Best Evidence in Brief
Efficacy of Zoology One, a science and literacy program for kindergartners

 

Gray and colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania examined the effects of Zoology One, an integrated science and literacy curriculum, on Philadelphia kindergarteners’ literacy skills and reading motivation. As shortages of students entering STEM careers grow larger, an emergent body of literature supports the need for engagement in science instruction early on in schooling. Young students who naturally show an appetite for scientific inquiry, this motivation for science tends to be weakened as they get older. As such, early science exposure offers the roots for scientific understanding that can be developed in later grades and serve as a motivating force for science learning.

The researchers employed a randomized control trial design in 71 classrooms of 21 schools, randomly assigning classrooms to treatment or control conditions. Treatment classrooms implemented Zoology One in place of regular literacy instruction for 2 hours per day throughout the entire school year. The curriculum’s four 9-week units cover an introduction, zoology, ecology, and entomology units and incorporate daily instruction in reading, writing, and science, via themed teacher read-aloud, scientific inquiry, as well as parental involvement. Teachers in the treatment condition were asked to not provide additional science instruction, while control teachers provided their usual science instruction throughout the school year. Pre and post tests were administered in the fall and spring of treatment years to measure students’ decoding and comprehension, reading and letter naming fluency, writing, science knowledge, and motivation to read.

  • Analysis revealed Zoology One had significant impacts on comprehension, letter-naming fluency, and motivation to read, with effect sizes of +0.16, +0.23, and +0.32, respectively.
  • There was no significant effect for writing, decoding, or science.

While these findings are mixed, the authors note that teacher fidelity to program implementation plays a large role in facilitating improved outcomes. Furthermore, Zoology One’s substantial effects on students’ motivation to read show promise as a pathway for accelerating reading experience and proficiency.

 

Source: Gray, A. M., Sirinides, P. M., Fink, R. E., & Bowden, A. B. (2021). Integrating literacy and science instruction in kindergarten: Results from the efficacy study of Zoology One. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 0(0), 1–27. https://doi.org/10.1080/19345747.2021.1938313Read the rest

Which type of spatial skill predicts future academic achievement?

Numerous studies provide evidence that spatial skills are strong predictors of children’s future academic performance. Wang and colleagues conducted a longitudinal study to further explore which type of spatial skill of kindergarteners contributed to predicting math and Chinese reading performance in second grade. Three types of spatial skills were included in the study. Spatial perception is a basic spatial skill involving ability to distinguish shapes from other shapes. In contrast, spatial visualization and mental rotation are higher-level spatial skills which involve complicated multi-step cognitive processing.

This study is part of a longitudinal research project started in 2014 to investigate the quality of early childhood education in Guangdong province in China. The data used in this study were collected in 2016 (K3) and in 2018 (second grade). A sample of 182 children (mean age in 2016 = 6.3; 93 girls) was randomly selected from an economically mid-level city. Math achievement in second grade was assessed by Math Achievement Test (MAT) and Mathematical Equation Test (MET). A Chinese Character Recognition Task was used to assess Chinese reading skills for students in both kindergarten and primary school. All spatial skills were assessed in K3. Spatial perception ability was measured by asking students to identify a figure which presented a different orientation from 4 other figures. Spatial visualization was measured by a subtest of spatial relations in which children were asked to identify shapes needed to form a complete shape. Mental rotation ability was tested by the ice cone task. In the test, children were required to distinguish whether each pair of ice cones was the same. One of the ice cones of each pair was rotated in a different degree with a variation of 3 colors (blue, red, and green). After controlling for vocabulary, working memory, behavior regulation skills, and family SES of students in kindergarten, the analysis results were found as below.

  • Spatial perception skill significantly predicted MAT (ES =+0.18) and MET (ES = +0.19) achievement but not Chinese character recognition (ES = -0.04) two years later.
  • Spatial visualization ability in kindergarten significantly predicted all three scores in grade 2: MAT (ES = +0.14), MET (ES = +0.15) and Chinese reading skill (ES = +0.17).
  • Mental rotation did not predict any of those three tests results 2 years later: MAT (ES = -0.04), MET (ES = -0.15) and Chinese reading skill (ES = -0.06).

Among the three types of spatial ability, both spatial perception and spatial visualization in kindergarten contributed significantly to children’s math skills in second grade, but only spatial visualization predicted Chinese character recognition ability. Spatial visualization involves maintaining spatial information in working memory, manipulating spatial images, and applying multi-step spatial processing to reason. Such skills would help generate mental representations to spatially structured Chinese characters learned in primary school.  For example, the word 脆  is composed of 月  and 危.

 

Source: Wang, S., Hu, B. Y., & Zhang, X. (2021). Kindergarteners’ spatial skills and their reading and math achievement in second grade. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 57, 156–166. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecresq.2021.06.002Read the rest

Long-term effects of early childhood educational intervention

The Chicago School Readiness Project (CSRP) is an early childhood education (ECE) intervention targeting low-income children’s school readiness. It is a cluster-randomized controlled trial that included four key components:

  • professional development sessions for teachers on reducing behavioral problems and supporting self-regulated learning behaviors,
  • mental health consultants’ regular visits to coach teachers,
  • stress-reduction workshops for teachers,
  • direct services to families with children with special learning needs.

Watts and colleagues evaluated the effects of the CSRP on school choice over 10 years after the intervention ended. Data were collected from 442 students who participated in the program at ages 3, 4 or 5 in 2004 – 2005 or 2005 – 2006. The students were attending high school at different grade levels during the 2016 – 2017 academic year (grade 9: 26%; grade 10: 43%; grade 11: 30%; grade 12: 1%). To estimate the program’s impact, the researchers regressed each outcome variable relating to school type and school quality on treatment status and the baseline controls collected at preschool entry.

The results show a higher tendency among students who participated in the program to withdraw from assigned neighborhood schools and attend higher-performing schools. These school enrollment patterns began in elementary school. Therefore, the researchers argue that intensive ECE interventions could have lasting effects on children’s environmental selection patterns in later educational stages.

However, future research is needed to examine (1) the long-term impact of the school enrolment patterns reported here on students, (2) if the higher-performing schools have positive effects on students enrolled in the program, and (3) the specific processes that led to the different school enrolment patterns reported here.

 

Source: Watts, T., Ibrahim, D., Khader, A., Li, C., Gandhi, J., & Raver, C. (2020). Exploring the impacts of an early childhood educational intervention on later school selection. Educational Researcher, 49(9), 667–677. https://doi.org/10.3102/0013189X20935060Read the rest

How to sustain Reading Corps intervention benefits?

Reading Corps is a Tier-2 tutoring program for K-3 students. Its intervention benefits are established by empirical evidence and rigorous evaluation methods, but little is known about how to sustain these benefits in the long run. A recent publication in Journal of School Psychology adopted a cluster randomized controlled trial to explore intervention maintenance.

Researchers recruited students from kindergarten (n = 177), second grade (n = 149), and third grade ( n = 204 ) who successfully completed and exited Reading Corps in the previous fall semester. Through random assignment of schools, students assigned to the treatment group received weekly 5-minute oral practice sessions during the spring semester and students in the control group received no additional on-going monitoring or practice sessions. The 5-minute practice session was composed of a 1-minute grade-level progress monitoring probe and performance comparison to their previous literacy performance. The literacy outcome was measured by three dimensions: letter and fluency assessment, FastBridge Learning CBM-R (number of words read correct in 1 minute), and the Minnesota comprehension exam in reading.

Looking at students’ literacy growth from winter to spring semester, the effect size was:

  • +0.60 for kindergarten,
  • +0.03 for second grade,
  • +0.14 for third grade.

This research provides some evidence for the beneficial effects of brief follow-up sessions in early literacy. Fade-out is a common effect in most interventions, but very few studies investigate ways to counter the attenuated effects. The authors concluded that more research is needed to sort out effective ways to boost intervention effects in the long run.

 

Source: Nelson, P. M., Klingbeil, D. A., Van Norman, E. R., & Parker, D. C. (2021). A cluster randomized controlled trial of brief follow-up practice sessions on intervention maintenance. Journal of School Psychology, 88, 31–46. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsp.2021.07.003Read the rest

Disabled peers and students’ performance

An inclusive educational system in which students with and without special education needs are taught together is in place in many countries. The impact of inclusive education on students without SEN is one of the open questions of concern. A quasi-experimental study published in Economics of Education Review analyzed the influence of disabled students on the academic performance of their non-disabled classmates. Two waves of data from the China Education Panel Survey (CEPS) during 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years were used in the study. The survey was conducted with 2 classes randomly selected from grade 7 in each selected school. The authors targeted only schools which randomly assigned students to classrooms at the beginning of 7th grade and maintained that classroom composition thereafter. The sample consists of records of 5,517 students from 152 classes in 76 schools.

In this study, the sample was restricted to students who had been randomly assigned to classes, i.e.  not as an outcome of school and family choices. The randomness of this classroom composition is keyed to students' characteristics (for example, age, gender, whether being the only child, family SES, etc.) to be equivalent between classrooms with and without disabled children. Parents reported their children's disability status (e.g., visual impairment (excluding myopia), speech disorders, ADHD) in the first wave of CEPS. Using a binary coded measure, 350 students were disabled and 5,167 were non-disabled. The share of disabled students in the classroom was the treatment variable. Total mid-term exam scores of three compulsory subjects (Chinese, math, and English) were used to measure students’ academic performance. The peer effects of disabled classmates on non-disabled students were identified as follows:

  • Disabled classmates had a significant negative impact on non-disabled peers in terms of exam scores.
  • One percent increase in the proportion of disabled students reduced the scores of non-disabled peers by 0.014 and 0.010 standard deviations (SD) in grades 7 and 8, respectively.
  • Adding one disabled child to a classroom of 50 students could lead to a reduction of 2.0 % to 2.7% of a SD in exam scores of non-disabled students.
  • The negative spillover effect was found in Chinese and math but not in English.
  • The adverse spillover influence was larger for lower academic performers.

Even though the adverse effect was not large, based on the findings, the authors voiced their concern about whether the inclusive educational system should be strongly promoted in China.

 

Source: Huang, B., Lu, H., & Zhu, R. (2021). Disabled Peers and Student Performance: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from China. Economics of Education Review, 82, 102121.… Read the rest