卓越實證概述 Best Evidence in Brief
Conversation more important than word exposure for literacy and language development

While it is common knowledge that talking to children helps them develop language and pre-literacy skills, new research from Harvard, MIT and the University of Pennsylvania shows that children gain greater language development and pre-literacy benefits the more that caregivers engage them in conversational turn-taking-like exchanges. In other words, talking with children is more beneficial than talking to children.

In the first study to link children’s language exposure to neural functioning:

  • Functional MRIs showed that children who experienced more frequent conversational turn-taking with caregivers while listening to stories demonstrated greater activity within the part of the brain in charge of language processing than children who didn’t interact in as many conversational exchanges.
  • These same children also scored higher than their counterparts on standardised language assessments measuring vocabulary, grammar, and verbal reasoning. This was true regardless of children’s socioeconomic status or parental education.

Audio recordings of 36 four- to six-year-olds from various socioeconomic backgrounds measured the number of words children said, the number of words they heard and the number of conversational exchanges in which they engaged for two days. All children were native English speakers who did not significantly differ by behaviour, language exposure, or neural measures on standardised tests. When these measures were compared to the brain scans, researchers found a positive correlation between conversational turns and brain physiology.

 

Romeo, R. R., Leonard, J. A., Robinson, S. T., West, M. R., Mackey, A. P., Rowe, M. L., & Gabrieli, J. D. E. (2018). Beyond the 30-Million-Word Gap: Children’s Conversational Exposure Is Associated with Language-Related Brain Function. Psychological Science. Advance online publication.… Read the rest

One in five pupils in the UK experience emotional and behavioural problems

Around one in five children and young people in the UK experience emotional and behavioural problems according to the first findings from a survey of over 30,000 young people (aged 11 to 14), which were collected as part the National Lottery-funded HeadStart programme.

Pupils in the 114 participating HeadStart schools were asked to complete the online Wellbeing Measurement Framework. This report, by Jessica Deighton and colleagues, explores the data related to the prevalence of mental health problems in young people and how this varies by gender, ethnicity, special educational needs status, free school meal eligibility, and child-in-need status. The findings reveal that:

  • Pupils in Year 9 are more likely to report mental health problems than those in Year 7.
  • Girls are more likely to say they had experienced emotional problems (with 25% of girls saying they had a problem compared to 11% of boys) but in contrast, boys are more likely to say they have experienced behavioural problems (with 23% of boys saying they had experienced them compared with 15% of girls).
  • Pupils from Asian, Black, Mixed, and other ethnic groups were less likely to indicate they were experiencing emotional problems than young people in the White ethnic group.
  • Pupils with special educational needs, those eligible for free school meals, and those classified as children in need were also more likely to say they were experiencing both emotional and behavioural problems.

The report concludes that there is a consistent association between deprivation and mental health problems, however, the schools involved in HeadStart are typically located in less socially and economically advantaged areas of the UK and differ from the national average in terms of proportions with special educational needs and proportions of white pupils, so all results must be understood in this context.

 

Deighton, J., Lereya, T., Patalay, P., Casey, P., Humphrey, N., & Wolpert, M. (2018). Mental health problems in young people, aged 11 to 14: Results from the first HeadStart annual survey of 30,000 children. London: CAMHS Press.… Read the rest

Social skills intervention programme shows small positive effects

Results from a study published in the Journal of Education Psychology suggest that a classroom social skills programme, The Social Skills Improvement System Classwide Intervention Program (SSIS-CIP), generally has small positive effects on social skills and approaches to learning.

James Clyde DiPerna and colleagues from the Pennsylvania State University evaluated the effects of SSIS-CIP on the social, behavioural and academic outcomes of Year 2 pupils from six primary schools in the mid-Atlantic region of the US. Classrooms were randomly assigned to either treatment or business-as-usual control groups. Teachers assigned to the treatment group implemented the SSIS-CIP over a 12-week period. Outcomes were assessed via teacher ratings and direct observations of classroom behaviour as well as computer-adaptive tests of reading and maths.

Results showed that:

  • SSIS-CIP has a small positive effect on social skills across all social skills subscales (effect sizes ranged from +0.13 to +0.31), with empathy and social engagement showing the largest positive effects (+0.31 and +0.21).
  • The direct observation measure, however, yielded the smallest effect size (+0.05).
  • Students in the treatment group also demonstrated positive effects on academic motivation and engagement (+0.17).
  • However, SSIS-CIP did not demonstrate any substantial effects for problem behaviours, with effect sizes across subscales ranging from +0.01 to +0.07.

Larger effects were also found among second-grade students. The authors suggest that if this pattern could be replicated in the future studies, educators should consider prioritizing second grade for implementation of the SSIS-CIP.

 

DiPerna, J. C., Lei, P., Cheng, W., Hart, S. C., & Bellinger, J. (2018). A cluster randomized trial of the Social Skills Improvement System-Classwide Intervention Program (SSIS-CIP) in first grade. Journal of Educational Psychology, 110(1), 1–16.… Read the rest

Reviewing the research on school climate and social-emotional learning

A new research brief, School climate and social and emotional learning: the integration of two approaches, by David Osher and Juliette Berg at AIR reviews research on how positive school climates support social-emotional learning (SEL) and how improved SEL contributes to improved school climate in primary and secondary schools.

The authors present research from various journal articles, research briefs, policy guides and other sources. Key findings were as follows:

  • Supportive relationships, engagement, safety, cultural competence and responsiveness and academic challenge and high expectations create positive school climates that can help build social and emotional competence.
  • The relationship between positive school climate and SEL is interactive and co-influential, occurs in all settings and pupil-teacher-staff interactions and influences pupils and teachers directly and indirectly.
  • Rigorous evaluations of school climate and SEL approaches have provided some direct evidence that one can improve the other.

The authors say that the research and practice communities could benefit from greater clarity and alignment in definitions, goals, messaging and measurement of SEL and school climate and understanding of how each one can complement the other.

 

Osher, D., & Berg, J. (2017). School climate and social and emotional learning: the integration of two approaches. Old Main, PA: Edna Bennet Pierce Prevention Research Center, Pennsylvania State University.… Read the rest

New guidance to support schools to put evidence to work in their classrooms

A new guidance report from the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) aims to give schools the support they need to put evidence to work in their classrooms and implement new programmes and approaches effectively.

The report highlights how good and thoughtful implementation is crucial to the success of any teaching and learning strategy, yet creating the right conditions for implementation – let alone the structured process of planning, delivering and sustaining change – is hard.

The authors offer six recommendations to help schools give their innovations the very best chance by working carefully through the who, why, where, when and how of managing change. These recommendations can be applied to any school improvement decision: programmes or practices, whole-school or targeted approach, internally or externally generated ideas. The report frames implementation in four stages: explore, prepare, deliver and sustain. The six recommendations are:

  • Treat implementation as a process, not an event; plan and execute it in stages.
  • Create a leadership environment and school climate that is conducive to good implementation.
  • Define the problem you want to solve and identify appropriate programmes or practices to implement.
  • Create a clear implementation plan, judge the readiness of the school to deliver that plan, then prepare staff and resources.
  • Support staff, monitor progress, solve problems, and adapt strategies as the approach is used for the first time.
  • Plan for sustaining and scaling an intervention from the outset and continuously acknowledge and nurture its use.

These suggestions provide guidance on how schools can create the right environment for change, from supporting staff to getting leadership on board.

 

Sharples, J., Albers, B., & Fraser, S. (2018). Putting evidence to work: a school’s guide to implementation. Guidance Report. London, England: The Education Endowment Foundation.… Read the rest