卓越實證概述 Best Evidence in Brief
Project-based learning

working paper from MDRC builds on and updates a literature review of project-based learning (PBL) published in 2000. Focused primarily on articles and studies that have emerged in the last 17 years, the working paper discusses the principles of PBL, how PBL has been used in K–12 (Year 1–13) settings, the challenges teachers face in implementing it, how school and local factors influence its implementation and what is known about its effectiveness in improving learning outcomes.

The report suggests that the evidence for PBL’s effectiveness in improving pupil outcomes is “promising, but not proven”.  The biggest challenge to evaluating the effectiveness of PBL, the researchers suggest, is a lack of consensus about the design of PBL and how it fits in with other teaching methods. Some studies have found positive effects associated with the use of PBL. However, without a clear vision of what a PBL approach should look like, it is difficult for teachers and schools to assess the quality of their own implementation and know how to improve their approach. They also suggest that PBL implementation is particularly challenging because it changes pupil–teacher interactions and requires a shift from teacher-directed to pupil-directed inquiry and requires non-traditional methods of assessment.

The paper concludes with recommendations for advancing the PBL research literature in ways that will improve PBL knowledge and practice.

 

Sources: Condliffe, B., Quint, J., Visher, M. G., Bangser, M. R., Drohojowska, S., Saco, L., & Nelson, E. (2017). Project-Based Learning - a Literature Review. NY: MDRC.… Read the rest

The evidence on achievement gaps over time: Contained but not closing

Research has shown that socioeconomic status (SES) is the highest predictor of children’s academic achievement. Moreover, the achievement gap between low- and high-SES pupils begins early in their schooling. How effective have initiatives been at narrowing the achievement gap? Emma Garcia at the Education Policy Institute in the US and Elaine Weiss at the Broader Bolder Approach to Education examined two cohorts of kindergartners (Year 1), those who started in 1998 and those who started in 2010. They were looking at the relationship between socio-economic status and kindergartners’ cognitive and non-cognitive skills at the start of their school years to see if the achievement gap had narrowed in this twelve-year span.

Using data from the National Center for Education Statistics – Early Childhood Longitudinal Studies of the Kindergarten Classes of 1998-99 and 2010-11, Garcia and Weiss found that the achievement gap did not change between 1998 to 2010 among pupils living in the US’s highest and lowest economic strata, a difference of 1.17 standard deviations in reading and 1.25 standard deviations in maths, despite parents’ increased involvement in educating their children across all SES groups and the implementation of programmes designed to narrow these gaps. Interestingly, they did find that the percentage of children living in poverty grew during that time, yet the achievement gap did not grow, nor did it narrow. They found that greater parental involvement and children’s pre-school attendance contained the gap, but did not do enough to eliminate the overall effects of poverty on pupil achievement.

The researchers then reviewed twelve programmes designed to narrow the achievement gap. The most effective programmes addressed not only academics, but ensured the children were getting proper meals and healthcare and provided other supports for children and their families.

 

Sources: García, E. & Weiss, E. (2017). Education Inequalities at the School Starting Gate – Gaps, Trends, and Strategies to Address them. DC: Economic Policy Institute.… Read the rest

Does growth rate in spatial perception ability predict early arithmetic competence?

Two researchers respectively from The University of Hong Kong and The Education University of Hong Kong carried out a three-year longitudinal study of Chinese preschoolers to examine the predictability of the growth rate in spatial perception ability on children’s subsequent arithmetic skills.  Spatial perception is the ability to perceive spatial relations.

A total of 106 Chinese children from two non-profit-making preschools in Hong Kong were recruited to participate in the study. All participants were native Cantonese-speaking children and received instruction in Cantonese. Their average age was approximately 45 months (3.75 years old) at the beginning of the study.

The children were tested individually five times across three years of preschool studies. The five-time points were the spring of the first academic year (May, [T1]), the fall of the second academic year (November, [T2]), the spring of the second academic year (May, [T3]), the fall of the third academic year (November, [T4]), and the spring of the third academic year (May, [T5]). A total of seven tests, including spatial perception test and the arithmetic competencies test, were employed as measures, and the reliability of the tests were proved to be good. The purpose of the spatial perception test was to probe into children’s competence to identify spatial relations among task components despite the existences of distracting information.

After controlling for possibly confounding variables such as spatial analogic reasoning, spatial visualization, mental rotation and the level and rate of growth in phonological awareness, the finding indicates that the growth rate in spatial perception during the preschool years had predictive impact on children’s arithmetic competence at the end of preschool but the initial level of spatial perception did not have such predictive function. It also demonstrates that growth rate of spatial perception during preschool years had its unique value in predicting arithmetic competencies, even when other components of spatial ability are considered.

Such findings suggest that it is of significance to assist pre-school students to develop spatial perception which is likely to lead to improvement in their arithmetic competences. Thus, the learning process and progress in spatial ability is worthy of monitoring by teachers and practitioners, and those children whose rate of growth is slower than their fellow students need to be provided with appropriate spatial learning opportunities.

 

Source: Zhang, X. & Lin, D. (2017). Does growth rate in spatial ability matter in predicting early arithmetic competence? Learning and Instruction, 49, 232-241.… Read the rest

Poor literacy skills hold poorer pupils back in science

A report, published by the Education Endowment Foundation and the Royal Society, has reviewed existing studies to identify interventions and teaching approaches that have a positive impact on pupil learning in science, particularly for pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The researchers from the University of Oxford analysed data in the National Pupil Database in England to measure the extent of the gap in the performance between economically disadvantaged pupils and pupils from higher socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds on national science tests. This analysis confirmed that disadvantaged pupils (pupils who have been entitled to free school meals at least once in the last six years) had much lower scores and made poorer progress in science, at every stage of their school career, than pupils from higher SES backgrounds. The gap, they suggest, first becomes apparent at Key Stage 1 (ages 5–7) and only gets wider throughout primary and secondary school. The gap for science is as wide as it is in English and maths, and grows particularly strongly between the ages of 5–7 and 11–16.

The study also found that the strongest factor affecting pupils’ science scores was how well they understood written texts. According to the report, poor literacy skills affect how well a pupil is able to understand scientific vocabulary and to prepare scientific reports. This suggests that strategies to boost disadvantaged pupils’ reading comprehension could have a positive impact on their achievement in science too. The authors write: “In correlational studies of science learning, the strongest and most consistent predictor of pupils’ scientific attainment has undoubtedly been how literate they are”. They add that there is a “strong relationship” between pupils’ socioeconomic status and their literacy.

A study, which we covered in a previous edition of Best Evidence in Brief, found a similar relationship between literacy and science achievement gaps for pupils in US elementary and middle schools.

 

Source: Nunes, T., Bryant, P., Strand, S., Hillier, J., Barros, R., & Miller-Friedmann, J. (2017). Review of SES and Science Learning in Formal Educational Settings. UK: Education Endowment Foundation.… Read the rest

Engaging dads in a parenting intervention improved outcomes

A parenting programme in which fathers engage with their children through reading was found to boost the fathers’ parenting skills while also improving the child’s school readiness and behaviour, according to research published in the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology.

The randomised controlled trial, conducted by Anil Chacko and colleagues, evaluated the effects of Fathers Supporting Success in Preschoolers, an intervention that focuses on integrating parent training with shared book reading to improve outcomes among fathers and their pre-school children. For the study, 126 low-income fathers – the majority of whom spoke Spanish – and their children were recruited across three Head Start centres in New York City. The intervention included eight weekly sessions, each lasting 90 minutes. The effects of the programme on parenting skills, child behaviour and language, and outcomes for fathers including stress and depression were measured before and immediately after participation in the programme. Measures included observations by the researchers using a behavioural coding system that measures the quality of parent-child social interactions, reports from the fathers and standardised assessments of child language.

The study found that parenting behaviours, child behaviours and the language development of the children improved. Moderate effect sizes were found for observed positive parenting (+0.63) and for observed child problem behaviour (+0.34). Using the Preschool Language Scales (PLS-4) to measure language outcomes, effect sizes of +0.52 were reported for auditory comprehension and +0.51 for expressive language. Parental stress and depression effect sizes were insignificant. Overall, the findings suggest more than a 30% improvement in parenting and school readiness outcomes.

 

Source: Chacko, A., Fabiano, G. A., Doctoroff, G. L., & Fortson, B. (2017). Engaging fathers in effective parenting for preschool children using shared book reading: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 1-14.… Read the rest