卓越實證概述 Best Evidence in Brief
Fostering curiosity can promote academic achievement

A new research article by Prachi Shah and colleagues at the University of Michigan shows that children who are curious have higher academic achievement than those who aren’t. In fact, they see cultivating curiosity in the classroom—promoting the joy of discovery and motivating students to find out answers to life’s questions—as an untapped strategy for early academic success.

Researchers used data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, which has tracked a national representation of thousands of children since 2001. Children were followed via parent interviews and assessing the children at ages 9 months, 2 years, starting pre-K and K, and then looking at the reading, math, and behavioral skills of 6,200 of these children in 2006 and 2007 when they were in kindergarten.

Results showed that:

  • After controlling for other factors that might influence academic achievement, eagerness to learn new things had a small but positive influence on kindergartners’ reading (ES=+0.11) and math (+0.12).
  • This was even more so for children from low SES backgrounds (ES=+0.18 in reading, +0.20 in math).

The authors conclude that while effortful control has been emphasized as an important predictor for early achievement, curiosity is also an important, yet under-recognized contributor.

 

Source: Shah, P. E., Weeks, H. M., Richards, B., & Kaciroti, N. (2018). Early childhood curiosity and kindergarten reading and math academic achievement. Pediatric Research, Advanced online publication. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41390-018-0039-3Read the rest

The effects of teacher stress on pupil outcomes

new article by Herman, Hickmon-Rosa and Reink (2018) explores the relationship between teacher stress and pupil outcomes.

Their study, which was published in the Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, included 121 teachers and 1,817 pupils between kindergarten and fourth grade (Years 1-5) from nine elementary (primary) schools in an urban Midwestern school district in the U.S. Data included survey responses from teachers on their levels of burnout, stress, efficacy and coping. Pupil outcome measures included teacher reports of pupil behaviour and the Woodcock–Johnson III Test of Achievement.

  • Based on the data, the authors grouped the teachers into four classes: stressed/low coping (3%), stressed/moderate coping (30%), stressed/high coping (60%) and well-adjusted (7%).
  • The authors then linked these results with pupil behavioral and academic outcomes, and found that teachers in the high-stress, high-burnout, and low-coping class were associated with the poorest pupil outcomes.

These findings suggest that investing resources in supporting teacher adaptation, both by equipping them with coping skills and by providing more environmental supports, may improve not only their well-being but also the well-being and functioning of pupils in their class.

 

Source (Open Access): Herman, K. C., Hickmon-Rosa, J., & Reinke, W. M. (2018). Empirically derived profiles of teacher stress, burnout, self-efficacy, and coping and associated student outcomes. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 20(2), 90–100. Read the rest

Early struggling readers and summertime intervention

Kristen Beach and colleagues at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, examined the effects of receiving a reading programme during the summer on the reading achievement of struggling readers in comparison to similarly performing struggling readers who did not receive this summer intervention.

Thirty-two rising second and third graders (Years 3 and 4) in a large urban school in south-eastern US comprised the experimental group. To be eligible for the study, pupils had to score beneath a cutoff point for each grade level on reading fluency. The comparison group was composed of pupils at a nearby school who were matched by age, ethnicity and standardised test scores the prior spring. Both schools were Title I schools (Title 1 provides financial assistance to local educational agencies and schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families) and both sets of pupils were African-American and Hispanic and from low-income backgrounds.

Pupils in the experimental group received 15 intensive hour-long one-to-one or one-to-two sessions from 10 teachers using the Sound Partners programme five times a week for three weeks.

Post-test scores in the autumn showed that:

  • Although pupils who received Sound Partners in the summer outscored the control group in overall reading measures (ES= +0.25), gains in fluency were minimal.
  • No gains in any area were statistically significant.

The authors discuss these findings and conclude that for early readers who have not mastered basic decoding and fluency, an intervention that is longer than 15 hours over three weeks is necessary in order to produce significant improvement in reading.

They recommend that planners of summer programmes aimed at increasing reading achievement carefully consider the variables that will lead to the greatest success.

 

SourceBeach, K. D., McIntyre, E., Philippakos, Z. A., Mraz, M., Pilonieta, P., & Vintinner, J. P. (2018). Effects of a Summer Reading Intervention on Reading Skills for Low-Income Black and Hispanic Students in Elementary School. Reading & Writing Quarterly, 34(3), 263–280. Read the rest

Chinese kindergarten teachers’ responses to children’s classroom social behaviours

Teachers’ beliefs and attitudes towards children affect their teaching, and these beliefs are subject to cultural influences. A study published in Early Childhood Research Quarterly explored the beliefs and attitudes of kindergarten teachers in China towards children’s classroom social behaviours.

Yan Li at Shanghai Normal University and colleagues examined 672 Shanghai kindergarten teachers’ responses to a series of short hypothetical scenarios depicting children with different behaviours when interacting with their peers – for instance, shyness, unsociability, physical aggression and relational aggression. Teachers were asked to rate their tolerance and negative emotions towards children in the scenarios, and to predict the children’s academic performance and whether their peers would respond negatively.

The study found the following:

  • The most negative views were expressed towards scenarios depicting physical aggression.
  • When children in a hypothetical scenario were boys, tolerance towards physical aggression was even less.
  • More tolerance was expressed for shyness compared to aggressive behaviours.
  • Shy children were predicted to receive most negative responses from their peers.
  • Shy children were also predicted to be less likely to achieve academic success than relationally aggressive children.

The authors suggest that these attitudes among Shanghai’s teachers may reflect the influence of Western culture.

 

Source Li, Y., Coplan, R. J., Archbell, K. A., Bullock, A., & Chen, L. (2016). Chinese kindergarten teachers’ beliefs about young children’s classroom social behavior. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 36, 122–132. Read the rest

Class clowns are no joke

longitudinal study from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign shows that the older pupils get, the less they approve of male classmates who are looked upon as class clowns. Specifically, boys who act mischievously to make their peers laugh in first grade (Year 2) start to be shunned for their behavior by third grade (Year 4), and lose self-esteem.

Educational psychologist Lynn Barnett followed 278 children from kindergarten through to third grade (Year 1 to Year 4) to examine “playful” children’s perception of themselves and how others saw them as the school years progressed. To determine which children were the most “playful,” Barnett used the 23-item Children’s Playfulness Scale; surveys on teacher-, peer-, and self-rated social competence; and teacher-, peer-, and self-rated disruptive classroom behaviors, placing pupils named by at least 25% of their peers into the “playful” category.

Her study found that:

  • Pupils in the first grade equally regarded girls and boys as class clowns, but by third grade, mostly boys were labelled as such, even when the girls still demonstrated playful behavior.
  • Although playful children were often popular in the early school years and saw themselves as having better social skills than others, by third grade the male class clowns were the ones likely to be played with the least, losing confidence and seeing themselves as socially incompetent.
  • This is in sharp contrast to female class clowns, who did not lose popularity or self-esteem by third grade.
  • One pattern of note was that in all Year groups, teachers did not view playful girls as negatively as they did playful boys.

Dr Barnett discusses these implications, and teachers’ influence on the way male class clowns are perceived.

Source (Open Access)Barnett, l. A. (2018). The education of playful boys: Class clowns in the classroom. Frontiers in Psychology, 9.Read the rest