卓越實證概述 Best Evidence in Brief
Predicting reading ability from DNA analysis

Researchers from King’s College London have used a genetic scoring technique to predict reading performance throughout school years from DNA alone.

Saskia Selzam and colleagues calculated genetic scores for educational achievement in 5,825 individuals from the Twins Early Development Study (TEDS) based on genetic variants identified to be important for educational achievement. They then mapped these scores against reading ability between the ages of 7 and 14.

The report, published in Scientific Studies of Reading, found there was a correlation between children’s DNA and their reading ability. Genetic scores were found to explain up to five percent of the differences between children in their reading ability. The children with the highest and lowest genetic scores had reading abilities almost two years apart. This association remained significant even after accounting for cognitive ability and family socioeconomic status.

The researchers note that although five percent may seem a relatively small amount, it is substantial compared to other results related to reading. For example, gender differences have been found to explain less than one percent of the differences between children in reading ability. The use of genetic scoring in education as an early screening tool to help identify those at particular genetic risk of reading problems, they propose, could lead to tailored intervention and prevention according to an individual child’s needs.

 

Source: Selzam, S., Dale, P. S., Wagner, R. K., DeFries, J. C., Cederlöf, M., O’Reilly, P. F., … Plomin, R. (2017). Genome-wide polygenic scores predict reading performance throughout the school years. Scientific Studies of Reading, 21(4), 334–349.… Read the rest

The relationship between students’ academic stress and academic motivation

A 3-year longitudinal study was carried out by Nanjing University on the relationship between Chinese high school students’ academic stress and academic motivation in the subject of mathematics. Academic motivation is comprised of three components: intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, and amotivation. Furthermore, there are three aspects of extrinsic motivation: identified regulation, introjected regulation and external regulation.

A total of 298 grade 10 students (mean age: 16.46) from three high schools in urban areas of Nanjing participated in the present study. Students’ academic stress was measured when they were grade 10, and their academic motivation was measured at both grade 10 and grade 12.

The study found that Chinese high school students’ academic stress at grade 10 negatively predicted their intrinsic motivation, but positively predicted their amotivation at grade 12. On the other hand, there was no significant difference between academic stress and extrinsic motivation.

The researcher suggested that Chinese high schools’ mathematics teachers might consider cutting down the amount of mathematics homework and the frequency of tests in order to reduce students’ academic stress; this would serve to enhance students’ intrinsic motivation and decrease their amotivation for mathematics learning.

 

Source: Liu, Y. (2015). The longitudinal relationship between Chinese high school students’ academic stress and academic motivation. Learning and Individual Differences, 38, 123-126.… Read the rest

New evidence on early childhood settings and children’s outcomes

A new Campbell Collaboration systematic review by Matthew Manning and colleagues examines the evidence on the relationship between teacher qualifications and the quality of early childhood education and care (ECEC), and finds there is a positive association.

The review summarises findings from 48 studies with 82 independent samples. Of those samples, 58 assessed the overall quality of ECEC as an outcome. The relationship between teacher qualifications and overall ECEC quality demonstrated a positive correlation (r = 0.198).

Meanwhile, research funded by the Nuffield Foundation and published as a Centre for Economic Performance Discussion Paper, looks at whether staff qualifications and Ofsted ratings of nursery schools impact on how well children do at school.

For this report, Jo Blanden and colleagues matched data on children’s outcomes at the end of Reception with information on nursery schools attended in the year before starting school for 1.6 million children born between September 2003 and August 2006. They found that children who attend a nursery school rated outstanding, or one employing one or more staff members who are graduates, do better at school, but the effects are very small. Having an employee at the nursery school who is a graduate, specifically a qualified teacher, raises children’s scores at age 5 and 7 by two percent of a standard deviation. Attending a nursery school rated outstanding is associated with a better performance in the Early Years Foundation Stage at age 5 of about four percent of a standard deviation.

 

Source: Blanden, J., Hansen, K., & McNally, S. (2017). Quality in Early Years Settings And Children’s School Achievement. London, England: Centre for Economic Performance.

Manning, M., Garvis, G., Fleming, C., & Wong, G.T.W. (2017). The Relationship Between Teacher Qualification and The Quality of The Early Childhood Care and Learning Environment. Canberra, Australia: ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods.… Read the rest

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