Jingchun Nie and colleagues conducted a randomised controlled trial to examine the effects of providing free glasses to pupils in a poor rural area of Western China.
study, screening and vision testing were provided to 1,974 grade seven and
eight (Year 8 and 9) pupils from 31 schools located in northern Shaanxi
province in China before they were divided into treatment and control groups.
Free glasses were distributed in treatment schools to pupils found to need
them, regardless of whether they had a pair of glasses already. In contrast, pupils
in the control group solely received a prescription for glasses. The glasses
usage of the treatment group increased from 31% at baseline at the start of the
school year to 72% at the end of the school year, while that of the control
group increased from 28% to 50%.
questioned pupils about their academic aspirations, administered a standardised
exam using items drawn from a bank of questions developed by the Trends in
International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), and measured the dropout
rate to evaluate the intervention. Findings were as follows:
the pupils without glasses at baseline, the provision of glasses increased
their maths achievement (effect size = +0.196), while there was no effect on pupils
who already had glasses at baseline.
glasses also increased pupils’ aspiration for attending academic high schools
(instead of vocational schools) by 9% on average.
glasses reduced the rate of dropout by 44% among the pupils who did not own
glasses at baseline.
Source: Seeing is believing: Experimental evidence on the impact of eyeglasses on academic performance, aspirations and dropout among junior high school students in rural China (May 2019), Economic Development and Cultural Change DOI: 101086700631
The results of a randomised controlled trial, published in Journal of Educational Psychology, suggest that a greater emphasis on interleaved practice may dramatically improve maths test scores for grade 7 (Year 8) pupils. Whereas most mathematics worksheets consist of a block of problems devoted to the same skill or concept, an interleaved worksheet is arranged so that no two consecutive problems require the same strategy.
and colleagues conducted the study with 54 classes in a large school district
in Florida during the 2017–2018 school year. Over a period of four months, the
classes periodically completed either interleaved or blocked worksheets, and
then both groups completed an interleaved review worksheet. All pupils
completed the same problems. One month later, pupils took an unannounced test
which was set by the researchers. Pupils who had completed the interleaved
assignments performed much better on the unannounced test than those in the
blocked assignment group (effect size = +0.83).
researchers suggest that the large effect sizes observed in the study for
interleaved maths practice may be due to the learning strategies it involves,
which force the pupil to choose an appropriate strategy for each problem on the
basis of the problem itself. They also identified some limitations of the study
– particularly that the interleaving pupils took longer to complete their
worksheets so effectively spent more time on each topic.
Source: A randomized controlled trial of interleaved
mathematics practice (May 2019). Journal of
Research published in Frontiers in Psychology looks at the effects of a nine-week programme of daily exercise on children’s cognitive performance, aerobic fitness and physical activity levels.
den Berg and colleagues conducted a cluster randomised controlled trial in 21
classes in eight Dutch primary schools. A total of 512 children aged 9 to 12
participated. The intervention consisted of daily classroom-based exercise
breaks of moderate to vigorous intensity. Each break lasted approximately ten minutes,
and children were asked to mimic dance moves from a video. Children in the control
group watched 10- to 15-minute information and educational videos related to
the body, exercise and sports.
after the intervention, children were asked to perform four cognitive tasks to
measure their cognitive performance in selective attention, inhibition and
memory retrieval. Children’s aerobic fitness was measured with a shuttle run
test, and accelerometers were used to measure physical activity throughout the
At the end of the nine weeks, the exercise intervention had no effect on children’s cognitive performance or aerobic fitness. Children in the intervention group spent 2.9 minutes more of the school day involved in moderate to vigorous physical activity compared to the children in the control group. The study concludes that daily exercise breaks can be implemented in the classroom in order to promote physical activity during school time, but don’t improve children’s cognitive performance.
Source: Improving cognitive performance of 9-12 years
old children: Just Dance? A randomized controlled trial (February 2019), Frontiers in Psychology 10:174
A discussion paper from the IZA Institute of Labor Economics reports on a randomised controlled trial to improve teacher-pupil-parent feedback in a rural area of central China with a large proportion of left-behind children (children who have both parents working in cities, and are living away from home).
W Stanley Siebert and colleagues collected data from over 4,000 primary school children (Years 4 and 6) over two school terms, which included academic scores from standardised tests. One class from each year group in each school was randomly chosen to be in the feedback group. In these classes, all pupils received bi-weekly feedback from their teachers on their schoolwork and behaviour. Additionally, one-third of pupils in these classes were randomly selected to also have their bi-weekly feedback sent to their parents.
The results suggest that feedback does have a positive
effect on improving maths and language scores for both left-behind and non-left
behind children. In maths, there was an effect size of +0.16 standard
deviations in Year 4 and +0.20 standard deviations in Year 6. For language the
effect size was +0.09 standard deviations for Year 4 and +0.20 standard
deviations for Year 6. When feedback was
communicated to parents the achievement gains were larger for younger
left-behind children than for non-left behind children. For left-behind
children in Year 4 there was an additional +0.30 standard deviations
improvement in maths.
feedback, parent-teacher communication, and academic performance: Experimental
evidence from rural China (February 2018), IZA
Institute of Labor Economics
The MindOut programme is a social-emotional learning programme, developed in Ireland, and based on CASEL’s five core competencies for social-emotional learning: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship management and responsible decision-making. A new article by Katherine Dowling and colleagues in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence reports the results of a cluster-randomised controlled trial of the programme.
The study took place in 34 secondary schools in Ireland (17
intervention, 17 control) with high levels of disadvantage (at least 70% of pupils
classified as educationally disadvantaged). Teachers from the intervention
schools took part in a one-day training session, and then delivered the MindOut
programme over 13 weekly sessions. A total of 675 pupils (ages 15-18) completed
a baseline assessment, with 497 pupils remaining in the study
post-intervention. A range of measures were used to evaluate the impact on social-emotional
skills, mental health and well-being and academic outcomes.
Results showed that for some social and emotional skills,
there were significant improvements for intervention pupils, including the use
of more positive coping strategies and increased social support coping. On
mental health and well-being, the intervention significantly reduced levels of
stress and depressive symptoms. However, there was no effect on academic
outcomes (pupils’ achievement motivation as rated by teachers, and attitudes
Source: A cluster
randomized-controlled trial of the MindOut social and emotional learning program
for disadvantaged post-primary school students (April 2019), Journal of Youth and Adolescence
A randomised controlled trial published in Frontiers of Psychology, assesses the impact of a kindergarten-based yoga programme on cognitive performance, visual-motor coordination, and inattentive and hyperactive behaviours in five-year-old Tunisian children.
Forty-five children (28 female and 17 male) took part in the
12-week trial, and were randomly assigned to one of three groups. Fifteen
children performed Hatha yoga twice a week for 30 minutes per session, 15
children performed generic physical education twice a week for 30 minutes per
session, and another 15 children performed no kind of physical activity, and
served as a control group.
Prior to and after the 12 weeks, all children completed a
visual attention test and a visual-motor precision test, and teachers evaluated
their inattention and hyperactivity behaviours. The three interventions were
conducted in parallel and supervised by teachers who were not involved in
rating the children’s behaviour pre- and post-test.
Sana Jarraya and colleagues found that yoga had a positive
impact on children’s inattention and hyperactivity compared to the other two
groups. Yoga also had a positive impact on the completion times for two
visual-motor precision tasks in comparison to children in the physical
education group. The visual attention scores of the yoga group were also higher
in comparison to the control group.
The researchers concluded that yoga could be a cost-effective
exercise for enhancing cognitive and behavioural factors relevant for leaning
and academic achievement among young children.
Source: 12 weeks
of kindergarten-based yoga practice increases visual attention, visual-motor
precision and decreases behavior of inattention and hyperactivity in 5-year-old
children (April 2019), Frontiers in