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
Engaging parents in their children’s education, both at home and at school, can be an effective and low-cost way of improving learning outcomes for pupils. A study published in European Economic Review examines whether academic achievement can be improved by increasing parental involvement through scheduled parent-teacher meetings.
Asad Islam conducted the randomised controlled trial in
schools in two southern districts of Bangladesh. Seventy-six primary schools
were chosen randomly from more than 200 in these regions, with 40 schools
randomly allocated to the intervention group and 36 to the control group. Pupils
in these schools all came from low socioeconomic backgrounds, and a quarter of
parents did not complete primary school.
The intervention involved monthly face-to-face meetings
between parents and teachers over a period of two academic years. At each
15-minute meeting, teachers discussed with parents their child’s academic
progress and provided them with a report card for their child. Pupil achievement
outcomes were measured using standardised test scores.
Overall, test scores of pupils in the intervention schools
increased by 0.26 standard deviations (SD) in the first year, and 0.38 SD by the
end of the second year of the intervention. The study also found that pupils in
the intervention schools had made improvements in their reading and writing
abilities and general knowledge. Parents who attended the parent-teacher
meetings reported that they felt encouraged to spend more time at home helping
children study or do homework. Both parents and teachers also reported improved
attitudes in the behaviour and confidence of their children.
meetings and student outcomes: Evidence from a developing country (January
2019), European Economic Review, Volume
A randomised controlled trial of two new maths apps to support young children’s early maths development has shown positive results. The apps, “Maths 3–5” and “Maths 4–6”, are based on core mathematical concepts in number and shape, and space and measure, which are covered in the Early Years Foundation Stage, and also start to introduce children to topics covered in Key Stage 1.
Laura Outhwaite and colleagues conducted the randomised controlled trial of the apps with 389 children aged 4–5 years from 12 schools in the UK. The trial took place over 12 weeks in the last weeks of their Reception school year before pupils moved to Key Stage 1. Pupils were randomised to either use the apps in addition to standard maths teaching activities (treatment); use the apps instead of a regular small group-based maths activity (time-equivalent treatment), or continue with usual maths teaching activities (control).
The results showed that pupils in the treatment group made more progress on standardised assessments of maths performance over 12 weeks than pupils in the control group (effect size = +0.31). Similarly, pupils in the time-equivalent treatment made more progress in maths performance than pupils in the control group (effect size = +0.21). There was no significant difference in maths performance between pupils in the two treatment groups (effect size = +0.08).
A randomised controlled trial of apps developed for primary children in Malawi, which we covered in a previous issue of Best Evidence in Brief, also showed positive results for maths achievement.
Source: Raising early achievement in math with interactive apps: A randomized control trial (February 2019), Journal of Educational Psychology, 111(2)
Helping pupils to understand the logical principles underlying maths may improve their mathematical achievement, according to the findings of a randomised controlled trial published by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF).
Mathematical Reasoning lessons focus on developing pupils’ understanding of the logic principles underlying maths, and cover principles such as place value and the inverse relation between addition and subtraction. One hundred and sixty English primary schools took part in the trial, and were randomly allocated to receive either Mathematical Reasoning or to be in the control group. The control group was given the opportunity to take part in the programme the following year. Teachers in the intervention schools delivered the programme to Year 2 pupils over 12 to 15 weeks as part of their usual maths lessons. Learning was supported by online games, which could be used by pupils at school and at home.
The independent evaluation by a team from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) found a small but statistically significant effect size of +0.08 on maths achievement for pupils who took part in the programme, compared to other pupils. It had the same impact for pupils eligible for free school meals. They also found some evidence that the programme had a positive impact on mathematical reasoning.
A new research brief by Catherine Augustine and colleagues at the RAND Corporation examines findings from an evaluation of restorative practices as implemented in schools in Pennsylvania, USA. Restorative practices are described as inclusive and non-punitive ways to respond to conflict and build community, and these practices were implemented through the SaferSanerSchools Whole-School Change programme. Some key elements of the programme include:
Affective statements: Personal expressions of feeling in response to specific positive or negative behaviours of others.
Small impromptu conferences: Questioning exercises that quickly resolve lower-level incidents involving two or more people.
Fair process: A set of transparent practices designed to create open lines of communication, assure people that their feelings and ideas have been taken into account, and foster a healthy community as a means of treating people respectfully throughout a decision-making process so that they perceive that process to be fair, regardless of the outcome.
The research team conducted a randomised controlled trial of restorative practices in 44 schools in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, between June 2015 and June 2017. Data included findings from observations, surveys, and interviews, and administrative.
Key findings of the study were as follows:
Restorative practices were successful in reducing pupil suspensions.
Restorative practices reduced suspension rates of elementary grade (primary school) pupils, African American pupils, pupils from low-income families, and female pupils more than for pupils not in these groups.
Restorative practices did not improve academic outcomes, nor did they reduce suspensions for middle school pupils or suspensions for violent offences.
Overall, the research team concludes that restorative practices are promising, particularly for elementary schools seeking to reduce suspension rates.