Social-emotional learning for preschool children

This study from the Early Childhood Education Journal looks at the effects of an SEL curriculum on the social and emotional competence of preschool pupils. Participating teachers and pupils were assigned to either a treatment group or a control group. In the treatment group, Strong Start Pre-K was implemented, a programme that covers specific objectives and goals that help to prevent emotional and mental health problems; optional booster lessons are included to reinforce skills. In the control group, Strong Start Pre-K was not implemented.

The study showed a significant decrease in internalising behaviours and more improvement in the pupil–teacher relationship in the treatment group. The results also supported the use of the optional booster lessons.

To learn more about effective approaches to social-emotional learning, see “Social and emotional learning programmes that work”, an article from a recent issue of Better: Evidence-based Education magazine.

Source: Promoting social and emotional learning in preschool students: A study of strong start pre-k (2012), Early Childhood Education Journal, 40(3)

How to decide on an evidence-based approach for your school

In this article from Better: Evidence-based Education magazine, David Andrews, dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Education, describes a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis that educators can use when deciding whether to implement an evidence-based approach.

He says, “Adopting and implementing an evidence-based approach requires faith in the presented evidence, followed by a commitment to the appropriate implementation fidelity. Understanding the depth of the commitment required will determine whether or not the approach ‘works’ in specific settings for specific educators and their students. Consequently, educators must evaluate the feasibility of the fidelity that is required to get the desired outcome”.

The next issue of Better: Evidence-based Education magazine, published in June, focuses on “Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds”. Articles include:

  • Sport and educational achievement;
  • Mindful yoga for urban youth; and
  • How does sleep affect academic performance?

Source: In search of feasible fidelity (2012), Better: Evidence-based Education

Recent policy developments in school sport

This policy update from the House of Commons library provides a summary of the debate around the type and level of provision of sport and physical education (PE) in schools. The Department for Education has confirmed that PE will remain a compulsory subject after the review of the National Curriculum in England.

Since the Secretary of State for Education’s October 2010 statement, calling for a new direction in school sport, there have been many significant policy changes, and the update provides a useful precis.

The next issue of Better: Evidence-based Education, published in June, takes as its theme “Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds” and looks at the evidence that sport and other non-academic activities, such as yoga and programmes to address problem behaviour, can boost children’s physical and mental health and help them to learn.

Source: School Sport (2012), House of Commons Library

Excellent teaching needs political support

In the latest edition of Better: Evidence-based Education, Estelle Morris explores the interdependent relationship between education and politics. Looking forward, she describes the levers that are increasingly recognised as the way to ensure the education system delivers high standards for all pupils, with pedagogical change being the most important. She wants to see research brought to the fore, with better access to research for teachers and an improved relationship between politicians and education researchers.

Source: Managing change – The relationship between education and politics (2012), Better: Evidence-based Education, 4(2)

Harnessing grammar: Weaving words and shaping texts

The Department for Education’s Schools Research News has picked up on an article in a recent issue of Better: Evidence-based Education that has already proved popular with readers. It summarised research by the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Writing at the University of Exeter, which has developed and tested an intervention that aims to improve secondary pupils’ use and knowledge of grammar by embedding grammar teaching as part of writing lessons.

The study showed strong evidence for the beneficial impact of teaching writing in this way. However, the intervention was most effective with able writers, while for some less able writers it had a negative effect. This could be because the language used, and the needs addressed, were more relevant to able writers.

Source: Harnessing Grammar: Weaving words and shaping texts (2011), Better: Evidence-based Education, 3(2).

CPD to improve vocabulary teaching

The latest issue of Better: Evidence-based Education includes an article on using Teacher Study Groups to improve vocabulary teaching. This new approach to professional development for teaching vocabulary, uses year level team meetings as a forum for new learning and enhancing existing curricula to conform to evidence-based principles. This approach can lead to enhanced outcomes in vocabulary, and significant change in teaching practice.

Source: Improving vocabulary teaching through teacher study groups (2011), Better: Evidence-based Education, 4(1).