Do evidence-based programmes work in every context?

Researchers from The Social Research Unit at Dartington, along with the Universities of Exeter and York, have analysed the impact of three evidence-based programmes implemented in Birmingham as part of the city’s “Brighter Futures” strategy. A new article describing their findings illustrates that context matters.

The three programmes evaluated were the Incredible Years BASIC parenting programme, PATHS (Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies), and the Triple-P parenting programme. In each case, a randomised controlled trial was conducted with validated standardised measures. The findings were as follows:

  • Incredible Years yielded reductions in negative parenting behaviours among parents, reductions in child behaviour problems, and improvements in children’s relationships.
  • In the PATHS trial, modest improvements in emotional health and behavioural development after one year disappeared by the end of year two.
  • There were no effects for Triple-P.

The authors suggest that much can be learned from the strengths and limitations of the Birmingham experience.

Source: The impact of three evidence-based programmes delivered in public systems in Birmingham, UK (2012), International Journal of Conflict and Violence, 6(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).