Measuring Executive Function Skills in Young Children in Kenya

Interest inmeasuring executive function skills in young children in lowand middle-income country contexts has been stymied by the lack of assessments that are both easy to deploy and scalable. This study reports on an initial effort to develop a tablet-based battery of executive function tasks, which were designed and extensively studied in the United States, for use in Kenya. Participants were 193 children, aged 3–6 years old, who attended early childhood development and education centers. The rates of individual task completion were high (65–100%), and 85% of children completed three or more tasks. Assessors indicated that 90% of all task administrations were of acceptable quality. An executive function composite score was approximately normally distributed, despite higher-than-expected floor and ceiling effects on inhibitory control tasks. Children’s simple reaction time (β = –0.20, p = .004), attention-related behaviors during testing (β = 0.24, p = .0005), and age (β = –0.24, p = .0009) were all uniquely related to performance on the executive function composite. Results are discussed as they inform efforts to develop valid and reliable measures of executive function skills among young children in developing country contexts.

Experience implementing non-mother tongue reading: Tusome in Kenya- CIES 2018 Presentation

CIES 2018 Presentation, given by Dunston Kwayumba. In many developing countries, subjects are taught and tested in the child’s second or third language. In Kenya, for example, all subjects are taught and examined in English, other than languages such as Kiswahili. Understanding how language skills transfer in language complex environments like Kenya is relatively under-researched using empirical methods. Using an explanatory mixed methods design, the proposed research study will use correlation analysis to examine the effect of literacy interventions on learning outcomes in other subjects. It will answer research questions on the effect of literacy intervention on learning outcomes in English, Kiswahili and other subjects taught at class 2 in Kenya. The study will also investigate the perceptions of head teachers, teachers and curriculum support officers on the specific aspects of intervention programs that could be attributed to the improved or lack of improvement in learning outcomes in the non-language subjects. This is a critical research topic given the number of countries that have been engaging in large scale literacy interventions without careful thought on whether the expected and pre-supposed impact on learning outcomes in other subjects is empirically evident. This is essential to creating and sustaining community buy-in into these literacy programs, as it is local communities that are often the most resistant to local language literacy programs given the unclear relationship with learning outcomes in these critical other subjects.

Examining the secondary effects of mother-tongue literacy instruction in Kenya: Impacts on student learning in English, Kiswahili, and mathematics

Limited rigorous evidence is available from sub-Saharan Africa regarding whether children who learn to read in their mother tongue will have higher learning outcomes in other subjects. A randomised controlled trial of mother-tongue literacy instruction, the Primary Math and Reading (PRIMR) Initiative, was implemented in Kenya from 2013 to 2014. We compared the impacts of the PRIMR mother-tongue treatment group in two languages with those of another group that did not use mother tongue, but utilised the same instructional components. Results showed that assignment to the mother-tongue group had no additional benefits for English or Kiswahili learning outcomes beyond the non-mother-tongue group, and that the mother-tongue group had somewhat lower mathematics outcomes. Classroom observational analysis showed that assignment to the mother-tongue group had only small impacts on the usage of mother tongue in other subjects. Advocates for mother-tongue programmes must consider such results alongside local implementation resistance in programme design.

Longitudinal Midterm Report for the Tayari Early Childhood Development and Education Programme

Midterm evaluation of longitudinal study conducted through the Tayari Early Childhood Development and Education Programme. Tayari is an intervention implemented by the Kenyan Ministry of Education and four counties, with technical support from RTI International and funding from the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF). Tayari is focused on designing, piloting and testing the cost effectiveness of investments to increase school readiness for children in Early Childhood Development and Education (ECDE) centres in Uasin Gishu, Siaya, Laikipia and Nairobi counties.

Does technology improve reading outcomes? Comparing the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of ICT interventions for early grade reading in Kenya

Article published in the International Journal of Educational Development, Volume 49, July 2016, Pages 204–214. Published abstract: Education policymakers are investing in information and communications technology (ICT) without a research base on how ICT improves outcomes. There is limited research on the effects of different types of ICT investments on outcomes. The Kenya Primary Math and Reading (PRIMR) study implemented a randomized controlled trial comparing the effects and cost of three interventions – e-readers for students, tablets for teachers, and the base PRIMR program with tablets for instructional supervisors. The results show that the ICT investments do not improve literacy outcomes significantly more than the base non-ICT instructional program. Our findings show that cost considerations should be paramount in selecting ICT investments in the education sector.

Case Study: Tangerine:Class for data-informed instructional decision making in Kenya

This case study will highlight practical lesson learned from the use of mobile devices with Tangerine®:Class open-source software for data-informed instructional decision-making from a year-long, rigorous study conducted by RTI International in Kenya. Throughout 2013, twenty-one teachers and 600 pupils used Tangerine:Class on Android tablets in a randomized controlled trial. While the trial was focused on early reading instruction, the applicable lessons learned are also for mathematics and independent of subject matter. Practical findings concern training and support, the logistics of individual pupil assessments in large classrooms; the nature of instructional decision-making; and the use of data and interactions between teachers, headteachers and parents. This is a chapter of an edited book "Mobile Learning and Mathematics" (Crompton, H. and Traxler, J., eds.) available at