Measuring the impact of play on social and emotional learning across countries [CIES Presentation]

This presentation was part of a CIES 2022 panel on measuring learning through play and child SEL outcomes across humanitarian and LMIC contexts. The presentation focuses primarily on the development of a new SEL tool that is being used as part of impact evaluations for five learning through play implementation programs across five countries.

PLAY overview CIES (Dubeck et al., 2022)

Play has the potential to transform the global learning crisis. In infancy and early childhood, play builds a strong foundation for later learning by improving brain development and growth (Goldstein, 2012). In education systems that lack capacity to support children effectively, play brings its own powerful engine to drive learning—the joyful, engaged intrinsic motivation of children themselves (Zosh et al., 2017). In this way, play contributes to the holistic development of children, helping to prepare them for the challenges of the current and future world. Accordingly, there is an urgent need to improve measurement of playful learning, to be able to add to the evidence base on what the benefits of play are, how playful learning takes place, and how it can be promoted at home and at school across the lifespan. This presentation focuses on a renewed conceptualization of playful learning and describes an innovative approach to measuring how settings contribute to playful learning for children ages 0 to 12, supported by the Lego Foundation. The settings we examine include homes, classrooms and ECD centers. Following Tseng and Seideman (2007), we view settings as consisting of social interactions (i.e. between teachers or caregivers and children) and the organization of resources (e.g. learning materials, games). First, we will present our conceptual framework which identifies six constructs to guide our measurement strategy. The constructs, such as ‘support for exploration’, represent the ways in which a setting supports playful learning. Next, we will present our contextualization framework which guides how we are adapting and modifying the measurement tools to different contexts. The tool consists of a protocol to observe adult-child interactions and survey measures conducted with teachers, caregivers and primary school pupils. As part of the development process for these measurement tools, observation and survey measures will go through a three-phase development process in Kenya, Ghana, Colombia, and Jordan. The Build phase involved collecting qualitative data from teachers, caregivers and students to understand their perception of playful learning and how it is supported at home and at school. Next, an Adapt phase took place where the initial versions of the measurement tools underwent cognitive interviewing, field adaptation, and a small pilot to adjust and extend the items in the tool. The third Test phase is a full pilot of the instruments, and the data will undergo rigorous psychometric analyses to review the validity and reliability of the tools in the four country contexts. We will use the results to adjust the instruments and to finalize the conceptual framework and contextualization strategies. The final toolkit will be publicly available towards the end of 2022 with supporting materials for contextualization, piloting, training and analysis. The toolkit will be available on a public platform designed to promote sharing of data collected using the tool and to collaborate to continually improve approaches to measuring support for playful learning.

System Supports for Effective Large-Scale Reading Interventions (Learning at Scale)

Learning outcomes are low and instruction is poor in many low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). These shortcomings are particularly concerning given the substantial learning loss due to COVID-19 from which many systems are suffering. The Learning at Scale study identified eight of the most effective large-scale education programs in LMICs and now is examining what factors contribute to successful improvements in learning outcomes at scale (see list of programs on last page of this brief). These programs were selected based on their demonstrated gains in reading outcomes at-scale, from either midline or endline impact evaluations. The study addresses three overarching research questions, focused on understanding (1) the components of instructional practices (Brief 1), (2) instructional supports (Brief 2), and (3) system supports (Brief 3) that lead to effective instruction. This brief focuses specifically on system supports. It addresses the following research question: What system supports are required to deliver effective training and support to teachers and to promote effective classroom practices?

Instructional Support for Effective Large-Scale Reading Interventions (Learning at Scale)

Learning outcomes are low and instruction is poor in many low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). These shortcomings are particularly concerning given the substantial learning loss due to COVID-19 from which many systems are suffering. The Learning at Scale study identified eight of the most effective large-scale education programs in LMICs and now is examining what factors contribute to successful improvements in learning outcomes at scale (see list of programs on last page of this brief). These programs were selected based on their demonstrated gains in reading outcomes at-scale, from either midline or endline impact evaluations. The study addresses three overarching research questions, focused on understanding (1) the components of instructional practices (Brief 1), (2) instructional supports (Brief 2), and (3) system supports (Brief 3) that lead to effective instruction. This brief focuses specifically on instructional supports. It addresses the following research question: What methods of training and support lead to teachers adopting effective classroom practices in successful, large-scale literacy programs?

Instructional Practices for Effective Large-Scale Reading Interventions (Learning at Scale)

The Learning at Scale study aimed to investigate factors contributing to successful improvements in learning outcomes at scale in eight of the most effective large-scale education programs in LMICs (see the map of programs on the last page of this brief). These programs were selected based on their demonstrated gains in reading outcomes at-scale, from either midline or endline impact evaluations. The study addressed three overarching research questions, focused on understanding the components of instructional practices (Brief 1), instructional supports (Brief 2), and system supports (Brief 3) that lead to effective instruction. This brief focuses specifically on instructional practices. It addresses the following research question: What classroom ingredients (e.g., teaching practices, classroom environment) lead to learning in programs that are effective at scale?

Learning at Scale Interim Report

The Learning at Scale study was designed to identify existing early grade reading programs with demonstrated impact on basic skills at scale and to conduct in-depth investigations of these programs to determine what makes them successful. After an extensive search, eight programs (spanning seven countries) were selected for inclusion in the study. Research on these programs has been conducted in order to answer the three overarching research questions, focused on understanding the components of instructional practices, instructional supports, and system supports that lead to effective instruction. Learning at Scale data collection activities for some of these programs were delayed due to COVID-19. However, with demand for information about how to implement effective interventions at large scale at an all-time high, we believe that the timely sharing of findings from Learning at Scale is essential. Accordingly, this interim report provides preliminary findings from our study to date, highlighting key high-level findings across all eight programs, as well as quantitative and qualitative findings from primary research for select programs. The Learning at Scale study is led by RTI International, as part of the Center for Global Development (CGD) education research consortium, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Jordan Early Grade Reading and Mathematics Initiative (RAMP) Endline Survey Report

This report presents the findings of the Jordan Early Grade Reading and Mathematics Initiative (RAMP) endline survey conducted at the end of the 2018–2019 school year (in May 2019).

Is It Possible to Improve Learning at Scale? Reflections on the Process of Identifying Large-Scale Successful Education Interventions

Improving learning outcomes at scale is hard. That may seem obvious, but only recently have policymakers and donors become aware of just how dire—and broad—the learning crisis is. Most of their efforts to improve learning have been pilot programs, and although in some cases it has been possible to improve outcomes at this small scale, it is an entirely different challenge at scale, which can involve thousands of schools—the level at which change must happen to fix the crisis.

Setting Reading Benchmarks - Evidence from India [CIES 2019 Presentation]

This presentation is based on an activity that was designed to apply lessons learned and best practices from the recent EGRA Benchmarks and Standards Research Report (RTI International, 2018) to a five-language benchmarking activity for early grade reading in India.

2018 Early Grade Reading and Mathematics Initiative (RAMP) Lot Quality Assurance Sampling Assessment

This report summarizes the findings of the 2018 Early Grade Reading and Mathematics Initiative (RAMP) Lot Quality Assurance Sampling Assessment, measuring impact between 2017 and 2018. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and UK Aid have funded RAMP as a national effort designed to improve the reading and mathematics skills and performance of students in Jordan from kindergarten 2 through grade 3 (K2–G3). This five-year program began on January 1, 2015, and is scheduled to end on December 31, 2019. Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah formally launched RAMP as part of the broader Ministry of Education (MoE) initiative to improve education. The Research Triangle Institute (RTI) International leads implementation with its partners: Queen Rania Teacher’s Academy, ChangeAgent for Arab Development and Education Reform, We Love Reading, The Kaizen Company, Mercy Corps, Dajani Consulting, and Prodigy Consulting. The RAMP team and the MOE conducted a Lot Quality Assurance Sampling (LQAS) assessment in November 2018. Approximately 200 assessors (most of whom were MOE supervisors) were trained to collect reading and mathematics performance data across all 42 field directorates in the kingdom. For this activity, an approach was used at the school level, which led to a final sample of more than 39,000 Grade 2 and Grade 3 students in 2,076 schools. Performance comparisons made on three key indicators (reading comprehension, oral reading fluency, and mathematics) provides illustrative evidence of the gains made by RAMP schools over one school year. Large gains were seen on reading comprehension with the percent of students reaching the comprehension benchmark, increasing from 43% in 2017 to 55% in 2018. Gains in terms of oral reading fluency increased from 13% in 2017 to 19% in 2018. The smallest gains were in terms of mathematics (where the percent of students reaching the benchmark improved only slightly from 28% in 2017 to 30% in 2018).

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