2015: Urban Myths about Learning and Education, 1st Edition

Together with Casper Hulshof I wrote a popular book in Dutch on educational myths in 2013.

In 2015 a whole new, updated and upgraded version will be published internationally by Elsevier/Academic Press, written by myself, prof. Paul A. Kirschner and Casper Hulshof.

The manuscript has been sent in and… check here.

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Validity and Values: The debate about education research.

Pedro:

A very relevant blog post on the distinction between evidence and values, both important in education, but very different and sometimes problematic when mixed.

Originally posted on Evidence into practice:

“It seems to me what is called for is an exquisite balance between two conflicting needs: the most skeptical scrutiny of all hypotheses that are served up to us and at the same time a great openness to new ideas … If you are only skeptical, then no new ideas make it through to you … On the other hand, if you are open to the point of gullibility, … then you cannot distinguish the useful ideas from the worthless ones.”

Carl Sagan in “The Burden of Skepticism”

Much of the debate regarding the role of research evidence in education appears to involve a series of misconceptions about what evidence can and – perhaps more importantly – cannot tell us.

The nature of empirical claims
Education has long been vulnerable to untested – or simply false – empirical claims. These have frequently been accepted and propagated (through CPD and teacher…

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Certain personality traits more important than intelligence for predicting success in education

Well, you need to have some intelligence of course, but new research seems to suggest that personality outsmarts intelligence at school. Dr Arthur Poropat from Griffith’s School of Applied Psychology has conducted the largest ever reviews of personality and academic performance. He based these reviews on the fundamental personality factors (Conscientiousness, Openness, Agreeableness, Emotional Stability, and Extraversion, aka the big five) and found Conscientiousness and Openness have the biggest influence on academic success. And more important: other people rating these personality factors seem to be the best predictor of academic success.

In short:

 

  • First meta-analysis of other-rated, FFM-specific measures with academic performance
  • FFM has some of the strongest correlations with academic performance ever reported.
  • GPA correlations with Conscientiousness exceeded those with intelligence.
  • Teacher-rated personality is as valid as parent- or peer-rated personality.
  • Teacher- and peer-rated personality should be used to guide education & development.

 

From the press release:

Dr Poropat says educational institutions need to focus less upon intelligence and instead, pay more attention to each student’s personality.

“With respect to learning, personality is more useful than intelligence for guiding both students and teachers,” Dr Poropat said.

“In practical terms, the amount of effort students are prepared to put in, and where that effort is focused, is at least as important as whether the students are smart.

“And a student with the most helpful personality will score a full grade higher than an average student in this regard.”

In Dr Poropat’s research, a student’s assessment of their own personality is as useful for predicting university success as intelligence rankings.

However, when people who know the student well provide the personality rating, it is nearly four times more accurate for predicting grades.

Dr Poropat said understanding how personality impacts on academic achievement is a vital when it comes to helping students reach future success.

“Intelligence tests have always been closely linked with education and grades and therefore relied upon to predict who would do well,” Dr Poropat said.

“The impact of personality on study is genuinely surprising for educational researchers, and for anyone who thinks they did well at school because they are ‘smart’.”

Previous studies have shown that students who think they are smart often stop trying and their performance declines over time, while those who consider themselves hard workers get progressively better.

Dr Poropat said the best news for students is that it’s possible to develop the most important personality traits linked with academic success.

“Personality does change, and some educators have trained aspects of students’ Conscientiousness and Openness, leading to greater learning capacity.

“By contrast, there is little evidence that intelligence can be ‘taught’, despite the popularity of brain-training apps.”

Abstract of the study:

Considerable gaps remain in teachers’ and students’ understanding of factors contributing to learning and educational outcomes, including personality. Consequently, current knowledge about personality within educational settings was reviewed, especially its relationships with learning activities and academic performance. Personality dimensions have previously been shown to be related to learning strategies and activities, and to be reliably correlated with academic performance. However, personality is typically self-rated, introducing methodological disadvantages associated with informational and social desirability biases. A meta-analysis of other-rated personality demonstrated substantially higher correlations of academic performance with all of the dimensions of the Five-Factor Model of personality, which were not accounted for by associations with intelligence. The combined association of academic performance with all of the Five-Factor Model dimensions was one of the largest so far reported in education. The findings have implications for personality measurement. Teachers are able to assess students’ personalities to match educational activities to student dispositions, while students’ development of learning capacities can be facilitated by feedback on how their personalities are linked with effective learning.

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Handy and not only for journalists: Journalists’ guide to fMRI papers

Neuroscience is difficult, let’s be honest. And reading research and even press releases on research can be a burden.

Jon Simons made a blogpost that can come in handy for anyone interested in neurology and more specific in reading fMRI-papers. It is not meant to be prescriptive (or indeed exhaustive), but a few ideas of what to look for will hopefully benefit those wanting to report fMRI papers accurately in the media, as well as people who might simply wish to know how much they can reliably interpret from articles they read.

An example:

How many subjects are involved?  There’s no perfect number, but anything less than 15-20 and you should ask serious questions about reliability of the results for most designs (although some studies in domains like perception that collect lots of data for each subject can use fewer).  Were any subjects excluded after the data were collected – if so, why?  If there are different conditions in the experiment, was their order counterbalanced to avoid possible order effects (e.g., due to fatigue or practice-related improvements)?

Check the post here!

 

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How music class can spark language development

As a musician I’v written here before about the influence of music on other fields of expertise. But passively listening to music is maybe not enough. Music training has well-known benefits for the developing brain, especially for at-risk children. But youngsters who sit passively in a music class may be missing out, according to new Northwestern University research.

From the press release:

In a study designed to test whether the level of engagement matters, researchers found that children who regularly attended music classes and actively participated showed larger improvements in how the brain processes speech and reading scores than their less-involved peers after two years.

The research, which appears online on Dec. 16 in the open-access journal Frontiers in Psychology, also showed that the neural benefits stemming from participation occurred in the same areas of the brain that are traditionally weak in children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“Even in a group of highly motivated students, small variations in music engagement — attendance and class participation — predicted the strength of neural processing after music training,” said study lead author Nina Kraus, the Hugh Knowles professor of communication sciences in the School of Communication and of neurobiology and physiology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern.

The type of music class may also be important, the researchers found. The neural processing of students who played instruments in class improved more than the children who attended the music appreciation group, according to the study.

“Our results support the importance of active experience and meaningful engagement with sound to stimulate changes in the brain,” said Kraus, director of Northwestern’s Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory.

The data was collected as part of a multi-year collaboration with The Harmony Project, a non-profit that has provided music education and instruments to disadvantaged children in Los Angeles for more than a decade.

Rather than using an active control group, the researchers looked for differences within the group of children participating in Harmony Project classes.

Unlike most music studies, which often estimate brain activity using paper and pencil tests, Kraus directly assessed the brain by strategically placing electrode wires with button sensors on the students’ heads to capture the brain’s responses.

Northwestern and the Harmony Project joined forces several years ago after Harmony’s founder, Margaret Martin, approached Kraus seeking scientific evidence behind the striking academic success of the students. Despite a dropout rate of 50 percent or more in their neighborhoods, 93 percent of Harmony Project seniors have gone on to college since 2008.

Previous Northwestern findings based on Harmony Project data have shown that two years of music training – but not one – improved the brains’ ability to distinguish similar-sounding syllables, a skill linked to literacy.

“Music, then, can’t be thought of as a quick fix,” said Kraus.

That previous research, published in September in the Journal of Neuroscience, indicated that the community music program can literally ‘remodel’ a child’s brain in a way that improves sound processing and was the first direct evidence that the music training has a biological effect on children’s developing nervous systems.

Children from families of lower socioeconomic status process sound less efficiently, in part because of noisier environments and also due to linguistic deprivation — or not hearing enough complex words, sentences and concepts. This puts them at increased risk of academic failure or dropping out of school, said Kraus.

“Think of ‘neural noise’ as like static on the radio, with the announcer’s voice coming in faintly,” said Kraus.

Music training may be one way to boost how the brain processes sound to remove the interference, said Kraus.

“Speech processing efficiency is closely linked to reading, since reading requires the ability to segment speech strings into individual sound units,” said Kraus.

“A poor reader’s brain often processes speech suboptimally.”

“What we do and how we engage with sound has an effect on our nervous system,” said Kraus. “Spending time learning to play a musical instrument can have a profound effect on how your nervous system works.”

Abstract of the research:

Children from disadvantaged backgrounds often face impoverished auditory environments, such as greater exposure to ambient noise and fewer opportunities to participate in complex language interactions during development. These circumstances increase their risk for academic failure and dropout. Given the academic and neural benefits associated with musicianship, music training may be one method for providing auditory enrichment to children from disadvantaged backgrounds. We followed a group of primary-school students from gang reduction zones in Los Angeles, CA, USA for 2 years as they participated in Harmony Project. By providing free community music instruction for disadvantaged children, Harmony Project promotes the healthy development of children as learners, the development of children as ambassadors of peace and understanding, and the development of stronger communities. Children who were more engaged in the music program—as defined by better attendance and classroom participation—developed stronger brain encoding of speech after 2 years than their less-engaged peers in the program. Additionally, children who were more engaged in the program showed increases in reading scores, while those less engaged did not show improvements. The neural gains accompanying music engagement were seen in the very measures of neural speech processing that are weaker in children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Our results suggest that community music programs such as Harmony Project provide a form of auditory enrichment that counteracts some of the biological adversities of growing up in poverty, and can further support community-based interventions aimed at improving child health and wellness.

 

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Fruit and vegetables at school helps low income kids (but not high income kids)

According to a study executed by Meghan Longacre, PhD and Madeline Dalton, PhD of Dartmouth Hitchcock’s Norris Cotton Cancer Center and The Hood Center for Children and Families, fruits and vegetables provided at school deliver an important dietary boost to low income adolescents. Still, the evidence also shows that a different strategy may be needed to have the same positive effect on high income kids. The opposite was true for those high income adolescents who consumed fewer fruits and vegetables when school was in session, compared to summer months. While in school, all students consumed fruits and vegetables with similar frequency regardless of income level.

From the press release:

According to Longacre, “Innovation in school food offerings for kids has emphasized increased consumption of fruits and vegetables and it’s working for low income kids, but the evidence shows that a different strategy may be needed to have the same positive effect on high income kids.”

The Dartmouth research team, led by Dalton and Longacre, surveyed 1,885 NH and VT middle school students and their parents by phone. Using a unique longitudinal study design, they created a type of “natural experiment” by randomly allocating participants to be surveyed at different times of the year. This created comparable groups of adolescents who were, or were not, being exposed to school food by virtue of when they were surveyed. This facilitated comparison of fruit and vegetable consumption during the school months and over the summer. The survey asked the adolescents to recall fruit and vegetable consumption in the previous seven days. And no, fries don’t count.

Previous studies demonstrated that kids from low income households eat fruits and vegetables less often than their high income peers, but whether school food mitigates the situation was an open question. By comparing consumption in and out of school by income group, Longacre and Dalton provide key data to inform national policy about resource allocation for meals in schools.

According to Dalton, “This study confirms that the national and regional school food programs provide an important source of fruits and vegetables for low income adolescents, which we know is a key indicator of dietary quality.” Longacre adds, “Schools clearly have a role in providing healthy foods to children. Our data suggest that the most vulnerable students are benefitting the most from school food.”

Abstract of the research:

Objective

The aim of this study is to examine whether school food attenuates household income-related disparities in adolescents’ frequency of fruit and vegetable intake (FVI).

Method

Telephone surveys were conducted between 2007 and 2008 with adolescent-parent dyads from Northern New England; participants were randomly assigned to be surveyed at different times throughout the year. The main analysis comprised 1542 adolescents who typically obtained breakfast/lunch at school at least once/week. FVI was measured using 7-day recall of the number of times adolescents consumed fruits and vegetables. Fully adjusted linear regression was used to compare FVI among adolescents who were surveyed while school was in session (currently exposed to school food) to those who were surveyed when school was not in session (currently unexposed to school food).

Results

Mean FVI was 8.0 (SD = 5.9) times/week. Among adolescents unexposed to school food, household income and FVI were strongly, positively associated. In contrast, among adolescents exposed to school food, FVI was similar across all income categories. We found a significant cross-over interaction between school food and household income in which consuming food at school was associated with higher FVI among adolescents from low-income households versus lower FVI among adolescents from high-income households.

Conclusion

School food may mitigate income disparities in adolescent FVI. The findings suggest that the school food environment positively influences FVI among low-income adolescents.

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Both positive and negative experiences influence how genes affect the brain and behavior

Although media reports on genes are often misleading, this research shows how both positive and negative experiences influence how genetic variants affect the brain and thereby behavior. Maybe influence is not the correct word, ‘are associated with’ or ‘are correlated with’ seems more correct, as I look at the research. On the other hand, the interaction seems highly probable to me and the study is interesting as it shows how thinking about genes isn’t necessarily deterministic in nature (pun intended).

From the press release:

Every single high school student aged 17 to 18 years old in Västmanland, a Swedish county, was invited to participate in the study, and 1,337 agreed to do so. They anonymously completed questionnaires reporting on delinquency, family conflict, experiences of sexual abuse, and the quality of their relationship with their parents. They also provided a sample of saliva from which the researchers extracted DNA.

The Monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) gene is a key enzyme in the catabolism of brain neurotransmitters, monoamines, especially serotonin. Catabolism is the breaking down of complex materials and the releasing of energy within an organism. “About 25% of Caucasian men carry the less active variant of MAOA. Among them, those who experience physical abuse in childhood are more likely than those who are not abused to display serious antisocial behaviour from childhood through adulthood,” Hodgins explained. “Among females it is the high activity variant of the MAOA gene that interacts with adversity in childhood to increase the likelihood of antisocial behaviour.”

The brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) gene modulates neuronal plasticity. The term neuronal plasticity refers to our brain cells’ ability to reorganize pathways and connections throughout our lives. “The low expressing variants of BDNF are carried by approximately 30% of individuals and some previous studies had shown that this variant was associated with aggressive behaviour if carriers were exposed to aggressive peers. The third gene we studied was the serotonin transporter 5-HTTLPR,” Hodgins said. “The low activity variant of this gene is carried by approximately 20% of individuals. Among carriers of this low activity variant, those exposed to adversity in childhood are more likely than those who are not to display antisocial and aggressive behaviour.”

“We found that the three genetic variants interacted with each other and with family conflict and sexual abuse to increase the likelihood of delinquency, and with a positive parent-child relationship to decrease the risk of delinquency,” Hodgins explained. “Among carriers of the low activity variants of all three genes, those exposed to family conflict or sexual abuse or both reported high levels of delinquency while those who reported a positive and warm relationship with their parents reported little or no delinquency.” Thus, the same genetic variants were associated with high and low levels of delinquency depending on exposure to negative or positive environments.

In conclusion, variants of three common genes, MAOA, BDNF, and 5-HTTLPR, interacted with each other and with negative environmental factors to increase the risk of delinquency and with a positive environmental factor to decrease the risk of delinquency in a large sample of teenagers. “These findings add to those from other studies to show that genes affect the brain, and thereby behaviour, by altering sensitivity to the environment,” Hodgins said.

Abstract of the study:

Background. Previous evidence of gene-by-environment interactions associated with emotional and behavioral disorders is contradictory. Differences in findings may result from variation in valence and dose of the environmental factor, and/or failure to take account of gene-by-gene interactions. The present study investigated interactions between the brain-derived neurotrophic factor gene (BDNF Val66Met), the serotonin transporter gene linked polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR), the monoamine oxidase A (MAOA-uVNTR) polymorphisms, family conflict, sexual abuse, the quality of the child–parent relationship, and teenage delinquency.

Methods. In 2006, as part of the Survey of Adolescent Life in Västmanland, Sweden, 1337 high-school students, aged 17–18 years, anonymously completed questionnaires and provided saliva samples for DNA analyses.

Results. Teenage delinquency was associated with two-, three-, and four-way interactions of each of the genotypes and the three environmental factors. Significant four-way interactions were found for BDNFVal66Met×5-HTTLPR×MAOA-uVNTR×family conflicts, and for BDNF Val66Met×5-HTTLPR×MAOA-uVNTR×sexual abuse. Further, the two genotype combinations that differed the most in expression levels (BDNF Val66Met Val, 5-HTTLPR LL, MAOA-uVNTR LL (girls) and L (boys) vs BDNF Val66Met Val/Met, 5-HTTLPR S/LS, MAOA-uVNTR S/SS/LS) in interaction with family conflict and sexual abuse were associated with the highest delinquency scores. The genetic variants previously shown to confer vulnerability for delinquency (BDNF Val66Met Val/Met×5-HTTLPRMAOA-uVNTR S) were associated with the lowest delinquency scores in interaction with a positive child–parent relationship.

Conclusions. Functional variants of the MAOA-uVNTR, 5-HTTLPR, and BDNF Val66Met, either alone or in interaction with each other, may be best conceptualized as modifying sensitivity to environmental factors that confer either risk or protection for teenage delinquency

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In Plain Sight: Pervasive Inequalities

Pedro:

A sobering blog post by Larry Cuban that makes you look different at the world in and outside education.

Originally posted on Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice:

This post will not be filled with statistics about the worst gap ever–yes, ever–in income between rich and poor in the United States or how badly the U.S  fares  among developed nations in the world on inequality measures.

This post will not rail at the moral unfairness or growth of mistrust among Americans as a result of such economic, social, and political disparities.

Now will this post recommend ways for reducing the growth of a two-tiered society.

What this post will do is look at effects of inequality and how they are pervasive, taken-for-granted, and even encouraged in everyday transactions.

There are many obvious examples of inequalities such as the current protests across the nation’s cities over white police officers shooting black men and disproportionate percentages of minority and poor arrested and convicted for “broken window” crimes. Current protests against the police’s lethal mistreatment of African Americans…

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Funny on Sunday: What internet ads really mean

Found this via @netlash
2014-12-10 17.00.51

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Just go to bed earlier and stop worrying or is it vice versa? (study)

I do wonder if this is causal thinking gone wrong. When you go to bed, and how long you sleep at a time, might actually make it difficult for you to stop worrying. So say researchers, who found that people who sleep for shorter periods of time and go to bed very late at night are often overwhelmed with more negative thoughts than those who keep more regular sleeping hours. But actually, the researchers said this in the press release while in the original research it’s rather discussing a correlation. I myself thought that worrying made it more common to sleep late and badly. But that there is a link, that’s clear as this replication research shows and earlier (2011) research does show that working on getting enough sleep can help reducing symptoms of psychopathology.

From the press release:

People are said to have repetitive negative thinking when they have bothersome pessimistic thoughts that seem to repeat in their minds. They feel as though they have little control over these contemplations. They also tend to worry excessively about the future, delve too much into the past, and experience annoying intrusive thoughts. Such thoughts are often typical of people suffering from generalized anxiety disorder, major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and social anxiety disorder. These individuals also tend to have sleep problems.

Previous studies have linked sleep problems with such repetitive negative thoughts, especially in cases where someone does not get enough shut eye. Nota and Coles set out to replicate these studies, and to further see if there’s any link between having such repetitive thoughts and the actual time when someone goes to bed.

They asked 100 young adults at Binghamton University to complete a battery of questionnaires and two computerized tasks. In the process, it was measured how much the students worry, ruminate or obsess about something — three measures by which repetitive negative thinking is gauged. The students were also asked whether they were more habitual morning or evening types, preferring to hold regular hours or to have a sleep-wake schedule that is more skewed towards later in the day,

The researchers found that people who sleep for shorter periods of time and go to bed later often experience more repetitive negative thoughts than others. This was also true for those students who described themselves as evening types.

“Making sure that sleep is obtained during the right time of day may be an inexpensive and easily disseminable intervention for individuals who are bothered by intrusive thoughts,” remarks Nota.

The findings also suggest that sleep disruption may be linked to the development of repetitive negative thinking. Nota and Coles therefore believe that it might benefit people who are at risk of developing a disorder characterized by such intrusive thoughts to focus on getting enough sleep.

“If further findings support the relation between sleep timing and repetitive negative thinking, this could one day lead to a new avenue for treatment of individuals with internalizing disorders,” adds Coles. “Studying the relation between reductions in sleep duration and psychopathology has already demonstrated that focusing on sleep in the clinic also leads to reductions in symptoms of psychopathology.”

This study is part of a line of research examining the relations between sleep behavior and mental health. Based on growing evidence linking sleep and psychopathology, Nota and Coles and their colleagues at Binghamton University are aiming to understand how information about sleep may be used to help individuals with anxiety disorders.

Abstract of the research:

Higher levels of repetitive negative thinking (RNT; a perseverative and abstract focus on negative aspects of one’s experience) are associated with reduced sleep duration. This information is already informing theory and clinical practice. However, we are not aware of any studies examining the relation between RNT and the timing of sleep. We examined both disorder specific measures of RNT and a transdiagnostic measure of the RNT process in relation to sleep duration and timing in a sample of 100 unselected undergraduates. Replicating prior findings, shorter sleep duration was cross-sectionally associated with more rumination and delayed sleep timing was associated with more obsessive–compulsive symptoms. Further, extending this prior work, the transdiagnostic measure of RNT was associated with shorter sleep duration and delayed sleep timing. Individuals who endorsed a preference for later sleep and activity times also reported more RNT. These findings suggest that RNT may be uniquely related to both sleep duration and timing.

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Unstable child care can affect children by age 4 (study)

Again there is research showing how important the first years of life can be. A new study from UNC’s Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute (FPG) reveals that disruptions in child care negatively affect children’s social development as early as age 4. However, there is also hope. The study also shows that the effects of child care instability are not unduly large–and some types of instability appear to have no negative impact on children.

In short:

 

  • Child care instability was measured as the number of child care provider changes.
  • The number of overall changes was divided into changes across and within settings.
  • Several covariates were included to account for potential family selection bias.
  • Overall and across-setting changes significantly predicted to social adjustment.

 

From the press release:

“Our findings showed that when young children moved between child care settings, these transitions negatively affected their social adjustment,” said FPG investigator Mary Bratsch-Hines. “But when children had a history of changing caregivers within the same setting, we found no significant effects.”

Bratsch-Hines explained many experts believe forming stable and secure early relationships with parents and caregivers serves as a working model for children as they form social connections later.

“It follows that higher levels of instability and disruption in establishing strong relationships with caregivers during children’s earliest years could lead to difficulties forming trusting relationships down the road,” said Bratsch-Hines. “However, we have to recognize that changing child care settings and providers may be inevitable for a majority of families.”

Bratsch-Hines said that ups and downs in income, availability of transportation, secure employment, and other factors can result in children moving into and out of different child care settings. But understanding the effects of such transitions on children has remained elusive.

As a result, Bratsch-Hines and her team decided to take a comprehensive look at the impact of child care instability by capitalizing on FPG’s long-running Family Life Project. She and her colleagues examined the experiences of nearly 1,300 young children living in high-poverty rural areas, focusing on changes in child care both within and across settings–an approach few prior studies had attempted.

“In our study, we also included infants and toddlers even if they were enrolled intermittently in child care that their parents did not provide,” said Bratsch-Hines. “Previous studies have included only those children who continuously received child care from people other than their parents.”

By rigorously accounting for numerous child, family, and child care characteristics, the FPG team determined that a history of changes in child care across settings negatively impacted children’s lives.

“Not unexpectedly, children who experienced more changes in child care settings received lower ratings from their pre-kindergarten teachers on social adjustment,” said Bratsch-Hines. “This may be because changing child care locations meant children had to adjust to new physical environments in terms of the buildings, playgrounds, and toys–as well as new routines–in addition to disruptions in relationships with peers, primary caregivers, and other adults.”

According to Bratsch-Hines, although there was a clear negative impact on social adjustment for children who experienced child care instability across settings, the effect was small.

Furthermore, her team found no evidence that infants and toddlers who only experienced changes in providers within settings later had difficulty with social adjustment in pre-kindergarten. “This could be good news for parents who worry about high teacher turnover and other changes in staff at their chosen child care setting,” she said.

Nonetheless, Bratsch-Hines said the practical implications of her team’s findings suggest that programs can make additional efforts to integrate children–regardless of their child care history–into their care.

“In addition, child care subsidies could be changed to help parents access stable child care,” she explained. “With subsidies often tied to parental employment, unstable employment can lead to unstable child care.”

Bratsch-Hines also called for more research in order to better understand the roles of child care instability and other factors on child development.

“It may be that child care instability is another indicator of chaos in families’ lives,” she said. “We want to be able to best prepare children for the challenges of schooling, and we have to understand all the factors that stand in their way.”

Abstract of the research:

Most children in the United States experience nonparental child care during early childhood, and many children experience changes in their care during this period. Changes in care, or child care instability, have been argued to disrupt children’s emerging relationships with others and may impede children’s social-emotional development, particularly when changes occur during infancy and toddlerhood. Data for this study were drawn from the Family Life Project, a longitudinal study representative of families living in rural low-wealth areas. With a sample of 1292 children who were followed from six months to prekindergarten, this study examined the associations between cumulative child provider instability (measured as overall changes or changes across or within settings) from 6 to 36 months and children’s social adjustment at prekindergarten. A number of factors were included to control for family selection into child care. Results suggested that more overall child care provider instability was negatively associated with teacher ratings of social adjustment at prekindergarten. This association was driven by provider instability across but notwithin settings, though effect sizes were small. These findings point to an increased need to understand how early child care instability may be related to children’s subsequent development.

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