CASTL Faculty Discuss How Education Research Informs Practice at SREE Conference

By Rachel Chapdelaine

CASTL recently joined researchers from across the country at The Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness (SREE) conference from February 18 to March 3 in Washington, D.C. This year’s spring conference—themed “The Evidence Behind Evidence Use: When Does Education Research Inform Practice?”—focused on the adoption and implementation of research-based practices in education. To support the growing influence of effective education research on policy and practice, the following faculty members presented findings from studies conducted at CASTL.

Robert Pianta

Robert Pianta, Dean of the Curry School of Education & Founding Director of CASTL

Robert Pianta, whose research interests focus on the intersection of education and human development, presented “Understanding the Effects of Classroom Processes on Child Outcomes in Pre-Kindergarten.” In this study, Pianta explores the positive associations of teacher-child interactions and exposure to academic content with preschoolers’ learning gains.

Findings indicate that classroom organization is positively associated with gains on quantitative concepts, such as understanding the connection between big and little and full and empty. However, no other teacher-child interactions, nor exposure to academic content were associated with learning outcomes.

Since effects of classroom processes may be interdependent–for example, math activities may stimulate cognition, but only under conditions of higher-order questioning–Pianta notes that the next step is to examine interactions between these different features of classroom processes in order to further understand how these processes jointly or independently affect children’s learning gains.

David Grissmer

David Grissmer, Associate Professor

Core Knowledge is a nonprofit organization that works with schools to build a strong foundation for children by using a researched, knowledge-based curriculum. At the conference, David Grissmer presented a paper in which he evaluates the effects of Core Knowledge charter schools (CK Charter) on third grade achievement in reading, writing, English, and math.

Using a rigorous, lottery-based evaluation, Grissmer’s study found that the children who entered CK Charter Schools in kindergarten showed higher reading, English and writing scores in third grade than similar peers. Effects appear to be even larger for girls and children who attended a school in an urban, lower-income neighborhood.

Currently, most education interventions focus solely on increasing math, reading or science skills; however, this study’s findings suggest that a broader curriculum focused on student knowledge development of the physical, social and cultural world enables better contextual understanding and motivates learning in all subjects.

Jennifer LoCasale-Crouch

Jennifer LoCasale-Crouch, Research Associate Professor

Jennifer LoCasale-Crouch, whose research centers on early school experiences with an international focus, presented findings from “Adapting Evidence-Based Interventions for Use in Latin America: What Are We Learning.”

LoCasale-Crouch described the pilot of a professional development intervention aimed to help teachers better support children’s learning through more effective interpersonal interactions with children in Latin American schools. Although there are many relevant interventions in the U.S., even those validated under the most rigorous conditions are still not guaranteed to work in all settings. With this as a consideration, LoCasale-Crouch and colleagues chose to adapt an existing intervention prior to implementation and evaluation in Latin America, while retaining the core components of on-line learning about effective classroom interactions and video-based analysis of practice guided by coaches.

In LoCasale-Crouch’s presentation, she stressed the importance of adapting and pilot testing interventions prior to assessing effectiveness in global contexts and encouraged others to shift their focus from whether an intervention works to understanding how and why it works.

Chris Hulleman

Chris Hulleman, Associate Professor & Director of CASTL’s Motivate Lab

Following a panel on low-cost, scalable interventions that improve student motivation to achieve academic success, Chris Hulleman facilitated a discussion that explored the pros and cons of these interventions and how researcher-practitioner partnerships can influence intervention growth and educational policy.

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