Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Promoting children's learning and development in conflict-affected countries: Testing change process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

  • J. Lawrence Aber (a1), Carly Tubbs (a1), Catalina Torrente (a2), Peter F. Halpin (a1), Brian Johnston (a3), Leighann Starkey (a3), Anjuli Shivshanker (a4), Jeannie Annan (a4), Edward Seidman (a1) and Sharon Wolf (a5)...

Abstract

Improving children's learning and development in conflict-affected countries is critically important for breaking the intergenerational transmission of violence and poverty. Yet there is currently a stunning lack of rigorous evidence as to whether and how programs to improve learning and development in conflict-affected countries actually work to bolster children's academic learning and socioemotional development. This study tests a theory of change derived from the fields of developmental psychopathology and social ecology about how a school-based universal socioemotional learning program, the International Rescue Committee's Learning to Read in a Healing Classroom (LRHC), impacts children's learning and development. The study was implemented in three conflict-affected provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and employed a cluster-randomized waitlist control design to estimate impact. Using multilevel structural equation modeling techniques, we found support for the central pathways in the LRHC theory of change. Specifically, we found that LRHC differentially impacted dimensions of the quality of the school and classroom environment at the end of the first year of the intervention, and that in turn these dimensions of quality were differentially associated with child academic and socioemotional outcomes. Future implications and directions are discussed.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: J. Lawrence Aber, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, New York University, 246 Greene Street, Floor 4E, New York, NY 10003; E-mail: la39@nyu.edu.

References

Hide All
Aber, J. L., Torrente, C., Starkey, L., Johnston, B., Seidman, E., Halpin, P., … Wolf, S. (in press). Impacts of “Healing Classroom” on children's reading and math skills in DRC. Journal for Research on Education Effectiveness.
Akbulut-Yuksel, M. (2009) Children of war: The long-run effects of large-scale physical destruction and warfare on children (IZA Discussion Paper 4407). Bonn: Institute for the Study of Labor.
Allen, J., Gregory, A., Mikami, A., Lun, J., Hamre, B., & Pianta, R. (2013). Observations of effective teacher-student interactions in secondary school classrooms: Predicting student achievement with the Classroom Assessment Scoring System—Secondary. School Psychology Review, 42, 7698.
Bar Tal, D., & Rosen, Y. (2009). Peace education in societies involved in intractable conflicts: Direct and indirect models. Review of Educational Research, 79, 557575.
BBC. (2015, January). Democratic Republic of Congo country profile: Overview. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-13283212
Berger, R., Pat- Horenczyk, R., & Gelkopf, M. (2007). School- based intervention for prevention and treatment of elementary- students’ terror-related distress in Israel: A quasi-randomized controlled trial. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 20, 541551.
Betancourt, T. S., Simmons, S., Borisova, I., Brewer, S. E., Iweala, U., & De La Soudière, M. (2008). High hopes, grim reality: Reintegration and the education of former child soldiers in Sierra Leone. Comparative Education Review, 52, 565.
Betancourt, T. S., & Williams, T. (2008). Building an evidence base on mental health interventions for children affected by armed conflict. Intervention, 6, 3956.
Blankemeyer, M., Flannery, D. J., & Vazsonyi, A. T. (2002). The role of aggression and social competence in children's perceptions of the child-teacher relationship. Psychology in the Schools, 39, 293304.
Bronfenbrenner, U., & Morris, P. A. (2006). The bioecological model of human development. In Lerner, R. M. (Ed.). Handbook of child psychology: Vol. 1. Theoretical models of human development (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Brown, J. L., Jones, S. M., LaRusso, M., & Aber, J. L. (2010). Improving classroom quality: Teacher influences and experimental impacts of the 4Rs Program. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102, 153167.
Burde, D., Guven, O., Kelcey, J., Lahmann, H., & Al-Abbadi, K. (2015). What works to promote children's educational access, quality of learning, and well-being in crisis affected contexts. London: Department for International Development. Retrieved from https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/470773/Education-emergencies-rigorous-review2.pdf
Burde, D., & Linden, L. L. (2013). Bringing education to Afghan girls: A randomized controlled trial of village-based schools. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 5, 2740.
Cameron, C. E., Connor, C. M., Morrison, F. J., & Jewkes, A. M. (2008). Effects of classroom organization on letter-word reading in first grade. Journal of School Psychology, 46, 173192.
Cappella, E., Massetti, G. M., & Yampolsky, S. (2009). Rigorous, responsive, and responsible: Experimental designs in school intervention research. In Dinella, L. M. (Ed.), Conducting science-based psychology research in schools (pp. 5178). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Cicchetti, D. (Ed.). (2016). Developmental psychopathology: Vol. 4. Risk, resilience, and intervention (3rd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Cicchetti, D., & Toth, S. L. (2009). The past achievements and future promises of developmental psychopathology: The coming of age of a discipline. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 50, 1625.
Costa, L. O., & Carnoy, M. (2015). The effectiveness of an early-grade literacy intervention on the cognitive achievement of Brazilian students. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. Advance online publication.
Cummings, E. M., Merrilees, C. E., Taylor, L. K., & Mondi, C. F. (2016). Developmental and social–ecological perspectives on children, political violence, and armed conflict. Development and Psychopathology, 29, 110.
Davidson, M., & Hobbs, J. (2013). Delivering reading intervention to the poorest children: The case of Liberia and EGRA-Plus, a primary grade reading assessment and intervention. International Journal of Educational Development, 33, 283293.
Dearing, E., Kreider, H., Simpkins, S., & Weiss, H. B. (2006). Family involvement in school and low-income children's literacy: Longitudinal associations between and within families. Journal of Educational Psychology, 98, 653.
de Jong, J. T. (2010). A public health framework to translate risk factors related to political violence and war into multi-level preventive interventions. Social Science & Medicine, 70, 7179.
Devakumar, D., Birch, M., Osrin, D., & Sondorp, E. (2014). The intergenerational effects of war on the health of children. BMC Medicine, 12, 115.
Dryden-Peterson, S. (2011). Refugee education: A global review. Geneva: UNHCR. Retrieved from http://www.unhcr.org/4fe317589.pdf
Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The impact of enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions. Child Development, 82, 405432.
Education for All (2013). Children still battling to go to school (Global Monitoring Report. Policy Paper 10). Paris: UNESCO.
Goodman, R. (1997). The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire: A research note. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 38, 581586.
Halpin, P. F., Torrente, C., & Aber, J. L. (2016). Scoring an international reading and math assessment: Psychometric methods. Manuscript submitted for publication.
Hughes, J., Luo, W., Kwok, O., & Loyd, L. (2008). Teacher-student support, effortful engagement, and achievement: A 3-year longitudinal study. Journal of Educational Psychology, 100, 1.
Imai, K., Keele, L., & Tingley, D. (2010). A general approach to causal mediation analysis. Psychological Methods, 15, 309.
Institute for Economics and Peace. (2014). Global Peace Index 2014. Retrieved from http://www.visionofhumanity.org/sites/default/files/2014%20Global%20Peace%20Index%20REPORT_0.pdf
International Network for Education in Emergencies. (2014). Why education in emergencies? Retrieved from http://www.ineesite.org/en/education-in-emergencies
International Rescue Committee. (2014). Baseline ASER scores among Syrian refugee children in Lebanon (data file).
Jones, S. M., Brown, J. L., & Aber, J. L. (2011). Two-year impacts of a universal school-based social-emotional and literacy intervention: An experiment in translational developmental research. Child Development, 82, 533554.
Jones, S. M., Brown, J. L., & Aber, J. L. (2016). Testing multi-level causal processes in complex settings-level interventions: The mediating role of classroom quality in a socio-emotional learning program. Manuscript submitted for publication.
Jordans, M. J., Pigott, H., & Tol, W. A. (2016). Interventions for children affected by armed conflict: A systematic review of mental health and psychosocial support in low- and middle-income countries. Current Psychiatry Reports, 18, 115.
Jordans, M. J., Tol, W. A., Komproe, I. H., & de Jong, J. V. (2009). Systematic review of evidence and treatment approaches: Psychosocial and mental health care for children in war. Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 14, 214.
Justino, P. (2010). How does violent conflict impact on individual education outcomes? The evidence so far. Retrieved from http://unesco.atlasproject.eu/unesco/file/580c2e79-700c-4a55-9f61-5b88522ff119/c8c7fe00-c770-11e1-9b21-0800200c9a66/190710e.pdf
Kenny, D. (2014). Mediation. Retrieved from http://davidakenny.net/cm/mediate.htm
King, E. (2013). From classrooms to conflict in Rwanda. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Krull, J. L., & MacKinnon, D. P. (2001). Multilevel modeling of individual and group level mediated effects. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 36, 249277.
Leve, L. D., & Cicchetti, D. (2016). Longitudinal transactional models of development and psychopathology. Development and Psychopathology, 28, 621622. doi:10.1017/S0954579416000201
MacKinnon, D. P., Lockwood, C. M., Hoffman, J. M., West, S. G., & Sheets, V. (2002). A comparison of methods to test mediation and other intervening variable effects. Psychological Methods, 7, 83.
Masten, A. S., & Cicchetti, D. (2010). Developmental cascades. Development and Psychopathology, 22, 491495.
Masten, A. S., & Narayan, A. J. (2012). Child development in the context of disaster, war, and terrorism: Pathways of risk and resilience. Annual Review of Psychology, 63, 227257.
Masten, A. S., Roisman, G. I., Long, J. D., Burt, K. B., Obradović, J., Riley, J. R., & Tellegen, A. (2005). Developmental cascades: Linking academic achievement and externalizing and internalizing symptoms over 20 years. Developmental Psychology, 41, 733.
McEwan, P. (2013). Improving learning in primary schools of developing countries: A meta- analysis of randomized experiments. Retrieved from http://www.patrickmcewan.net/: http://academics.wellesley.edu/Economics/mcewan/PDF/meta.pdf
Merritt, E. G., Wanless, S. B., Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., Cameron, C., & Peugh, J. L. (2012). The contribution of teachers’ emotional support to children's social behaviors and self-regulatory skills in first grade. School Psychology Review, 41, 141159.
Montjourides, P. (2013). Education data in conflict-affected countries: The fifth failure? Prospects, 43, 85105.
Mosselson, J., Wheaton, W., & Frisoli, P. S. J. (2009). Education and fragility: A synthesis of the literature. Journal of Education for International Development, 4, 117.
Muthén, B., Kaplan, D., & Hollis, M. (1987). On structural equation modeling with data that are not missing completely at random. Psychometrika, 52, 431462.
Muthén, B. O., & Muthén, L. (2014). Mplus 7.3 [Computer software]. Los Angeles: Author.
Orpinas, P., & Frankowski, R. (2001). The Aggression Scale: A self-report measure of aggressive behavior for young adolescents. Journal of Early Adolescence, 21, 5067.
Ponitz, C., Rimm-Kaufman, S., Grimm, K., & Curby, T. (2009). Kindergarten classroom quality, behavioral engagement, and reading achievement. School Psychology Review, 38, 102120.
Preacher, K. J. (2011). Multilevel SEM strategies for evaluating mediation in three-level data. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 46, 691731.
Preacher, K. J., Zyphur, M. J., & Zhang, Z. (2010). A general multilevel SEM framework for assessing multilevel mediation. Psychological Methods, 15, 209.
Raver, C. C., Jones, S. M., Li-Grining, C., Zhai, F., Bub, K., & Pressler, E. (2011). CSRP's impact on low-income preschoolers’ pre-academic skills: Self-regulation as a mediating mechanism. Child Development, 82, 362378.
Reyes, M. R., Brackett, M. A., Rivers, S. E., White, M., & Salovey, P. (2012). Classroom emotional climate, student engagement, and academic achievement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 104, 700712.
RTI International. (2009a). Early Grade Reading Assessment Toolkit. Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI International. Retrieved from http://www.ineesite.org/uploads/files/resources/EGRA\_Toolkit\_Mar09.pdf
RTI International. (2009b). Early Grade Math Assessment Toolkit. Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI International. Retrieved from https://www.eddataglobal.org/math/
Save the Children. (2015). More and better: Global action to improve funding, support, and collaboration for education in emergencies. London: Author.
Shrout, P. E., & Bolger, N. (2002). Mediation in experimental and nonexperimental studies: New procedures and recommendations. Psychological Methods, 7, 422.
Sobel, M. E. (1982). Asymptotic confidence intervals for indirect effects in structural equation models. Sociological Methodology, 13, 290312.
Suldo, S., Friedrich, A., White, T., Farmer, J., Minch, D., & Michalowski, J. (2009). Teacher support and adolescents’ subjective well-being: A mixed-methods investigation. School Psychology Review, 38, 6785.
Thyne, C. L. (2006). ABC's, 123's, and the golden rule: The pacifying effect of education on civil war, 1980–1999. International Studies Quarterly, 50, 733754.
Tol, W. A., Barbui, C., Galappatti, A., Silove, D., Betancourt, T. S., Souza, R., & Van Ommeren, M. (2011). Mental health and psychosocial support in humanitarian settings: Linking practice and research. Lancet, 378, 15811591.
Tol, W. A., Komproe, I. H., Jordans, M. J., Gross, A. L., Susanty, D., Macy, R. D., & de Jong, J. T. (2010). Mediators and moderators of a psychosocial intervention for children affected by political violence. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 78, 818.
Torrente, C., Aber, J. L., Shivshanker, A., Annan, J., & Bundervoet, T. (2011). Opportunities for Equitable Access to Quality Basic Education (OPEQ): Results from the Early Grade Reading Assessment, the Early Grade Math Assessment, and children's demographic data in Katanga Province, Democratic Republic of Congo (IRC Technical Report). Retrieved from http://steinhardt.nyu.edu/scmsAdmin/media/users/eez206/OPEQ/OPEQ_Baseline_Report_EGRA_EGMA_2011_FINAL.pdf
Torrente, C., Johnston, B., Starkey, L., Seidman, E., Shivshanker, A., Annan, J., & Aber, J. L. (2015). Improving school environments and student wellbeing: Impacts after one year of a school-based intervention in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Journal of Education in Emergencies, 1, 4891.
Tseng, V., & Seidman, E. (2007). A systems framework for understanding social settings. Journal of Community Psychology, 39, 217228.
UNESCO. (2011). Education for all global monitoring report, 2011: The hidden crisis: Armed conflict and education. Paris: Author.
United Nations Children's Fund. (2009a). Machel study 10-year strategic review: Children and conflict in a changing world. New York: Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.
United Nations Children's Fund. (2009b). Child friendly schools programming. New York: Author.
United Nations Development Programme. (2014). Achieve universal primary education: Where do we stand? Retrieved from http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/mdgoverview/mdg_goals/mdg2.html
United States Agency for International Development. (2013). State of the field report: Examining the evidence in youth education in crisis and conflict. Retrieved from http://www.usaid.gov/what-we-do/education/educating-children-and-youth-crisis-and-conflict-situations/state-field-reports
Walter, B. F. (2004). Does conflict beget conflict? Explaining recurring civil war. Journal of Peace Research, 41, 371388.
Wasik, B. A., & Hindman, A. H. (2011). Improving vocabulary and pre-literacy skills of at-risk preschoolers through teacher professional development. Journal of Educational Psychology, 103, 455.
Wilson, H., Pianta, R., & Stuhlman, M. (2007). Typical classroom experiences in first grade: The role of classroom climate and functional risk in the development of social competencies. Elementary School Journal, 108, 8196.
Winthrop, R., & Kirk, J. (2008). Learning for a bright future: Schooling, armed conflict, and children's well-being. Comparative Education Review, 52, 639661.
Winthrop, R., Ndaruhutse, S., Dolan, J., & Adams, A. (2010). Education's hardest test: Scaling up aid in fragile and conflict-affected countries. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, Center for Universal Education, CfBT Education Trust.
Wolf, S., Aber, J. L., & Torrente, C. (2016). Preliminary impacts of a professional development intervention on teacher wellbeing in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Manuscript submitted for publication.
Yoshikwa, H., & Roy, A. (2014, January). How place matters: Understanding the role of social settings in programs and policies for child development in low- and middle-income countries. Paper presented at Abu Dhabi Transforming Settings for Children and Youth: Towards a Global Science and Practice Conference, Abu Dhabi.

Promoting children's learning and development in conflict-affected countries: Testing change process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

  • J. Lawrence Aber (a1), Carly Tubbs (a1), Catalina Torrente (a2), Peter F. Halpin (a1), Brian Johnston (a3), Leighann Starkey (a3), Anjuli Shivshanker (a4), Jeannie Annan (a4), Edward Seidman (a1) and Sharon Wolf (a5)...

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed