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Playful Learning: Towards a More Intentional Practice in Norwegian Preschool Groups
Last registered on February 24, 2019

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Playful Learning: Towards a More Intentional Practice in Norwegian Preschool Groups
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0003852
Initial registration date
February 21, 2019
Last updated
February 24, 2019 7:44 PM EST
Location(s)

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Primary Investigator
Affiliation
University of Stavanger
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
University of Stavanger
PI Affiliation
University of Stavanger
PI Affiliation
University of Stavanger
PI Affiliation
Oregon State University
PI Affiliation
University of Stavanger
Additional Trial Information
Status
On going
Start date
2017-08-15
End date
2035-01-01
Secondary IDs
The Research Council of Norway. Grant no. 270703
Abstract
In this study, we implement a large-scale randomized field experiment in which preschool teachers in Norway introduce a new Norwegian Playful Learning Curriculum with five-year-olds. The intention with this curriculum is to stimulate socio-emotional, self-regulatory, language and math skills, which numerous studies have identified as foundational for future learning and development (Duncan et al., 2007; Hall, Welsh, Bierman, & Nix, 2016; Rabiner, Godwin, & Dodge, 2016). A total of 126 Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) centers participate in the field experiment, with 63 randomly selected centers in the treatment group.

The Norwegian Playful Learning Curriculum is a comprehensive structured curriculum with play-based activities for five-year-olds. We study the curriculum in the universal preschool context of Norway. The prevailing curriculum in Norway is very non-specific and unstructured, and therefore Norway provides an excellent platform for investigating the effects of a structured curriculum on children’s skills.

The Norwegian Playful Learning Curriculum was developed in a previous research project called the Agder Project (Leveling the playing feld: An intervention to promote school readiness and human potential - https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/2241/history/18261). This project emphazised user involvement from teachers in the development of the intervention. Researchers in the Agder-project, in close collaboration with 42 ECEC teachers in Agder, developed The Norwegian Playful Learning Curriculum and tested treatment effects. The curriculum was developed during a 15 credit point training with the teachers. This is the curriculum that treatment teachers in the current project implement, and thus this RCT in many ways represents a replication of the Agder Project. Still, there are some important distinctions between the two. First of all teachers in the Agder Project received extensive training. Such extensive training is too expensive to give to all future users of the curriculum, and the training in itself might have caused effects in the Agder Project. Although user involvement was an advantage in the Agder Project to create an ecologically valid curriculum, a major drawback was that possible effects may be related to extraordinary engagement from the teachers and not the actual curriculum. Furthermore, ECEC centers in the treatment group of the Agder Project received funding for substitute teachers while the participating teachers implemented the intervention, and this in itself might give positive treatment effects. In order to detangle these effects, and to test whether the curriculum can easily be scaled up at a low cost, in the current study teachers are only offered a one day course introducing them to The Norwegian Playful Learning Curriculum before implementation. In addition to the book containing this curriculum, they receive a complementary video bank illustrating pedagogical principals and examples. Teachers receive weekly electronic nudges or reminders to give extra attention to vulnerable children, e.g. children lacking or falling behind on socio-emotional, self-regulatory, language and math skills.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Braak, Dieuwer et al. 2019. "Playful Learning: Towards a More Intentional Practice in Norwegian Preschool Groups." AEA RCT Registry. February 24. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.3852-1.0.
Former Citation
Braak, Dieuwer et al. 2019. "Playful Learning: Towards a More Intentional Practice in Norwegian Preschool Groups." AEA RCT Registry. February 24. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/3852/history/42016.
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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
In this project we study the effects of the Norwegian Playful Learning Curriculum, see https://gan.aschehoug.no/nettbutikk/lekbasert-laering-gan.html . The treatment centers also had access to a complementary web-resource, see www.lekbasert.no with examples and theory related to the curriculum. The curriculum is developed to stimulate children's early math, language, socio-emotional and self-regulatory skills. Before implementation of the intervention teachers received a one-day introduction course to the Norwegian Playful Learning Curriculum. During implementation teachers received weekly electronic nudges that reminded them to give attention to vulnerable children, for example children with poor or lacking skills within early math, language, social competence or self-regulation.
Intervention Start Date
2017-09-01
Intervention End Date
2018-05-31
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
First post-intervention assessment (June, 2018):
Ani Banani Math Test (ABMT) (Størksen & Mosvold 2013) for assessing mathematics skills, the Norwegian Vocabulary Test (NVT) (Størksen et al. 2013) for assessment of language, Digit Span Test (Wechsler 1991) for assessment of working memory (an important aspect within self-regulation) and Preschool Early Numeracy Skills Screener (PENS) (Purpura, Reid, Eiland & Baroody, 2015).

Post-intervention assessment :
Children’s math and literacy in first grade of school will be measured with the aid of standardized mapping tests that schools routinely conduct during spring of first grade, second grade and third grade.

Further longitudinal data will be drawn from official registries: National tests from 5th and 8th grade, GPA from compulsory school, choice of subjects for upper secondary school, and completed upper secondary school by age 20.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
We investigate effects of the Norwegian Playful Learning Curriculum in an RCT with 126 participating daycare centers. After recruitment, the daycare director and the teacher(s) responsible for the five year olds, signed an agreement detailing responsibilities and expectations. Moreover, they assisted us in collecting informed consent from the parents. Thereafter, the centers were randomized (block randomization) into treated and control.

Teachers in treated group implemented the Norwegian Playful Learning Curriculum in their daycare center during the school year 2017/2018 (September 1st 2017 to May 31st 2018). The teachers committed to spend at least eight hours every week working with the playful learning activities in the curriculum. The ECEC centers in the control group continued as before, and were given access to the intervention, material and training, when the implementation was completed.

We assess the children in August 2017 (pre-test), June 2018 (first post-test).

Children’s math and literacy in first grade of school will be measured with the aid of standardized mapping tests that schools routinely conduct during spring of first grade, second grade and third grade.

Further longitudinal data will be drawn from official registries: National tests from 5th and 8th grade, GPA from compulsory school, choice of subjects for upper secondary school, and completed upper secondary school by age 20.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
We randomly split the centers between a control and a treatment group using block randomization based on municipality and size of preschool centers.
Randomization Unit
Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) centers.
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
126 ECEC centers.
Sample size: planned number of observations
Approximately 1300 children.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
63 treatment centers and 63 control centers.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
d = 0.20 for power = 0.80
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Norwegian Centre for Research Data (Norsk Senter for Forskningsdata)
IRB Approval Date
2017-03-01
IRB Approval Number
52294