Socioemotional Skills in Preschool. Evidence from Mexico

Last registered on January 27, 2021

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Socioemotional Skills in Preschool. Evidence from Mexico
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0005341
Initial registration date
January 27, 2020

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
January 27, 2020, 11:37 AM EST

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Last updated
January 27, 2021, 7:45 PM EST

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.

Locations

Region

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
The World Bank

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
The World Bank
PI Affiliation
ITAM
PI Affiliation
The World Bank

Additional Trial Information

Status
Completed
Start date
2019-11-30
End date
2021-01-23
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Investing in the early years is a cost-effective public policy. Evidence indicates that developing key socio-emotional skills is instrumental in the acquisition of cognitive and academic skills and that these skills can be developed through psychological interventions. To test this at scale, we conduct a randomized experiment in Mexico to test if a mindfulness-based curriculum can help to improve the socio-emotional and cognitive skills of preschool children. Teachers from all 111 preschools in Nuevo Leon participated in the study, half of them were randomly selected to be trained to implement the curriculum and the other half was randomly assigned to a comparison group. As a potential mechanism, we test the indirect impacts of the intervention on teacher's socioemotional skills and psychological wellbeing.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Dinarte, Lelys et al. 2021. "Socioemotional Skills in Preschool. Evidence from Mexico ." AEA RCT Registry. January 27. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.5341
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Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
The intervention we study is Educating for Well-Being (EW), a program developed by a team of psychologists and neuroscientists from the Mexican NGO AtentaMente in close collaboration with a team of researchers from the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. EW is an innovative and scalable SEL program targeted to preschool students aged 3 to 5. The program combines an age-specific mindfulness curriculum with other selected evidence-based interventions from social and clinical psychology. EW aims to develop specific socioemotional skills—such as emotional self-regulation, attention capacity, and sociability—that are considered critical for school readiness and academic success, and for socio-emotional well-being in general.

Specifically, EW comprises two main components. First, the SEL curriculum combines elements from other internationally recognized programs, such as the Kindness curriculum. The EW’s basic foundation is the mindfulness practice, aimed at cultivating attention and emotional regulation. It is combined with a set of complementary activities and exercises that are intended to strengthen different dimensions of “kindness” and sociability. These soft skills are relevant since they help young children to adapt more easily to primary school and to strengthen the learning process in general.

The program includes lesson plans and sample activities that are designed to be embedded into the regular day-to-day curriculum, and usually last between 5 and 20 minutes. Second, teachers receive a set of four relatively short face-to-face training—a 6-hour introductory workshop plus three 3-hour “booster” workshops— which is complemented with a more intensive self-paced online course (up to 72 hours distributed over 21 weeks). This process started in November 2019. The materials and activities include videos, guided practices, worksheets, and a mobile app to support participants’ daily practice, as well as sample lesson plans for participants to use when facilitating sessions with preschool students.

By developing these soft skills in teachers, the program is expected to reinforce its impact via different channels, including the better modeling behavior of teachers. Interacting with more self-regulated adults is expected to improve the self-regulation of children—and expected to result in higher quality student-teacher interactions due to the teachers’ improved well-being. EW is designed to be scalable, since it can be embedded into the day-to-day curriculum, relies on the existing pool of teachers, and minimizes the length of the face-to-face training.
Intervention Start Date
2019-11-30
Intervention End Date
2020-05-30

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Our ultimate goal is to estimate treatment effects on students. To this end, we intend to study the impact of the program on children's socioemotional wellbeing in terms of inhibitory control and socioemotional development.

To study some of the mechanisms behind any treatment effect we might find, we intend to look at some intermediate outcomes at the teacher level. Specifically, we intend to study teachers’ wellbeing using measures of emotional wellbeing, stress, anxiety, depression, burnout.

This project constitutes the first one of our research agenda on SEL during early childhood and their mid- and long-term effects on development outcomes. We plan to track these kids (using administrative data and their unique ID) to measure the impact of the program on first-grade enrollment and performance (using educational census), primary school test-scores (using the nation-wide standardized PLANEA test), wages (using the IMSS database), and whether they vote or commit a crime (using the INE database). These mid- and long-term effects will be part of upcoming projects.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The study universe includes all preschools in the municipality of Escobedo in Nuevo Leon. Out of the total of 111 schools, 50 percent of them were randomly assigned to treatment (55 preschools) and the rest to control (56 preschools) groups. The randomization process used the type of system (In Spanish Sistema, which indicates whether the school was originally a State-ran school or whether it was transferred from the Federal to the State Government) and shift (whether it is a morning or an evening shift) as stratification variables. In some of these municipalities, some preschool centers are located in the same facility but have different shifts. These are completely separate schools that do not share principals, students, or teachers. For this reason, some treatment and control preschools are located in the same facility.
Experimental Design Details
The study universe includes all preschools in the municipality of Escobedo in Nuevo Leon. Out of the total of 111 schools, 50 percent of them were randomly assigned to treatment (55 preschools) and the rest to control (56 preschools) groups. The randomization process used the type of system (In Spanish Sistema, which indicates whether the school was originally a State-ran school or whether it was transferred from the Federal to the State Government) and shift (whether it is a morning or an evening shift) as stratification variables.

In this municipality, some preschool centers are located in the same facility but have different shifts. These are completely separate schools that do not share principals, students, or teachers. For this reason, some treatment and control preschools are located in the same facility. The implementation of this research project will include two phases. First, schools assigned to the treatment group will receive the full intervention, including components 1 and 2. After one and a half years, schools in the control group will participate in the intervention.
Randomization Method
The randomization was done in-office by the researchers using STATA
Randomization Unit
The randomization unit was the preschool
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
111 schools
Sample size: planned number of observations
We expect to collect data from around a total of 500 teachers and 1,500 caregivers (15 caregivers per preschool).
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
55 preschools are treated and the 56 preschools were assigned to the control group.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
For the statistical power and sample size estimations, we assume (conservatively) an intra-school correlation of 0.3, an R2 of 30%, a type I Error rate of 0.05, and statistical power of 0.8. Using these values, the minimum detectable effect is 0.29SD. However, if the intra-school correlation is lower, say 0.15, then the MDE is 0.21. An additional complication is that 3 treatment schools are non-compliant, as their principals decided not to participate in the program (all control schools are compliant). Thus, the MDE with non-partial compliance is 0.30 and 0.22, with an ICC of 0.3 and 0.15, respectively. See estimations in Figure 2. These estimated MDE are not different from some found in existing studies for similar interventions.
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number

Post-Trial

Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Intervention

Is the intervention completed?
No
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?
No

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials