Impact of a Mass Media Program in Jordan on Children's Social Emotional Development

Last registered on December 03, 2021

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Impact of a Mass Media Program in Jordan on Children's Social Emotional Development
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0008579
Initial registration date
December 01, 2021

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
December 03, 2021, 10:30 PM EST

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

Locations

Region

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
New York University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
New York University
PI Affiliation
New York University
PI Affiliation
New York University
PI Affiliation
New York University/Universidad de los Andes
PI Affiliation
New York University
PI Affiliation
New York University

Additional Trial Information

Status
In development
Start date
2021-12-05
End date
2022-06-17
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Abstract
Ahlan Simsim is a television show developed by Sesame Workshop to specifically target the social and emotional development needs of 5-6-year-old children exposed, directly or indirectly, to displacement. Considering the Jordanian context, the series has been developed with the Syrian refugee crisis in mind. These important social and emotional development skills, when developed early in life, help children successfully navigate multiple social contexts, productively integrate into society, and bolster their opportunity to take advantage of other social, cognitive, and academic opportunities. As part of the ~12-week intervention, 108 KG2 (kindergarten) schools in the regions of Irbid, Balqa and Karak will be exposed to Ahlan Simsim, and another 108 will be exposed to the Kindergarten-2 (KG2) Curriculum designed by the Ministry of Education of Jordan. To prevent the diffusion of the intervention across multiple classrooms of a single school, we will only work with one randomly selected classroom per school. Only the intervention group will watch 26 episodes of 25 minutes each of video episodes of Ahlan Simsim (one per preschool day). We will estimate causal effects of Ahlan Simsim on targeted social and emotional child outcomes. With these estimations, we attempt to answer the following research questions:

• What is the impact of viewing Ahlan Simsim on children’s emotion recognition, identification, and vocabulary, as well as on their self-regulation strategies?
• Are there children that benefit more than others from watching Ahlan Simsim (as defined by ethnic/immigrant-origin background; gender; age)?

A direct comparison of the average development of children in each group will answer the first question. An exploration of potential heterogeneity in these effects associated with individual, classroom, and setting level-characteristics will address the second question.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Aber, Lawrence et al. 2021. "Impact of a Mass Media Program in Jordan on Children's Social Emotional Development." AEA RCT Registry. December 03. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.8579
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Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
Ahlan Simsim is a television show developed by Sesame Workshop to specifically target the social and emotional development needs of 5-6-year-old children exposed, directly or indirectly, to displacement. Considering the Jordanian context, the series has been developed with the Syrian refugee crisis in mind. These important social and emotional development skills, when developed early in life, help children successfully navigate multiple social contexts, productively integrate into society, and bolster their opportunity to take advantage of other social, cognitive, and academic opportunities. As part of the ~12-week intervention, 108 KG2 (kindergarten) schools in the regions of Irbid, Balqa and Karak will be exposed to Ahlan Simsim, and another 108 will be exposed to the Kindergarten-2 (KG2) Curriculum designed by the Ministry of Education of Jordan. The intervention group will watch 26 episodes of 25 minutes each of video episodes of Ahlan Simsim (one per preschool day).
Intervention Start Date
2022-02-06
Intervention End Date
2022-04-28

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Children's social and emotional development:
-Emotion recognition, identification, and expression
-Self-regulation and inhibitory control
-Recognition and use of self-regulation strategies
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Child aggressive and prosocial behavior (parent and teacher reported)
As moderators of the main effect of the intervention, we will explore: 1) levels of implementation in the school classroom, 2) weekly dosage, and 3) teacher perceptions of child behavior. We will also explore - non experimentally, whether compositional features of classrooms (i.e. average levels of child behavior, gender and ethnic composition) may moderate main effects.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
To answer the research questions and contribute to the knowledge base of effects of mass-media interventions in this context, we will conduct an implementation and evaluation in 216 Kindergarten 2 (KG2) schools (including one classroom per school) with about 4,500 children. In the evaluation design, a randomly assigned half of the schools will be exposed to the a collection of Ahlan Simsim episodes, while the other half will be exposed to the National Kindergarten curriculum designed by the Ministry of Education. Only in the intervention group, 26 minutes of TV content will be provided per preschool day. Eligible schools assigned to either control or treatment conditions will be invited to participate in the intervention and consent for receiving the intervention will be obtained from the principal of the school following the procedures established by the MoE in Jordan. All children enrolled in participating schools/classrooms will participate in the evaluation, after obtaining parental consent for these activities. Children or families who do not consent their participation in the evaluation will remain in the classroom during the intervention but will not be invited to participate in the evaluation activities.

After obtaining consent, we will collect baseline data, which will consist of a standard survey asking parents to report on: (1) The demographic composition of their households, (2) their objective and perceived socio-economic status, (3) their parenting practices and beliefs about child development, (4) the frequency and conditions of media exposure of children at home and (5) their perception of their child's developmental performance in the areas of communication, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, problem solving (Ages and Stages Questionnaire). This survey will be modeled after one that is being currently piloted in the Home Visiting project of Ahlan Simsim in Jordan. During the intervention, we will collect data from teachers on intervention implementation (through a weekly activities log) and teacher reports of children's social behavior. After the end of the 12 weeks of daily viewing of Ahlan Simsim episodes in the school/classroom, data collection with children will be conducted using child direct assessment measures on emotion recognition, identification, and expression; self-regulation and inhibitory control; and recognition and use of self-regulation strategies, with the sample of consented participants, to describe and understand their levels of the emotion assessments after being exposed to the intervention. A direct comparison of the average levels of the social and emotional skills of children exposed to the two conditions for a period of 12 weeks will directly answer the first question. An exploration of potential differences in these effects associated with individual, classroom, and setting level-characteristics will shed light about for whom, when and under what circumstances these effects are manifested.

Experimental Design Details
Schools and site selection will be conducted attending to the compositional characteristics of centers, accessibility and study logistics (i.e. feasibility for the IRC, access to population of interest). To select target settings, we have requested enrollment data from the Ministry of Education (MoE) to identify clusters of schools that could be randomly assigned to either the control or treatment condition for the duration of the study. Randomization will be conducted at the school level, yet only one randomly selected KG2 classroom per school will participate in the intervention. According to 2020 enrollment data, provided by the Ministry of Education in Jordan, in the governorates of Irbid, Balqa, and Karak there are 338 schools with at least 1 KG2 classroom (our universe for sampling), yet on average there are 1.76 (sd = 0.25) KG2 classrooms per school. Attending to these distributional features, and to prevent diffusion of the intervention across classrooms, we have decided to include only one KG2 classroom per school. This classroom will be randomly selected after randomization to the treatment condition, if the selected school reports more than one KG2 classroom. When schools only report one KG2 classroom that will be selected to participate. We have on a preliminary basis identified the sampling universe of schools with KG 2 classrooms for this study. Special attention will be paid to create baseline equivalence between both groups using such information. Aggregate school-level information (completely de-identified) about children or family’s refugee status, household socio-economic status, and special educational needs previously collected by the government of Jordan will also be requested as these variables can serve as a proxy indicator of children’s development and will employed in balance checks and stratification sampling strategies prior to random assignment. All children enrolled in randomly selected schools and classrooms will be eligible to participate, after obtaining parental consent and child assent. Based on preliminary data (from the 2019 and 2020 school year), we have identified that schools have 1.74 KG2 classrooms per site (sd = 0.25), and that classrooms, on average enroll 24.19 (sd= 9.41) children. Using this estimation as our best current guess, we anticipate that around 4500 children will be participating in the evaluation. Considering the current challenges that COVID-19 pose to in-person child participation in schools we have taken a conservative approach and anticipate that about 30% of the eligible sample of children could attrit of the study at any time. Also, according to these data, schools enrolled in 2020 95.48% children of Jordanian descent, with only 4.52% of children reporting a different nationality (i.e., Syrian, Palestinian).
Randomization Method
Randomization done by computer
Randomization Unit
Randomization at the school level
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
216 schools
Sample size: planned number of observations
Using preliminary data on KG2 classroom enrollment (an average of 24.19 with a standard deviation of 9.41), and estimations of attrition level (30%) we estimate that around 4,500 children will participate in the evaluation.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
108 schools control ("business as usual" Jordan Ministry of Education curriculum), 108 schools intervention (receiving Ahlan Simsim TV program).
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Our power estimation is designed to identify the minimum number of schools required to observe an effect of 0.13 standard deviation units’ difference between treatment and control on our child reported measures of emotional identification and regulation, as well as on selected sub-scales (i.e., literacy and numeracy) with a statistical power (β) of 0.80 and a type-I error rate (α) of 0.05. Considering the nesting of children within schools and classrooms, we have hypothesized an intra-class correlation (i.e., the proportion of child-variance that could be explained by school differences) at a level of 0.10, and the average number of children per classroom at 21. While we do not anticipate the attrition of an entire school from the sample during the intervention, considering the challenges and risks associated with COVID-19 we hypothesize that about 30% of children will attrit from the study at any point during its implementation. Accounting for all these variables, we estimate that a sample of 216 schools (108 assigned to treatment and 108 assigned to a control condition) will be required to identify the aforementioned average effect. All power estimations have been conducted with the software PowerUp.
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
International Rescue Committee Institutional Review Board
IRB Approval Date
2021-10-14
IRB Approval Number
CYPD 1.00.16

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