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IES Grant

Title: Efficacy of MindUP on Pre-Kindergarteners' Development of Social-Emotional Learning Competencies and Academic Skills
Center: NCER Year: 2018
Principal Investigator: Mashburn, Andrew Awardee: Portland State University
Program: Early Learning Programs and Policies      [Program Details]
Award Period: 5 years (07/01/2018 - 06/30/2023) Award Amount: $3,300,000
Type: Efficacy and Replication Award Number: R305A180374

Co-Principal Investigator: Roeser, Robert

Purpose: This project will evaluate the efficacy of MindUP, a mindfulness-based social emotional learning (SEL) program, on a set of key social emotional learning competencies (i.e., attention skills and social skills) that are associated with kindergarten readiness and later academic success. MindUP provides opportunities for pre-kindergarten children to develop the attention, social, and emotional skills they need to enter kindergarten ready to learn and succeed in school. By implementing activities that target attention and regulatory skills, educators may be able to help young children, especially children from disadvantaged backgrounds, build the skills that will support learning and school success.

Project Activities: Researchers will conduct a three-cohort cluster randomized study to investigate the impact of MindUP on children's academic skills and social emotional learning competencies. They will recruit and randomly assign 120 preschool teachers to treatment and control conditions. Teachers will receive training and professional development support to implement the intervention. Researchers will collect data from parents and teachers, conduct classroom observations, and assess three cohorts of children to evaluate impacts of the intervention on child outcomes. They will also conduct a cost study.

Products: Researchers will produce evidence of the efficacy of the MindUP intervention to improve children's academic skills and SEL competencies, prepare policy and practice briefs to share results with practitioners, and produce peer-reviewed publications.

Structured Abstract

Setting: This study will take place in center-based, pre-K programs in three large counties in the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area.

Sample: The sample will include classrooms operating within three types of center-based pre-K programs (publically funded, community not-for-profit, and small for-profit) serving four-year-old children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds who speak Spanish and/or English as their primary language. Study participants include 120 preschool classrooms/teachers and 1,200 racially and ethnically diverse children.

Intervention: The MindUP intervention is a fully-developed, mindfulness-based social emotional learning (SEL) supplementary curriculum that includes 15 weekly lessons and daily focused attention practices to promote children's development of SEL competencies, and professional development for educators. The MindUP components include: (1) a one-day training for teachers; (2) the MindUP curriculum book and materials for implementing weekly lessons and daily practices; and (3) implementation supports, including monthly Professional Learning Community (PLC) meetings and classroom check-ins every two weeks with a MindUP mentor to monitor and support implementation.

Research Design and Methods: Researchers will conduct this study over a five-year period. The study will be conducted with three sequential and independent cohorts of participants (Year 2/Cohort 1; Year 3/Cohort 2; Year 4/Cohort 3). The research team will randomly assign classrooms to the MindUP intervention or the waitlist control condition and randomly select ten children from each classroom for assessments. Classrooms assigned to the MindUP condition will implement the intervention for one year. Classrooms assigned to the waitlist control condition will have access to the MindUP training and materials in the subsequent year. The researchers will not offer implementation support to the waitlist control group. In Year 1, the research team will pilot and refine the measures of implementation fidelity, conduct a pilot study of MindUP implementation in 10 pre-K classrooms, and conduct a survey of business-as-usual SEL practices within pre-K classrooms. In Years 2-4, cohort-specific activities include recruitment and random assignment, baseline assessments of child outcomes, training and implementation support for MindUP teachers, implementation of the intervention, collection of classroom observation data three times during the year, and post-intervention assessments in spring of each year. In Years 2-4, the researchers will collect data for the cost analysis. In years 4 and 5, they will conduct data analysis and disseminate study findings.

Control Condition: The waitlist control group of teachers will conduct business as usual practices during the study year and receive access to MindUP resources the following year.

Key Measures: Primary measures include standardized direct child assessments of children's academic skills and SEL competencies, as well as teacher reports of children's SEL competencies in pre-kindergarten. The statewide Oregon Kindergarten Readiness assessment will be used to assess academic skills and SEL competencies at kindergarten entry. Other key measures include fidelity of implementation tools and classroom observations to assess SEL practices in treatment and control classrooms.

Data Analytic Strategy: Researchers will conduct multilevel analyses to evaluate the impact of MindUP on children's development of SEL competencies and academic skills at the end of pre-K and at the beginning of kindergarten. They will conduct analyses to explore child and classroom characteristics that may moderate impacts, as well as the extent to which the impacts of MindUP on children's academic skills are mediated by the program's impacts on SEL competencies. The research team will also examine the cost of implementing MindUP.