WWC review of this study

Educational effects of the Tools of the Mind curriculum: A randomized trial [Tools of the Mind vs. business as usual]

Barnett, W. S., Jung, K., Yarosz, D. J., Thomas, J., Hornbeck, A., Stechuk, R., & Burns, S. (2008). Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 23(3), 299–313. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ807583

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
     examining 
    220
     Students
    , grade
    PK

Reviewed: April 2021

Does not meet WWC standards


Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Study sample characteristics were not reported.

Reviewed: November 2013

Meets WWC standards with reservations


Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • Female: 47%
    Male: 53%

  • Urban
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic    
    93%
    Not Hispanic or Latino    
    7%

Reviewed: September 2008

No statistically significant positive
findings
Meets WWC standards without reservations
Cognition outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Wechsler Preschool Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI) Animal Pegs subtest

Tools of the Mind vs. Business as usual

Posttest

3-4 year olds;
200 students

N/A

N/A

No

--
General Mathematics Achievement outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Woodcock-Johnson Revised (WJ-R): Applied Problems

Tools of the Mind vs. Business as usual

Posttest

3-4 year olds;
202 students

N/A

N/A

No

--
Oral language outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test III (PPVT-III)

Tools of the Mind vs. Business as usual

Posttest

3-4 year olds;
198 students

N/A

N/A

No

--
More Outcomes

Expressive One-Word Picture Vocabulary Test-Revised (EOWPVT-R)

Tools of the Mind vs. Business as usual

Posttest

3-4 year olds;
193 students

N/A

N/A

No

--
Print knowledge outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Get Ready to Read! (GRTR)

Tools of the Mind vs. Business as usual

Posttest

3-4 year olds;
220 students

N/A

N/A

No

--
More Outcomes

Woodcock-Johnson Revised (WJ-R): Letter-Word Identification subtest

Tools of the Mind vs. Business as usual

Posttest

3-4 year olds;
202 students

N/A

N/A

No

--


Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • Female: 47%
    Male: 53%

  • Urban
    • B
    • A
    • C
    • D
    • E
    • F
    • G
    • I
    • H
    • J
    • K
    • L
    • P
    • M
    • N
    • O
    • Q
    • R
    • S
    • V
    • U
    • T
    • W
    • X
    • Z
    • Y
    • a
    • h
    • i
    • b
    • d
    • e
    • f
    • c
    • g
    • j
    • k
    • l
    • m
    • n
    • o
    • p
    • q
    • r
    • s
    • t
    • u
    • x
    • w
    • y

    New Jersey
  • Race
    Asian
    4%
    Black
    2%
    Other or unknown
    2%
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic    
    93%
    Not Hispanic or Latino    
    7%

Setting

This study was conducted in 18 classrooms in a low-income urban school with state-financed Abbott full-day preschool education.

Study sample

In one school selected for the study, 7 classrooms on one floor were available for Tools of the Mind implementation and 11 classrooms on another floor were available for the control condition. Teachers and assistants were randomly assigned to classrooms using a stratified assignment procedure, and then three- and four-year-old children were randomly assigned to either Tools of the Mind curriculum classrooms or district curriculum classrooms. Poverty level, achievement, and minority status were similar across intervention and comparison groups. Among the children sampled, 93 percent are Hispanic, and about 70 percent consider Spanish their primary home language. Although the overall student attrition rate was more than 25 percent, and student consent after random assignment led to differential attrition, the post-attrition intervention and comparison samples were equivalent on achievement pretests. After one year, 85 Tools of the Mind students and 117 comparison students remained in the sample.

Intervention Group

Tools of the Mind aims to aid learning and development while emphasizing emergent literacy and self-regulation. The two main goals of the curriculum are to develop underlying cognitive skills (such as self-regulation, deliberate memory, and focused attention) and to develop specific academic skills (such as symbolic thought, literacy, and an understanding of math). Play is the leading activity for developing such skills and the curriculum emphasizes the teacher’s role in supporting the development of mature intentional dramatic play. The study was conducted during the first year of program implementation of Tools of the Mind.

Comparison Group

Control classrooms implemented the standard district-created curriculum, which was described as a full-day PreK balanced literacy curriculum with themes. In structured observations of the control group, frequently observed activities were art projects that correlated with the “letter of the week,” free play, large group movement and/or music, and such large group activities as story time. According to the study authors, although the control curriculum covered much of the same academic content and topics as Tools of the Mind, there was greater emphasis on teacher-imposed control and less on children’s self-regulation.

Outcome descriptions

For both pre- and post-tests, the authors administered Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-III, Expressive One-Word Picture Vocabulary Test-Revised, Animal Pegs Subtest of the Wechsler Preschool Primary Scale of Intelligence, and two subtests of the Woodcock-Johnson-Revised test (Applied Problems and Letter-Word Identification). Get Ready to Read! screening tool was used only at post-test assessment. IDEA Oral Language Proficiency Test was administered for the subsample of Spanish-speaking children. Problem Behaviors Scale of the Social Skills Rating System was also used in the study, but not included in this report because it was outside the scope of the Early Childhood Education review. For a more detailed description of these outcome measures, see Appendix A2.1–2.4.

Support for implementation

Teachers assigned to the Tools of the Mind group received four full days of curriculum training before the start of the school year. During the school year, they received 30-minute classroom visits approximately once a week from a Tools of the Mind trainer to address any difficulties they were having with the curriculum. In addition, Tools of the Mind teachers received 1 half-day workshop and 5 one-hour lunchtime meetings to discuss aspects of the curriculum. Control group teachers received similar amounts of training. They attended workshops on the already established district curriculum given by the district for the same amount of time.

 

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