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September 2005

From the National Center for Education Research (NCER)

First-Year Evaluation of Social and Character Development Research Program Completed

The first year of this multi-site evaluation—a study of the efficacy of social emotional learning, character education, and violence prevention interventions designed to promote prosocial behavior, academic achievement, and school climate, and reduce problem behavior—has been successfully completed. Seven school-wide programs were randomly assigned to 88 elementary schools in 6 states. More than 4,000 third-grade students were assessed in the fall of 2004 and spring of 2005 using a comprehensive measurement battery. Data from the 2004-05 school year are currently undergoing analysis by Mathematica Policy Research Inc., the contractor for this study, to determine the impact of the seven different programs after 1 year of implementation in schools. Impact findings are scheduled for dissemination in 2006. Third-graders in this evaluation will be followed through fifth grade.

Highlights From Research Funded Under the Cognition and Student Learning Program

purpose of the Cognition and Student Learning research program is to contribute to the improvement of student learning by bringing recent advances in cognitive science to bear on significant problems in education. The long-term goals of this program are to develop approaches to instruction that are based on principles of learning and information processing gained from cognitive science and to provide evidence of their usefulness in education settings. Here are some observations from studies currently under way:
In most mathematics textbooks, each set of homework problems comprises primarily problems based on the most recent lesson. In other words, the homework problems corresponding to a given topic are "massed" into one assignment and not "distributed" across different assignments. The results of our experiments, however, suggest that a distributed-practice format produces much better long-term retention than a massed-practice format.—Douglas Rohrer, University of South Florida and Harold Pashler, University of California, San Diego

R&D Centers Funded

IES recently awarded 5-year $10 million grants to the: