Lia Sandilos, IES Postdoctoral Fellow, in UVA Today

University of Virginia researchers have found that students learn more from teachers whom the researchers characterize as “warm demanders” – teachers who expect a lot of their students academically, lead a very well-organized classroom and make students feel supported in their efforts.

Social Development Lab Findings on NPR

5 Lessons Education Research Taught Us In 2014. Our work- “Efficacy of the Responsive Classroom Approach: Results from a 3-Year, Longitudinal Randomized Controlled Trial,” is described in this article. Check out lesson #5!

Social Development Lab Findings in Journal of Educational Psychology

To What Extent Do Teacher–Student Interaction Quality and Student Gender Contribute to Fifth Graders’
Engagement in Mathematics Learning?
This study examines concurrent teacher–student interaction quality and 5th graders’ (n=387) engagement in mathematics classrooms (n=63) and considers how teacher–student interaction quality relates to engagement differently for boys and girls. Three approaches were used to measure student engagement in mathematics: Research assistants observed engaged behavior, teachers reported on students’ engagement, and students completed questionnaires. Engagement data were conducted 3 times per year concurrent with measures of teacher–student interaction quality. Results showed small but statistically significant associations among the 3 methods. Results of multilevel models showed only 1 significant finding linking quality of teacher–student interactions to observed or teacher-reported behavioral engagement; higher classroom organization related to higher levels of observed behavioral engagement.
However, the multilevel models produced a rich set of findings for student-reported engagement. Students in classrooms with higher emotional support reported higher cognitive, emotional, and social engagement. Students in classrooms higher in classroom organization reported more cognitive, emotional, and social engagement. Interaction effects (Gender x Teacher–student interaction quality) were present for student-reported engagement outcomes but not in observed or teacher-reported engagement. Boys (but not girls) in classrooms with higher observed classroom organization reported more cognitive and emotional engagement. In classrooms with higher instructional support, boys reported higher but girls reported lower social engagement. The discussion explores implications of varied approaches to measuring engagement, interprets teacher–student interaction quality and gender findings, and considers the usefulness of student report in understanding students’ math experiences.

Social Development Lab Findings in AERJ

Results from a large, rigorous, three year study of the Responsive Classroom® approach were published in the American Educational Research Journal in March, 2014. The research examined the efficacy of the RC approach from 2008-2011. Twenty four schools were randomly assigned into intervention or comparison conditions. The research team studied over 2000 students and their teachers from the end of second grade to the end of fifth grade to examine the influence of exposure to the RC Approach on math and reading achievement. The team conducted careful measurement of actual use of RC practices. Findings showed that exposure to RC practices produced 11-12%-ile gains in student math and reading achievement over three years. Gains were comparable for those students eligible and not eligible for free lunch. Gains were larger for students who were in the lowest quartile (below 25%-ile) in math achievement in second grade. An important nuance requires attention. Simply receiving training in the RC approach did not produce increases (or decreases) in student achievement. Achievement gains were only evident when teachers adopted the RC practices and used them regularly in the classroom. Focus groups with teachers revealed experiences that were important to teachers in helping them fully utilize RC practices. Principal support for use of RC practices and efforts by school leadership to create a psychologically-safe environment allowed teachers to take the risk of learning and using RC practices. For more information:

Social Development Lab Findings in the News

Layton, Lyndsey. (March 6, 2014). Socialization technique helps in academic achievement, trial study finds. The Washington Post. Read the article.

Mosle, S. (October 27, 2012). Teaching Lessons. The New York Times Opinionator. Read the article.

Zubrzycki, J. (September 13, 2012). Research Links ‘Responsive’ Teaching to Academic Gains.
Education Week. Read the article.

Working in the Social Development Lab

The Social Development Lab periodically hires research assistants and post-doctoral trainees. If interested, please contact [email protected] to learn about current opportunities.