CHILD DEVELOPMENT 

AND

LEARNING

'Trainee teachers made sharper assessments about learning difficulties after receiving feedback from AI'

Univerity of Cambridge- Sailer et al.

DOI: 10.1016/j.learninstruc.2022.101620

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11 April 2022 (Article)

Artificial intelligence has significantly improved trainee teachers' reasoning skills in identifying students with learning difficulties compared to trainees who reflected upon the judgements made by experts. Researchers attributed such enhancement to AI's ability to adapt to the trainees' work, producing more personal and clearer feedback.

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'Doctoral researcher explains his thesis to children in Frontiers for Young Minds'

KCL- Rodero, Lamata & Niederer

DOI: 10.3389/frym.2022.685000

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30 March 2022 (Article)

Researchers have translated complex concepts (e.g. cardiac activities) into easily-understood analogies and games for young readers to grow interested in the field of science, peer-reviewed also by young readers. Furthermore, the authors considered this a helpful practice for them to gain deeper insights into the topic they are studying by explaining them in plainer words.

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'Child Psychologists Talk About the Importance of Talking to Children About the Invasion of Ukraine'

University of Calgary - Racine, N. et al.

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28 February 2022 (Article)

Child psychologists explored whether, and if so how, to talk to children about tragic events, like the invasion of Ukraine. They claim that discussing a difficult event may in fact decrease stress and help children process their emotions better. Furthermore, the researchers argue that talking to children about the war in Ukraine may encourage empathic views and a better understanding of emotions. Even though the conversation needs to be adapted based on the age of the child, the benefits remain the same at every age. 

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'War-Related Trauma Is Linked to Increased Sustained Attention to Threat in Children'

Queen Mary University of London- Michalek, J. et al.

DOI: 10.1111/cdev.13739

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11 February 2022 (Article)

Researchers explored the link between early experiences of war and displacement and later effects on children’s mental health and development. Syrian and Jordanian refugees were given questionnaires that measure PTSD, anxiety/depression, insecurity, distress, and trauma. Results indicate that children who have experienced trauma report that they not only have more problems like anxiety, depression but also tend to dwell longer on images of angry faces, suggesting difficulties in disengaging from threats. Attentional control theory suggests that disengagement may be due to disruptions to cognitive control. 

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'Stammering may be linked with anxiety in some children and adolescents'

UCL- Bernard et al.

DOI: 10.1044/2021_JSLHR-21-00236

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27 January 2022 (Article)

The research compared symptoms of anxiety and depression of children and adolescents (from two to 18 years old) who do and do not stammer. Overall, it was found that children and adolescents who stammer reported higher anxiety symptoms than those who did not. However, the high variation across studies also means not all young people who stammer experience anxiety. Risk factors such as exposure to bullying are assumed to increase to risk or resilience of those who stammer, although they remain unclear due to the limited number of studies. The finding of the study highlights the importance to ensure the well-being and mental health of young people who stammer. 

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'Do Private Schools Improve Learning Outcomes? Evidence from Within-Household Comparisons in East Africa and South Asia'

University of Cambridge- Skene et al.

DOI: 10.1111/cdev.13730

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12 January 2022 (Article)

With significant evidence, the study suggested that  "guided play", which often refers to playful educational activities, are more effective than the traditional instructional styles to support children's learning and development. Those child-centred activities could be particularly useful when learning abstract mathematical concepts.   The finding is meaningful as the study was the first to explore the effects of guided play with the additional support from an adult using prompts. 

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'Multilingualism, Multilingual Identity and Academic Attainment: Evidence from Secondary Schools in England'

University of Cambridge- Rutger et al.

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10 November 2021 (Article)

The research investigates the relationship between "multilingual identity" and academic attainment. Results show that students who identify as “multilingual” had better academic performance than those who did not, as reflected in their GCSE results. The pattern is not only limited to language subjects but also extends to science subjects and mathematics. Furthermore, the research demonstrates that it is the self-identification as multilingual rather than language proficiency that improves academic performance. While the reason behind the pattern is not explored, researchers suggest that self-identified multilingual tend to have a “growth mindset” and a stronger sense of self-belief, leading to better academic achievements.

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'Rate of mental disorders among children remained stable in 2021 after previous rise'

University of Cambridge- Tamsin Ford

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30 September 2021 (Article)

The survey suggested that the proportion of young people who got potential mental disorders remained stable from 2020 to 2021, but showed an increase from 10% to 17%( 17-19 years old) , and 12% to 17% (6-16 years old). 39% children aged from six to 16 years experienced worse mental states between 2017 to 2021, while 22% experienced an improvement. For young people aged from 17 to 23, 53% have deteriorated and 15% experienced an improvement since 2017. 

 Kids with  Masks

'Child abuse and neglect linked to early death in adulthood'

UCL & University of Cambridge- Nina T. Rogers

DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-050914

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23 September 2021 (Article)

The study examined the association between child maltreatment and mortality in adulthood. Results suggested that adults who experienced sexual and physical abuse by the age of 16 would be exposed to higher risks of premature mortality. Similarly, disadvantaged social status at birth leads to risks 1.4 times higher than those in the other socioeconomic groups.  

Family Dispute

'Surge in smoking among young adults during lockdown'

UCL- Sarah E. Jackson et al.

DOI: 10.1111/add.15656

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25 August 2021 (Article)

The study revealed an increase in young adults developing the habit of smoking, especially among female and those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Such a phenomenon could be attributed to the misbelief that smoking relieves stress during a stressful period like the first lockdown. This urges for more campaigns and prevention services to be implemented.

Man Vaping

'Physically punishing children is not effective and increases behavioural problems'

Univeristy of Cambridge - Anja Heilmann et al.

DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(21)00582-1

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29 June 2021 (Article)

This twenty-year study has found no positive impact of corporal punishment on children. Rather, the more force imposed onto the kid, the more behavioural and social difficulties were found. Also, these children often experience more severe violence. This study calls for immediate legislation to make home a safe environment for children to grow.

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'Teenagers at greatest risk of self-harming could be identified almost a decade earlier'

Univeristy of Cambridge - Stepheni Uh et al.

DOI: 10.1016/j.jaac.2021.03.010

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15 June 2021 (Article)

Analyzing the data with artificial intelligence, researchers have identified two sets of characteristics predictive of self-harm among youngsters: the first group is characterized by low-esteem and depression symptoms with a higher likelihood of bully and bad relationships with family. The second group tend to have problems with socializing with peers and exhibit a greater tendency of impulsivity. These characteristics could be manifested a decade before self-harming.  

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'Extra classroom time may do little to help pupils recover lost learning after COVID-19'

Univeristy of Cambridge - Vaughan Connolly

DOI: 10.14324/LRE.19.1.17

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28 May 2021 (Article)

Measuring the GCSE scores among year 11 students in 2800 schools in England, the findings suggest that increasing classroom time for an hour could only produce moderate improvement. Rather, the researchers suggest a more targeted teaching method to account for the students' learning needs, which were aggravated by Covid.

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'Opinion: Pandemic babies - how Covid-19 has affected child development'

UCL - Sunil Bhopal, Pasco Fearon

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11 March 2021 (Article) 

Receiving adequate social interaction and proper parenting is a massive challenge for babies born after lockdown in March 2020. Given the first few years of development is vital to one's personal growth, more longitudinal researches are needed to observe the long-term effects of the pandemic on one's development.

Baby with Stethoscope

'Video-led feedback programme reduces behaviour problems in children as young as 12 months'

University of Cambridge - Christine O’Farrelly et al.

DOI:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2020.6834

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16 March 2021 (Article) 

Parents who received video-feedback of their interaction with their toddlers was found to effectively improve their parenting ability and lower the risk of developing challenging behaviours among toddlers aged one to two. Such an intervention seems to have massive practical implications for parenting programmes.

Mother Playing with Baby

'Smacking young children has long-lasting effects'

UCL

DOI: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2020.104890

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13 January 2021 (Article) 

Researchers studying childhood negative experience between the ages 3 to 14 have revealed long-term psychological effects on personal development. Children experiencing frequent corporal punishment tend to internalize problems, leading to greater risk of loneliness, anxiety and lack of confidence. Also, children with such experience are prompted to exihibit behavioural problems at age 14.

Drawing Face

'Significant increase in depression seen among children during first lockdown'

University of Cambridge 

DOI: 10.1136/archdischild-2020-320372

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08 December 2020

Children in Yoga Class

'Emotional words are easier for young children to learn'

UCL-led study 

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20 August 2020

Happy Children

'Abused children who were adopted did ‘significantly better’ than those brought up in care – research'

Univerity of Oxford- Ward et al.

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-76429-6

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06 April 2022 (Article)

Compared to children who grew up in foster care, those who were adopted tend to show better life outcomes (e.g. academic performance, university uptake rates). This is probably because adopted children have a stronger sense of belonging and stability in their new family, thus forming a healthier sense of identity.

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'Scientists find that the impact of social media on wellbeing varies across adolescence'

University of Cambridge- Orben et al.

DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-29296-3

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28 March 2022 (Article)

Researchers have investigated the link between social media use and life satisfaction and found that there is a difference in the impact of social media on the well-being of adolescence. For girls, social media use between the age of 11 and 13 years was associated with a decrease in life satisfaction one year later, whereas the same impact occurred later in adolescence between the age of 14 and 15 years for boys. The discrepancy was suggested to be associated with boys’ later developmental changes in the brain and puberty, but further research is required.  This impact occurs again at the age of 19 years for both females and males, but the same effect is no longer statistically significant at other times. It demonstrates the great complexity of the link between social media use and mental well-being.  The changes within the bodies, such as brain development and puberty, as well as the social contexts, are all factors that make people feel particularly vulnerable to social media. The finding highlights the need to pay more attention to adolescents who will be particularly sensitive to social media at certain times. 

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'Children’s Mathematical Skills are Influenced by Relational Language '

University of Minnesota- Chan, J. et al. 

DOI: 10.1111/cdev.13737

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15 February 2022 (Article)

This study investigates how non-numerical skills, namely relational language (vocabulary describing quantitative and spatial relations)  influences mathematical skills in kindergarteners. A test was used to measure children’s knowledge of relational languages (The Boehm Test of Basic Concepts), one to measure general verbal knowledge, and another one to measure number relation skills. The results suggest that there is a connection between relational language and later number relation skills, demonstrating potential pathways between relational language and math skills.

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'Different types of focus: Caregiver–child interaction and changes in preschool children’s attention in two cultures'

Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development of the National Institutes of Health- Senzaki & Shimizu

DOI: 10.1111/cdev.13731

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31 January 2022 (Article)

Researchers employed behavioural and eye-tracking measurements to investigate how caregivers in different cultures direct children's attention and how their attention to objects and contextual backgrounds changed in the United States and Japan. The finding proposed that after caregiver-child interaction, significant cultural differences in attention emerged, which are suggested to be crucial to support children's concept formation and development. The finding highlights the role of cultural social interactions in the development of attention.

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'Do Private Schools Improve Learning Outcomes? Evidence from Within-Household Comparisons in East Africa and South Asia'

UCL- Bradbury & Wyse

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19 January 2022 (Article)

Recently, a mandatory phonics teaching technique has been enforced by the government in English primary schools. This type of teaching is separated from other English teaching;  it focuses on phonemes and how they are represented by letters. And this emphasis on phonics teaching remains debatable. The current research questions this approach and suggests that there is no solid evidence supporting the effectiveness of synthetic phonics teaching. Additionally, it was found that the most effective phonics teaching was associated with whole texts in every lesson. The finding highlights a need to call for a more balanced approach to the teaching of reading. 

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'Do Private Schools Improve Learning Outcomes? Evidence from Within-Household Comparisons in East Africa and South Asia'

University of Cambridge- Gruijter et al.

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16 November 2021 (Article)

The research explores whether the increasing number of private schools in low-income countries benefits the learning gains of children in these countries. The findings of the study suggest that private schooling has a limited effect on increasing learning gains. While privately-educated children perform better academically than their state-educated counterparts, the difference becomes much smaller once factors such as family background are taken into account. Private educational institutions are also found to be poorly resourced and managed, explaining their minimal benefits on improving children’s learning experience.

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'Lockdown wellbeing: children who spent more time in nature fared best'

University of Cambridge- Friedman et al.

DOI: 10.1002/pan3.10270

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13 October 2021 (Article)

An increased connection with nature was found to be effective in buffering against the negative effects on children's behaviours and emotions as a result of Covid-19 lockdown, regardless of their socio-economic backgrounds. However, compared to more affluent families, children from disadvantaged family backgrounds are less likely to spend time in nature. Highlighting the significance of the connection with nature on children's mental health. The finding could be important in redesigning the lockdown rules. 

Quarantine

'Willingness of Children and Adolescents to have COVID-19 Vaccination'

University of Oxford- Mina Fazel et al.

DOI: 10.1016/j.eclinm.2021.101144

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27 September 2021 (Article)

The survey revealed that young people who are less willing to receive Covid-19 vaccination usually come from the most disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds and have less belongingness to the school community. The results highlight the importance of providing caregivers with accurate information and helping them to address their worries and fear for the vaccination.  

Vaccinating

'National primary school tests have little effect on children’s happiness and wellbeing'

UCL- John Jerrim

DOI: 10.1080/0969594X.2021.1929829

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23 September 2021 (Article)

The research revealed that the National Curriculum Key Stage 2 tests, which are used to assess primary students' English and Mathematics ability, have little effect on students' wellbeing and happiness levels.  According to the study, there is no significant difference between the mental status levels of those who took and who did not the tests; while among those who did sit the tests, no noticeable changes in their feelings were found afterwards. The results serve as a counter to the narrative about how children's mental wellbeing and development is negatively influenced by the tests they take. 

Learning is Fun

'Heads reveal how ‘overwhelming’ Government guidance held schools back as COVID hit'

University of Cambridge- Peter Fotheringham et al.

DOI: 10.1002/berj.3760

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05 August 2021 (Article)

Researchers from UCL and the University of Cambridge have collected data from school headteachers and executive heads using questionnaires and interviews, revealing a massive outcry towards the ever-changing Covid policies. Such a pressure have casted concerns on the closures of schools similar to previous pandemics.

Classroom

'Being clean and hygienic need not impair childhood immunity'

UCL - Rook Graham AW & Sally F. Bloomfield

DOI: 10.1016/j.jaci.2021.05.008

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7 July 2021 (Article)

While some have argued the importance of exposing children to particular microorganisms for better immunity, researchers have debunked such a myth by showing a lower rate of developing allergies among individuals living in a cleaner environment, not to mention the enhancements brought by vaccines.

Cleaning Materials

'Lack of maths education negatively affects adolescent brain and cognitive development'

University of Oxford - George Zacharopolous, Roi Cohen Kadosh, Francesco Sella 

DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2013155118

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7 June 2021 (Article)

Researchers studying the effects of stopping Maths education have revealed a significant drop in chemicals essential for cognitive functions including problem solving and memory. Besides cognitive functioning, a significant gap in maths attainment is found between those who continued maths education and those who do not after 19 months. 

Math Exercises

'Poor children are being ‘failed by the system’ on road to higher education in lower-income countries'

Univeristy of Cambridge - Sonia Ilie, Pauline Rose, Anna Vignoles

DOI: 10.1002/berj.3723

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7 April 2021 (Article)

This research examined the wealth status and education attainment among 3500 teenagers in Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam. The results suggested the wealthiest students were 30% more likely to enter tertiary education compared to the poorest ones. Such a pattern was not a product of difference in ability but socio-economic status, given that the disparity was manifested to a larger extent as children of the same potential progress to higher educational levels. Therefore, interventions targeting wealth gap should be implemented at an early age to tackle such disparity.

Math Exercises

'Physical activity may help to close the wealth gap in school attainment by improving self-control'

Univeristy of Cambridge - Fotini Vasilopoulos, Michelle R. Ellefson

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0250984

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20 May 2021 (Article)

Researchers have found that physical activity has a positive knock-on effect for academic performance. Furthermore, the results suggested the disadvantaged children often lack the chance to participate in sports, calling schools to pay more attention to enable students for physical activities rather than increasing classroom time in post-Covid period.

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'Teaching pupils empathy measurably improves their creative abilities, study finds'

University of Cambridge - Helen Demetriou, Bill Nicholl

DOI: 10.1177/1365480221989500

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3 February 2021 (Article) 

The study working with two London secondary schools have revealed a significant improvement in creativity scores among pupils after applying a set of thinking tools compared to normal curriculum. This is accompanied by an increase in (cognitive) empathy and perspective-taking.

Creative Thoughts

'Learning boosts happiness more than rewards do'

UCL

DOI: 10.7554/eLife.57977

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05 January 2021 (Article) 

Researchers in the eLife study revealed that participants' happiness depends not on the size of the rewards (e.g. monetary incentives) but whether they were able to predict the outcomes via the learning from experiences.

Distance Learning

'Research shows a link between the home environment and children’s development of self-regulation' 

UCL

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2020.105761

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17 December 2020

Children's Play Space

'Responses needed for the first UK national survey supporting evidence for Attachment Interventions'

UCL and University of York

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5 March 2020

Parent and Child at the Supermarket