CASTL Piloting Interventions in Chile and Ecuador

The Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL) at the University of Virginia, is currently developing and piloting interventions aimed at improving the quality of classroom interactions between students and teachers in Chile and Ecuador. This work involves partnerships between CASTL, Teachstone, the Inter-American Development Bank, Harvard University, and Fundación Educaional Opportunidad (Chile). This study came about following previous studies conducted in Latin American classrooms suggesting that improvements in teacher-student interactions may result in better student outcomes. The current project includes testing the intervention in a large, randomized trial in Ecuador next year and then other Latin American countries down the road.

The current project stems from questions posed a few years ago by the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, D.C. IDB researchers wanted to know why, despite heavy investments in education in the past decade, students in Ecuador didn’t perform as well as predicted. They found that students perform better when the quality of their moment-to-moment interactions with their teachers, as measured by the UVA developed Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) observation tool, were higher. Based on these findings, IDB commissioned education researchers at CASTL to assess classroom experiences of kindergarten, first- and second-grade students in Brazil, Chile and Ecuador. The results from that project are featured in the Bank’s publication ‘Development in the Americas’, to be published later this year.

‘’We are now ready for the next logical step – moving from understanding what is happening in the classrooms to thinking about how to improve students’ experiences in them,’’ says Jennifer LoCasale-Crouch, research assistant professor at CASTL and coordinator of the research efforts in Latin America.

‘’We are taking two interventions found effective in improving teacher-child interactions in the US and considering how to combine them and adapt them for use in this new context,’’ says LoCasale-Crouch. The two interventions - ‘Making the Most of Classroom Interactions’ and ‘My Teaching Partner (MTP) Coaching’ interventions - place a strong emphasis on objectively defining, seeing and engaging in teacher-child interactions that support children’s development.”

For now, the work includes translating the interventions, considering how they will be delivered and how they will be introduced to teachers. ‘’We are also building a video library with examples of what good interactions in the classroom look like, so we can reinforce these ideas with context relevant models. Filming in Chile and Ecuador classrooms is happening as we speak.’’

After the interventions are translated, the research team will continue to pilot and ‘fine-tune’ them so they have the best chance at improving teacher-student interactions. The interventions will then be ready to test in a large, randomized trial in Ecuador next year. As part of the study, IDB will collect data and see how well the interventions are changing classroom interactions and improving the outcomes of the students within them. If successful, researchers plan to implement the interventions in additional Latin American countries.