What we're asking in education

What are the benefits of after-school programming for children?

Effective after-school programming can bring a wide range of benefits to youth, families, and communities. Programs have the potential to develop pro-social skills, improve academic performance, reduce risky behaviors, promote health and wellness, and provide a safe, structured environment for the children of working parents. Understanding conditions that are necessary to improve outcomes for children through after-school programming is critical in effectively filling service gaps for children and families in need. For over fifteen years, PRG has conducted outcomes research and annual evaluations of an after-school program in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Can simulation-based science learning in elementary school improve STEM engagement and achievement?

Jobs in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) pay better on average and are projected to grow at higher rates than non-STEM jobs. Virtually all STEM occupations require post-secondary education, yet fewer than 20% of American students obtain a STEM-related degree. Persistent academic engagement is a well-established predictor of academic achievement. While research has documented the decline in STEM interest among students from elementary to high school, little evidence exists to demonstrate why student perceptions of STEM curricula and careers change during this time. Opportunities to interact with problem-based, immersive, or simulation-based learning in elementary school may motivate students to engage with and better achieve in STEM subjects. Employing approaches that range from large-scale cluster-level RCTs to in-depth qualitative interviews with students and teachers in the Mid-Atlantic region, PRG’s research examines the potential impact of simulation-based science learning experiences on students’ engagement with science, self-efficacy in science, and interest in pursuing careers in the STEM field. PRG’s work has also explored the classroom conditions under which simulation-based learning experiences are most effective and why.

Can a mentoring program aimed at developing social and emotional skills improve educational outcomes?

Literature suggests that there is a window of opportunity to prevent the consequences of disengagement for students who may be on the path towards school dropout, by developing targeted interventions that focus on the transitions into middle and high school. PRG is conducting several studies to examine the efficacy of school transition and mentoring programs that aim to improve academic outcomes, social and emotional skills, and school connectedness.