Stephanie Simmons Zuilkowski's research while affiliated with Florida State University and other places

Publications (49)

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Contextualizing the role of teachers in social-emotional learning (SEL) in Malawi, we examine how teachers' comfort with, commitment to, and perceived school culture toward SEL relate to their actual teaching of it. Using surveys from 432 primary school teachers (20-60 years old), we found teacher comfort and supportive school culture were positive...
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High quality teaching and learning materials (TLM) are essential for early literacy learning. The purpose of this study was to determine if the TLM used in schools in Kano State, Nigeria, were culturally appropriate, gender balanced and relevant to the Nigeria Universal Basic Education Curriculum, with particular emphasis on primary reading. Using...
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While the effects of early childhood development on later educational outcomes have been widely studied in western countries, rigorous evidence from sub-Saharan African countries is limited. This longitudinal study uses Zambian children's developmental outcomes at age six as predictors of educational enrollment and attainment at age 15. Fine motor,...
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The COVID-19 pandemic that began in early 2020 has had consequences for children's education globally, as schools closed and parents found themselves playing the role of teacher, alongside their economic and other community roles. This study aims to explore the experiences of parents in northern Nigeria as they attempted to support their primary sc...
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Print-rich environments are critical to early literacy development. This study profiled how teachers organise literacy environments in 21 early-primary classrooms (grade 1–3) in rural Mozambique. We focused on two dimensions of classroom literacy environments—physical environments (e.g. access to literacy resources, visibility of print materials, p...
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In this study, we analyze quantitative survey and assessment data on 712 students in northeast Nigeria to examine, first, which students feel safe in school in a region experiencing protracted conflict, and second, how perceived safety was associated with literacy. Students with vision and hearing disabilities were less likely than other children t...
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Teachers in northern Nigeria face large class sizes that lead to challenges in successfully teaching children to read. In this study, we documented primary grades classes with as many as 160 children. We used in-depth interviews with 20 teachers in Kano State to explore how teachers approached reading instruction, as these numbers preclude the inst...
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The present study explored the role of vocabulary and decoding skills in predicting reading comprehension, utilizing data from 322 first- grade children from four elementary schools in Kenya. The children were administered a comprehensive battery of tests to assess pseudo-word reading skills, oral reading fluency, reading comprehension, and recepti...
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Improving literacy outcomes in sub‐Saharan Africa is a central focus of national governments, donors and non‐governmental organisations alike, as evidenced by the inclusion of literacy as a target in the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goal 4. Though significant international development funding has been devoted to teacher training in the r...
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Reading skills are foundational for daily lives, academic achievement, and careers. In this study, we systematically reviewed literacy interventions in low‐ and middle‐income countries, and estimated their effects on children's reading skills using a meta‐analytic approach. A total of 67 studies (N = 213,464) from 32 countries found in various data...
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Background/Context Low-cost private schools (LCPSs) represent a large and growing share of schools in many low- and middle-income countries, including Kenya. In some Nairobi neighborhoods, more than half of children attend LCPSs, despite policies providing free access to public education. Parents generally choose LCPSs because they believe they are...
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Adolescent health demands specific attention because adolescents have the lowest levels of health-care coverage of any age-group globally. The main objective as addressed in this article was to explore the lived experience of adolescent mothers and the services provided to them by community health assistants (CHAs) in rural Zambia. Because the numb...
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Background Governments in low‐income countries and donors have invested the equivalent of hundreds of millions of dollars in enhancing reading outcomes. Although reliable measures exist to assess emergent literacy skills in international contexts, there is little consensus on the assessment of reading comprehension. Methods Using data from 5,389 K...
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This mixed-methods study investigates teacher understandings of Zambia's school re-entry policy for adolescent mothers. Nearly one in three Zambian girls has been pregnant by 19 (Population Council, UNFPA, & Republic of Zambia, 2017). Despite having the legal right to attend school, few young mothers complete their schooling. As the ground-level im...
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Background: While the literature on physical punishment concludes that it has negative effects on children, the practice remains common in many countries. In post-conflict countries with nongovernmental organizations (NGO) operating in child protection, traditional disciplinary practices may conflict with international child rights agendas. The co...
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Most research on reading acquisition is conducted in high-income countries, and the majority of the limited research from middle- and low-income countries focuses exclusively on school settings. We therefore know little about how home literacy environments (HLEs) relate to early reading skill acquisition in low-resource settings. This study uses ba...
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Teacher educators in Nigeria receive limited professional development, particularly regarding the instruction of early grade reading skills. As part of the USAID-funded Northern Education Initiative Plus project, Florida State University faculty provided intensive teacher educator professional development to staff at four Teacher Education Institut...
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Background Social and emotional learning (SEL) positively impacts children's school achievement and adult productivity. Successful implementation of SEL relies on teachers’ pedagogical beliefs and practices. Aims We examined whether the Teachers’ SEL Belief Scale designed in the United States is adoptable in low‐income countries such as Malawi in...
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Several rigorously evaluated programs have recently shown positive effects on early literacy and numeracy outcomes in developing countries. However, these programs have not been designed to evaluate which ingredients of the interventions are most essential to improve literacy outcomes. Policy makers therefore lack evidence as to whether program ing...
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This chapter explores the consequences of war on the development and mental health of adolescents. The discussion begins by framing prevention and intervention programs within the context of human security. The example of war-affected youth in Sierra Leone is used to illustrate the interrelatedness of the core security needs and rights of adolescen...
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Limited rigorous evidence is available from sub-Saharan Africa regarding whether children who learn to read in their mother tongue will have higher learning outcomes in other subjects. A randomised controlled trial of mother-tongue literacy instruction, the Primary Math and Reading (PRIMR) Initiative, was implemented in Kenya from 2013 to 2014. We...
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Teacher education in Ethiopia has undergone multiple reforms, yet primary students still struggle to learn to read. The USAID-funded Reading for Ethiopia's Achievement Developed - Technical Assistance project aimed to reform the primary school curriculum and teacher education to improve instructional approaches to teaching reading and writing. We e...
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The recent growth of schooling and urban residence represents a major change to the cultural context of child development across Africa. The aim of this article is to examine the relationship between these social changes in the Gambia and the development of both cognitive skills and behaviors viewed by participant communities as the basis for succe...
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Low-cost private schools (LCPS) are widespread in Kenya, particularly in urban areas. This study examines the reasons that parents send children to fee-charging schools in a context of free public primary education. Drawing on parent survey and interview data, as well as interviews with national policy makers, we found that parents who chose LCPS f...
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Indonesia has dramatically increased school enrolment at the secondary level over the past several decades, as reflected in national statistics. However, significant variation in enrolment rates remains across regions and genders. In some areas, nearly all youth complete secondary school; in others fewer than half attend. This study investigates th...
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Building on the Education for All movement, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development re-emphasises quality education as a discrete goal. Contextualising the discussion surrounding this goal in Zambia, this study examines how education quality is conceptualised by educational stakeholders at local, national, and global levels. Triangulating teach...
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Despite increased investment in early childhood care and education (ECCE) globally, little is known about its effectiveness in low-income countries. Using kernel exact matching within a national sample of 1,623 Zambian six-year-olds, we test the associations between ECCE participation and seven domains of children's school readiness. We find ECCE p...
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Research in sub-Saharan Africa investigating the effect of mother tongue (MT) literacy instruction at medium scale is limited. A randomized controlled trial of MT literacy instruction was implemented in 2013 and 2014 as part of the Primary Math and Reading (PRIMR) Initiative in Kenya. We compare the effect of two treatment groups—the base PRIMR pro...
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In Sierra Leone, as in conflict and postconflict settings around the world, youth are coping with their exposure to violence during conflict as well as the poverty and displacement that follow war and the stigma that can persist long after involvement with armed groups has ended. Both contextual and individual factors influence whether youth overco...
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Initial access to school is nearly universal in Kenya, but many children who enroll drop out before completing primary school. In this mixed-methods study, we use quantitative data from a randomized control trial involving 2666 upper primary-grade students, as well as qualitative data from interviews with 41 schoolchildren, dropouts, and parents, t...
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We evaluated a program to improve literacy instruction on the Kenyan Coast using training workshops, semi-scripted lesson plans and weekly text message support for teachers to understand its impact on students' literacy outcomes and on the classroom practices leading to those outcomes. The evaluation ran from the beginning of Grade 1 to the end of...
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Education policymakers are investing in information and communications technology (ICT) without a research base on how ICT improves outcomes. There is limited research on the effects of different types of ICT investments on outcomes. The Kenya Primary Math and Reading (PRIMR) study implemented a randomized controlled trial comparing the effects and...
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Over the past decade, researchers have shown increased interest in examining the cognitive development of children in non-Western countries, often in connection with evaluations of health and educational interventions. However, many studies have used Western-developed measures without proper consideration of contextual validity. Across domains—from...
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Background The child protection community is increasingly focused on developing tools to assess threats to child protection and the basic security needs and rights of children and families living in adverse circumstances. Although tremendous advances have been made to improve measurement of individual child health status or household functioning f...
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Despite increased access to antiretrovirals, HIV/AIDS continues to impact millions across sub-Saharan Africa. In Uganda, stigmatization compounds the challenges of poverty and poor government service provision, often limiting children's school participation. Holistic family support interventions are a promising strategy to ensure that children enro...
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Instructional coaching has improved student outcomes in the United States, and may help to solve Kenya's literacy problems. Coaching is costly, however, and evidence is lacking regarding the most cost-efficient teacher-to-coach ratio. We used student literacy outcome data from more than 8000 students participating in the Kenya Primary Math and Read...
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Despite rapid growth in literacy-related programmes and evaluation in sub-Saharan Africa, little critical attention has been paid to the relevance of assumptions that underlie existing assessment methods. This study focuses on the issue of timing in the assessment of oral reading fluency, a critical component of successful reading (Chard, Vaughn, &...
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Past research suggests robust positive associations between household socioeconomic status and children's early cognitive development in Western countries. Relatively little is known about these relations in low-income country settings characterized by economic adversity, high prevalence of malnutrition and infectious disease, and relatively lower...
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In recent years, the Education for All movement has focused more intensely on the quality of education, rather than simply provision. Many recent and current education quality interventions focus on literacy, which is the core skill required for further academic success. Despite this focus on the quality of literacy instruction in developing countr...
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This article examines the relationship of wartime experience and reintegration supports to students’ risk of school dropout. It draws on longitudinal, mixed-methods data collected among children and youth in Sierra Leone from 2002 through 2008. The study finds that family financial support and perceived social support are positively associated with...
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While educational participation is high in Kenya, literacy outcomes remain poor. The PRIMR Initiative aims to improve literacy learning by aligning curriculum and teacher practices with current research, providing ongoing instructional support and observation, and supplying basic instructional materials and English and Kiswahili books for students....
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Early childhood malaria is often fatal, but its impact on the development and education of survivors has not received much attention. Malaria impacts cognitive development in a number of ways that may impact later educational participation. In this study, we examine the long-term educational effects of preventing early childhood malaria. Does inter...
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Despite the frequent use of schools and schoolchildren to disseminate information to wider communities in sub-Saharan Africa, little research has been done examining whether children are seen as trustworthy sources of information. Participants (67 women and 66 men aged 19–77 years living in coastal Kenya) listened to different claims made by an adu...
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While early childhood education has received increasing attention in the developing world in recent years, relatively little evidence is available from sub-Saharan Africa on its effects on child development and subsequent school enrolment. We use a prospective case-control design to evaluate the developmental impact of a community-based early child...
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Many studies have attempted to determine the relationship between education and HIV status. However, a complete and causal understanding of this relationship requires analysis of its mediating pathways, focusing on sexual behaviors. We developed a series of hypotheses based on the differential effect of educational attainment on three sexual behavi...

Citations

... The kinds of provided experience may not be regarded as mathematical by people in general. While all adults can identify cooking and meeting a train on time as involving mathematics, in other everyday experiences, mathematics is sometimes not so obvious (Zuilkowski et al., 2020). Teachers need to store examples for young learners' mathematical experiences (Flevares & Schiff, 2013). ...
... First, we need to unravel what parents are doing to support students' learning and well-being, especially in lower-SES families during home-based online learning (Kerr et al., 2021;Low and Mounts, 2021;Radey et al., 2021;Fosco et al., 2022;Ilari et al., 2022). Studies have found that parents encounter different challenges in trying to support student learning during the school suspension (Agaton and Cueto, 2021;Akinrinmade et al., 2021;Alshwiah, 2021;Chen C. Y. C. et al., 2022), so insights gleaned from research in this area will advance our knowledge on social stratification and equity in student learning. ...
... These findings relate to previous studies [11,12] that correlated EBF with achievements of cognitive milestones in infants [50]. Early acquisition of language, cognitive skills have a sustained impact on the later academic achievement with an enhanced enrollment of the children [51,52] and more importantly, these domains are useful indicators of overall development during the early years. Our study also suggests a link between EBF and gross motor skills for children younger than 6 months, which has not been found in other recent studies [53]. ...
... From this perspective, Slone and Shoshani (2008) analyse the resilience of Israeli children exposed political violence and psychological stress as a result of political conflict through an intervention programme in primary education, thereby reinforcing the role of the education system. Zuilkowski and Marty (2021) center their interest in how students feel safe in school in a region in northeast Nigeria experiencing protracted conflict. On the conflict in Syria, Deane (2016) also recognises that current educational policy is focused on the resettlement of refugees in host countries, where educators are equipped to identify, respond to, and transform the needs of the next 'lost generation' (in their opinion), thus trying to reduce the risk of stigma, desolation, intra-community tensions, marginalisation and even radicalisation of Syrian society. ...
... Today, efforts are made by educational stakeholders to bring about curriculum reform that advocates for a learnercentered approach to teaching in schools [38,39]. ese reforms focus on the introduction and adoption of modern innovative pedagogy, which helps students' skill development and application of critical thinking in problem-solving when it comes to CP [40]; self-directed learning [41] and working collaboratively are essential [42]. IP tends to mean improving the existing teaching and learning methods in a creative but value increasing way [43,44]. ...
... With regards to literacy, the RCT in conjunction with the difference in difference analysis showed that the ALP was beneficial to OOS children's acquisition of foundational literacy skills, including their ability to accurately identify Hausa sounds associated with individual letters, decode nonsense words and read with fluency. However, the ALP did not improve listening comprehension and reading comprehension, which suggests the need to provide systematic and continuous professional development supports for LFs so they can improve their instructional proficiency in teaching literacy as a meaning-making enterprise rather than as separate literacy skills (Lee et al., 2020). Data from the qualitative study indicated that coaches, LFs and children found the literacy curriculum and materials interesting and easy to teach and to learn but highlighted that a barrier of implementation was that some LFs experienced difficulties teaching Hausa. ...
... It has been observed that the failure by school authorities to involve teenage mothers in re-entry policy formulation in Zambia has led to gender discrimination at primary and secondary levels of education (Phiri & Machila, 2020). According to Zuilkowski et al. (2019a), few young mothers complete their schooling not minding having the legal right to attend school. Global trends, especially in the developing nations, have indicated that one of the major social problems is teenage pregnancy which has taken an endemic proportion among teenagers (Mulenga & Mukaba, 2018). ...
... The EGRA relies heavily on the subconstruct of reading fluency, measuring correct words per minute, leading practitioners and policymakers globally to utilize fluency as a "proxy for comprehension" (Dowd & Bartlett, 2019). This has led to scholarly debate about the relative importance of fluency versus other reading subconstructs and reading comprehension tasks in international reading efforts (Abadzi & Centanni, 2020;Bartlett, Dowd, & Jonason, 2015;Dowd, Bartlett, Khamis-Dakwar, & Froud, 2020;Hoffman, 2012;Zuilkowski, Piper, Kwayumba, & Dubeck, 2019). ...
... Our study's high prevalence of risky sexual behaviour is consistent with previous community-based studies conducted among adolescents and youths in both countries [7][8][9]29] and similar studies in other African countries [1,4,11,31]. The higher prevalence of risky sexual behaviour in our study may be attributed to increased trauma and economic hardships, changes in parenting styles, breakdown in the social fabric in our society and broken homes experienced by young people, which is due to civil war and lately the Ebola outbreak in these two countries [37][38][39]. ...
... to r = .83. Prior studies, using other measures of the physical home environment, attest to the same set of connections (Alkire & Foster, 2011;Zuilkowski et al., 2019). In effect, children from poor families in LMIC often face a bundling of risk conditions that can inhibit their development and/or lack many of the kinds of assets needed to promote optimal health and competence. ...