First approved project of 2024 will examine trajectories of academic success and well-being in childhood

A group of children running to school wearing backpacks

The first PopData project of the new year to be approved will analyse kindergarten readiness in relation to well-being and academic achievement in early adolescents in British Columbia.

Eva Oberle, Associate Professor with the Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP) in the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia, is leading the project which is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

“We will look at the association between Kindergarten readiness and grade 7 mental wellbeing and academic achievement, taking into account the role of social-emotional experiences in grade 4 as potential mediators,” says Professor Oberle. “Additionally, we will examine whether the pattern of our findings differs based on children's gender or self-identified ethnic background.”

The project will use existing linked data from the Early Development Instrument (EDI) and the Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI) collected by HELP. EDI data has been collected for over 10 years and includes measures of a child's social, emotional, cognitive, physical development and vulnerability in Kindergarten as reported by teachers. These variables will be used as predictors in the study.

The MDI is a student reported survey conducted in grade 4 and again in grade 7. Children report their thoughts, feelings and experiences in school. Data include measures of social and emotional competence, mental and physical health, and well-being, as well as the assets in their lives, including connectedness to adults and peers, nutrition, sleep experiences, school experiences and use of time out of school.

PopData will link the HELP data with neighbourhood level Socioeconomic (SES) index variables and Foundational Skills Assessment data from the BC Ministry of Education and Child Care.

“This project will seek to identify risk factors in development, and projective factors that can be modified,” continues Professor Oberle. “We aim to generate findings to inform interventions which support well-being and academic success in schools, and help us to identify subgroups of children at risk for low academic achievement and support factors to enhance their academic success.”

Findings will be presented at conferences, published in the form of peer-reviewed manuscripts and shared through HELP’s webinar program.