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ERIC Number: ED530411
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 10
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 17
A Conceptual Approach to Understanding Treatment Heterogeneity in Human Capital Interventions
Duncan, Greg J.; Vandell, Deborah Lowe
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness
Policy research on children is heavily balkanized by discipline. Economists bring strong experimental and quasi-experimental methods to their policy research, and recognize in their conception of causation that policies may have heterogeneous treatment impacts. But economic theories make few concrete predictions regarding either the nature of that heterogeneity or the processes by which the black-box policy impacts they estimate come about. Sociologists bring a sophisticated conception of the many contexts (e.g., neighborhoods, schools) in which children develop, but rarely link such conceptions to the circumstances of individual children within a given context. Developmental psychologists have strong conceptual models of how policy interventions and other environmental conditions may differentially affect children within and across developmental stages--birth to school entry, middle childhood, adolescence and early adulthood. And while they have developed some of the most rigorous and consequential child interventions (e.g., Perry Preschool, Abecedarian), some of which incorporate random-assignment evaluation designs, most of their empirical research relies on nonexperimental data and relatively weak causal empirical methods. To generate hypotheses regarding the likely impacts of education policies across and within children's developmental stages, the authors draw from the developmental psychology literature and conceptualize the importance of the "congruence" ("fit") between the developmental needs of children and youth and the design and nature of the intervention policies for understanding the nature of program treatment heterogeneity. In this view, children and youth profit from interventions to varying degrees, for two fundamental reasons. First, policies may not fit the developmental stage of the children or youth they target. They call this "stage/policy fit". Second, there is substantial variation in treatment impacts across children within a given stage. They call this "child/policy fit". The authors discuss each of these in turn and then apply them in the context of early childhood intervention programs. (Contains 3 figures.)
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Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness (SREE)