Examining the Effects of a Two-Generation Education Intervention on Children's Developmental Outcomes and Family Processes Using Diverse Methodological Approaches

Project: Research project

Project Details


In the United States, the academic achievement gap between children from high- and low-income families is already apparent when children begin formal schooling, and gaps continue to persist over time. Many programs designed to address the achievement gap focus on school-based interventions, but children spend most of their waking hours at home. What is missing from the current programming and research is a holistic focus on the family, particularly on parents’ education – a significant source of influence on children’s development. A new model, called two-generation education programming, explicitly offers high-quality and equally intense interventions simultaneously to low-income parents and children from the same family. Guided by a multi-theoretical framework, the goal of the two-year proposed fellowship is to investigate (a) the effects of an experimental two-generation education program on children’s academic and behavioral outcomes and (b) if any impacts are mediated by family processes. Potential family processes include parents’ efforts to promote the educational advancement of their children in addition to navigating the resources and demands of parenthood. Data come from the NU2Gen Study, an evaluation of a novel two-generation education program for low-income families called CareerAdvance. The NU2Gen Study not only offers an unprecedented opportunity to test the causal impacts of parents’ education on children and families; it also provides diverse and innovative measurement of possible underlying mechanisms that might explain positive or negative outcomes. Aim 1 tests the direct and indirect effects of increased parental education on family and child outcomes by conducting causal and pathway analyses on parent survey and child school administrative data (N = 478). Aim 2 will examine whether the two-generation program strengthens parents’ promotion of educational success in the home (e.g., verbal environment) by utilizing data science and machine learning methodology to convert parents’ audio recordings (n = 40) of utterances (~1,000 words per hour) over 16 hours to transcripts for text analysis. Aim 3 will further investigate changes in families’ resources and demands (e.g., work-school-family balance) due to increased parental education through qualitative analysis of 39 focus group with parents (n = 141). Collectively, these studies provide insight into the complex lives of low-income families as well as the effectiveness of policies designed to improve parents and children's education simultaneously. These aims will be accomplished with a rigorous training plan at the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University, an interdisciplinary social science and public policy research center, emphasizing program evaluation and social policy (sponsor Chase-Lansdale), data science and text mining techniques (co-sponsor Miratrix), and qualitative analytic approaches (co-sponsor Burton). Completing the proposed research and training will be the first step in the PI’s career plan to conduct policy-relevant, interdisciplinary research on the impact of socioeconomic contexts on children, parents, and families using a variety of advanced methods.
Effective start/end date2/28/222/27/23


  • National Institutes of Health (NOT SPECIFIED)


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