Developing Culturally-Relevant Measures of Early Childhood Educational Quality in sub-Saharan Africa
Sharon Wolf

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of Pennsylvania

Primary Discipline

Early Childhood Education
Early childhood education (ECE) programs are expanding rapidly across sub-Saharan Africa, the global region with the largest number of children living in extreme poverty. But the quality of these programs, and their effectiveness when implemented at scale, remains unclear. Defining quality is not simple, as learning environments are shaped by cultural values and societal socio-demographics. This study will broaden conceptualizations and metrics of classroom quality by examining if and how African educators foster � childrenâ��s development in ways that are culturally-adaptive but not included in current definitions of quality. The proposal uses mixed methods by: (1) examining what early childhood educators in three African countries (Ghana, Cote dâ��Ivoire, Tanzania) think are the key elements of ECE quality(interviews and focus groups), (2) creating a supplemental classroom observation tool based on the commonalities, and(3) applying the tool to an existing dataset of videos of Ghanaian ECE classrooms linked with child assessment data� over one school-year. The videos are already coded with an existing observation tool, allowing for an examination of the� new toolâ��s additional (or lack of) predictive power in explaining child outcomes. Results will expand current conceptualizations of quality and inform teacher professional development programs in the region and globally.
About Sharon Wolf
Sharon Wolf is an Assistant Professor in Human Development and Quantitative Methods at the University of Pennsylvania?s Graduate School of Education. Trained as an applied developmental psychologist, she studies how young children?s social environments shape their development, and how early childhood educational interventions can promote development and reduce inequalities. Prior to joining the faculty at Penn, Sharon was a postdoctoral research scientist at the Global TIES for Children research center at New York University and a National Poverty Fellow with the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she was in residence at the US Department of Health and Human Services. Sharon is the recipient of the Society for Educational Effectiveness (SREE) Early Career Award, the Jacobs Foundation Early Career Research Fellowship, and the AERA-SRCD Early Career Fellow in Early Childhood Education and Development. She received her Ph.D. in 2014 in Applied Psychology with a concentration in Quantitative Analysis from New York University.

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