Talking to Young Children about Poverty and Social Issues

Teachers in the Kindergarten and Primary Levels (non-LTL only) at UCLA Lab School in conjunction with UCLA researchers will be conducting a study that involves designing, implementing, and evaluating a newly developed social studies and literacy unit focused on social issues, such as poverty and inequality. Specifically, UCLA researchers will be working closely with a small group of teachers in Fall 2013 to design the curriculum, which will be implemented over the course of 5-weeks in Winter 2014. As part of the project’s aims to assess the efficacy of the curriculum, researchers will be observing the “study teachers” as they implement the curriculum in their classrooms and will conduct brief interviews with students in these classrooms before and after the curriculum has been implemented. To ensure that any observed changes in students’ responses are the direct result of the new curriculum (i.e., what they learned), researchers will also observe teacher practice and conduct interviews with students in the remaining non-LTL kindergarten and primary level classrooms (“comparison classrooms”). Students will be interviewed three times – two times in Fall 2013 and once in Spring 2014. Each interview will last between 15 – 30 minutes each. Researchers will assess students’ ability to classify objects across two dimensions, perspective-taking skills, and empathic responses during the first interview. The second and third interviews will be identical and ask questions related to the content of the new curriculum (e.g., what it means to be rich or poor, how wealth and poverty are distributed in the U.S., how someone becomes poor, and ways to help the poor). All questions will be asked in a private setting (CONNECT research office) to maintain confidentiality. Collecting this information will allow us to determine how young children think about social issues such as poverty and how school curricula affect that understanding. As parents who have already signed the UCLA Lab School blanket consent form, you are not required to sign any additional forms at this time. Additionally, if in the blanket consent form parents gave us permission to do so, children may be videotaped while they are engaged in lessons. Any questions about this study should be directed to Norma Silva at the Lab School (310-825-1557 or ) or to Prof. Rashmita Mistry (310-825-6569 or