Effectiveness of a Danish early year preschool program: A randomized trial.

Jensen, B.
Holm, A.
Bremberg, S.
International Journal of Educational Research, 62, 115-128.


The purpose of this study is to determine the effects of the "Action Competences in Social Pedagogical Work with Socially Endangered Children and Youth" methodology (the ASP programme). The ASP programme is intended to increase socio-emotional well-being and socio-emotional competences for children in general and for children specifically from socially endangered families.


Results of the randomized controlled trial show that the children who were exposed to the intervention showed fewer emotional symptoms, fewer behavioural problems and less hyperactivity and were more attentive than the control group. On the other hand, the intervention group's relationship with their peers had worsened, and so had their prosocial behaviour compared to the control group. The effects are greater for children of well educated mothers compared to mothers who are low-skilled. This indicates that the intervention has a tendency to increase socio-economic differences, and this is the opposite of its purpose. All the effect sizes found are small, which may be because the staff found it difficult to assess the individual child in a reliable way. This can also be due to the fact that the intervention was not implemented in accordance with the intentions; for example, the daycare centres in the study spent less time than recommended on reflecting on practice.


The effects of ASP on the development of kindergarten children were measured by a randomized controlled trial in Denmark from September 2006 to May 2008. The study was carried out in two Danish municipalities with a total of 237 daycare centres (kindergartens). On average, the daycare centres had about 50 children and 10 employees; both qualified early childhood educators and childcare assistants. The daycare centres were divided into three groups on the basis of the parents' level of education, whether the parents were receiving welfare benefits, and their labour market association. From each group, a total of 58 daycare centres were selected randomly. Half of the selected daycare centres functioned as the intervention group, whereas the remaining 29 daycare centres functioned as the control group. The data collection was carried out at three different stages: before, during and at the end of the intervention. The effects of the programme were assessed using the Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). The children were assessed on their emotional, behavioural and social skills on the basis of the frequency of emotional symptoms, behavioural problems, hyperactivity, friendship problems and prosocial behaviour. The analysis analyses the five dimensions separately. The study uses two statistical models in the data analysis: a non-parametric growth curve model and a difference-in-difference model.


Jensen, B., Holm, A. & Bremberg, S. (2013). Effectiveness of a Danish early year preschool program: A randomized trial. International Journal of Educational Research, 62, 115-128.

Financed by

The Strategic Program for Welfare Research, TrygFonden (Denmark)