Does Professional Development of Preschool Teachers Improve Child Socio-Emotional Outcomes?

Jensen, B.
Jensen, P.
IZA Discussion Paper No. 8957. Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).


The overall purpose of this study is to investigate whether socio-emotional skills of socially disadvantaged children can be improved through professional development (the VIDA intervention) of preschool teachers in preschool. The VIDA intervention (knowledge-based efforts for socially disadvantaged children in daycare) is a two-year training programme for preschool teachers. The objective of the intervention is to provide the individual child with learning opportunities in a preschool setting that suit and develop the child's abilities. The intervention focuses on stimulating children's language and social skills as well as their logical understanding.



Overall the study indicates that it is possible to improve children's socio-emotional skills through an intervention focused on professional development of preschool teachers. However, the intervention is not particularly effective as a special way to target socially disadvantaged children; at least not in a universal daycare system. Moreover, the results suggest that pedagogical changes in preschool require a certain stability of the staff.

The study shows that professional development (the VIDA intervention) of preschool teachers has positive effects on development and behaviour among children aged 3-5 years. The intervention significantly improves children’s emotional development and reduces emotional and behavioural problems among children. However, the results also show that the intervention does not have greater effects for socially disadvantaged children than for their peers. Children of highly educated mothers had significantly higher SDQ scores than children of low educated mothers. Family income and ethnicity do not have an impact on the effects of the intervention. The results show that some types of preschools prevent positive effects from the intervention, e.g. the intervention is less effective in preschools with a high share of socially disadvantaged children and in preschools with a high turnover rate of staff.


The design of the study included RCT (Randomized Controlled Trial); i.e. a total of 58 preschools were randomly assigned to either receive or not receive the VIDA intervention. A total of 29 preschools were randomly selected as the intervention group, and 29 preschools were selected as the control group. On average, 12 children from each preschool were assessed by preschool teachers using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) before and after the intervention in 2010 and 2012. The SDQ contained 25 questions and surveyed the strengths and weaknesses of the children's socio-emotional development. The SDQ contains five subscales: (1) emotional symptoms, (2) conduct problems, (3) hyperactivity, (4) peer relationship problems and (5) prosocial behaviour. A total of 686 children were assessed, 369 of whom were in the intervention group and 290 of whom were in the control group. Background information was collected on parents, children and preschools as well as on the parents' level of education and turnover rate of the staff.



Jensen, B., Jensen, P. & Rasmussen A.W. (2015). Does Professional Development of Preschool Teachers Improve Child Socio-Emotional Outcomes? IZA Discussion Paper No. 8957. Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

Financed by

The Danish Ministry of Children, Gender Equality, Integration and Social Affairs and the Centre for Strategic Research in Education (CSER), Aarhus University.