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Yiwei Qian
Journal Articles

The Role of Self-Esteem in the Academic Performance of Rural Students in China

Wenjing Yu, Yiwei Qian, Cody Abbey, Huan Wang, Scott Rozelle, Lauren Ann Stoffel, Chenxu Dai
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2022 October 15, 2022

The self-esteem of students may be significantly associated with their academic performance. However, past research in developing contexts on this issue is limited, particularly among early adolescents. Using a sample of 3101 students from rural primary and junior high schools in China, this study measured their self-esteem by the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES) and explored its association with academic performance. Our findings indicate that students in rural China had both significantly lower self-esteem and a higher prevalence of low self-esteem when compared to past studies of similarly aged students both from urban China and internationally. Furthermore, there was a strong positive correlation between a student’s self-esteem and academic performance. A one-SD increase in RSES score (indicating better self-esteem) was associated with an increase of 0.12 SD in standardized math scores (p < 0.001), and students with low self-esteem (RSES score < 25) scored lower on math tests by 0.14 SD (p < 0.001), which were robust and consistent when employing the propensity score matching method. Our study expands the growing body of empirical evidence on the link between self-esteem and academic performance among rural youth in developing countries and emphasizes the need to improve their self-esteem with the aim of helping them achieve academically.

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Journal Articles

Behavioral Strengths and Difficulties and Their Associations with Academic Performance in Math among Rural Youth in China

Wenjing Yu, Cody Abbey, Yiwei Qian, Huan Wang, Scott Rozelle, Manpreet Singh
Healthcare, 2022 August 16, 2022

Behavioral strengths and difficulties among children and adolescents may be significantly associated with their academic performance; however, the evidence on this issue for rural youth in developing contexts is limited. This study explored the prevalence and correlates of mental health from three specific dimensions—internalizing problems, externalizing problems, and prosocial behavior—measured by the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), and the association of these dimensions with academic performance in math among a sample of 1500 students in rural China. Our findings indicated that students in rural China had worse behavioral difficulties and poorer prosocial skills when compared to most past studies conducted inside and outside of China. In addition, total difficulties and prosocial scores on the SDQ were significantly associated with student math test scores, as students whose externalizing, internalizing, and prosocial scores were in the abnormal range scored lower in math by 0.35 SD, 0.23 SD, and 0.33 SD, respectively. The results add to the growing body of empirical evidence related to the links between social environment, mental health, and academic performance in developing countries, highlighting the importance of students’ mental health for their academic performance, and of understanding risk factors in the social environment among rural youth in developing countries.

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Working Papers

Parental Investment, School Choice, and the Persistent Benefits of Intervention in Early Childhood

Lei Wang, Yiwei Qian, Nele Warrinnier, Orazio Attanasio, Scott Rozelle, Sean Sylvia
2021 November 3, 2021

We present evidence from a randomized experiment testing the impacts of a six-month early childhood home-visiting program on child outcomes at school entry. Two and a half years after completion of the program, we find persistent effects on child working memory - a key skill of executive functioning that plays a central role in children's development of cognitive and socio-emotional skills. We also find that the program had persistent effects on parental time investments and preschool enrollment decisions. Children were enrolled earlier and in higher quality preschools, the latter reflecting a shift in preferences over preschool attributes toward quality. Our findings imply an important role for the availability of high-quality subsequent schooling in sustaining the impacts of early intervention programs.

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Journal Articles

Improving Learning by Improving Vision: Evidence from Two Randomized Controlled Trials of Providing Vision Care in China

Xiaochen Ma, Huan Wang, Yaojiang Shi, Sean Sylvia, Lei Wang, Yiwei Qian, Scott Rozelle
Journal of Development Effectiveness, 2021 February 26, 2021

This paper examines the external validity of health intervention by comparing the impacts of providing free eyeglasses on the educational performance of nearsighted children in two settings: rural public schools in Western China and urban private migrant schools in Eastern China. The intervention significantly improves educational outcomes by 0.14 standard deviations in math in rural public schools but not in private migrant schools. The difference in measured impacts is due in part to lower quality schooling in migrant schools in Eastern China. Our findings show that only when school is providing a quality education, health interventions might increase student learnings.

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Journal Articles

Correlates of Participation in Community-Based Interventions: Evidence from a Parenting Program in Rural China

Yiwei Qian, Yi Ming Zheng, Sarah-Eve Dill, Scott Rozelle
PLOS One, 2020 September 8, 2020
A growing body of literature has documented that community-based early childhood development (ECD) interventions can improve child developmental outcomes in vulnerable communities. One critical element of effective community-based programs is consistent program participation. However, little is known about participation in community-based ECD interventions or factors that may affect participation. This paper examines factors linked to program participation within a community-based ECD program serving 819 infants and their caregivers in 50 rural villages in northwestern China. The results find that more than half of families did not regularly attend the ECD program. Both village-level social ties within the program and proximity to the program significantly predict program participation. Increased distance from the program site is linked with decreased individual program participation, while the number of social ties is positively correlated with participation. The average program participation rates among a family’s social ties is also positively correlated with individual participation, indicating strong peer effects. Taken together, our findings suggest that attention should be given to promoting social interactions and reducing geographic barriers among households in order to raise participation in community-based ECD programs.
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Journal Articles

Effect of Chinese Eye Exercises on Change in Visual Acuity and Eyeglasses Wear among School-Aged Children in Rural China: A Propensity-Score-Matched Cohort Study

Huan Wang, Yiwei Qian, Nathan Congdon, Matthew Boswell, Scott Rozelle, Xiaochen Ma
BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies, 2020 March 13, 2020
Background Daily “eye exercises,” massaging of periocular acupuncture pressure points, have been part of China’s national vision care policy in schools for some 50 years. However, the effect of eye exercises on myopia progression and eyeglasses wear has not been definitively investigated. This study evaluates the effectiveness of eye exercises on visual acuity and the propensity of rural children to wear eyeglasses. Methods Cohort study in 252 randomly-selected rural schools with baseline in September 2012 and follow up surveys 9 and 21 months later. Outcomes were assessed using propensity-score matching (PSM), multivariate linear regression and logistic regression to adjust for differences between children performing and not performing eye exercises. Results Among 19,934 children randomly selected for screening, 2374 myopic (spherical equivalent refractive error ≤ − 0.5 diopters in either eye) children (11.9%, mean age 10.5 [Standard Error 1.08] years, 48.5% boys) had VA in either eye ≤6/12 without eyeglasses correctable to > 6/12 with eyeglasses. Among these who completed the 21-month follow up, 1217 (58.2%) children reported practicing eye exercises on school days and 874 (41.8%) did not. After propensity-score matching, 1652 (79%) children were matched: 826 (50%) in the Eye Exercises group and 826 (50%) in the No Exercise group. Performing eye exercises was not associated with change in LogMAR uncorrected visual acuity and wear of eyeglasses, using either logistic regression or PSM at 9 or 21 months. Conclusions We found no evidence for an effect of eye exercises on change in vision or eyeglasses wear.
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Journal Articles

The Effect of Providing Free Eyeglasses on Children's Mental Health Outcomes in China: A Cluster-Randomized Controlled Trial

Hongyu Guan, Huan Wang, Kang Du, Jin Zhao, Matthew Boswell, Yaojiang Shi, Yiwei Qian
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2018 December 5, 2018
Abstract: If children with common vision problems receive and use eyeglasses, their educational performance rises. Without proper treatment, visually impaired children may not achieve educational gains and could suffer from poor mental health. We use a randomized controlled trial to study the impact of an eyeglasses promotion program in rural China on the mental health of myopic primary school students. Three measures of mental health are used: learning anxiety, physical anxiety, and scores on the Mental Health Test (MHT). Our empirical analysis showed that on average, the treatment has small and insignificant for learning anxiety and MHT, and a small but significant reduction in physical anxiety. However, subgroup analysis reveals that myopic students who study more intensively see their learning anxiety and physical anxiety reduced after being provided with eyeglasses. In contrast, students with the lower study intensity suffer a rise in learning anxiety after receiving eyeglasses. A potential mechanism for the differing impacts is the increase in teasing reported among low study-intensity students that does not occur for high study-intensity students. Care should be taken to maximize the benefits and minimize the costs of in-school vision programs.
 
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