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Dormitory Management and Boarding Students in China’s Rural Elementary Schools

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China Agricultural Economic Review, Vol. 6

china agricultural economic review

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore whether an in-service life teacher training program can improve boarding students’ health, behavior, and academic performance.

Design/methodology/approach – The authors conducted a cluster-randomized controlled trial to measure the effect of life teacher training on student health, behavior, and academic performance among 839 boarding students in ten central primary boarding schools in Shaanxi. And the authors also tried to identify why or why not life teacher training works. Both descriptive and multivariate analysis are used in this paper.

Findings – The authors find significant improvements in health and behavior. Specifically, compared to boarding students in control schools, 15 percent fewer students in treatment schools reported feeling cold while sleeping at night. The results also showed that student tardiness and misbehaviors after class declined significantly by 18 and 78 percent, respectively. However, the in-service life teacher training program had no measurable impact on boarding students’ BMI-for-age Z-score, number of misbehaviors in class, and academic performance. The analysis suggests that improved communication between life teachers and students might be one mechanism behind these results.

Originality/value – This is the first empirical work which explored how to improve the welfare of boarding students via their life teachers. Because of the sudden increase in boarding students in rural China, it is almost certain that school personnel lack experience in managing boarding students. As such, one promising approach to improving student outcomes might be in-service training for life teachers.

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