Although there are many efforts underway to improve self-control among children, none focus on comprehensively educating children about the “science of self-control”—what is it? What strategies support it, and why is this knowledge important?
The Toolbox Project is driven by the idea that educating children about this topic has the potential to improve their self-control dramatically, while also having transformative educational implications. It brings together talented childhood educators and self-control experts to translate research on self-control into a school-based curriculum. The principle is this: If students can learn the skills needed to improve their self-control, they will fare dramatically better in and out of the classroom. Our project consists of three phases:
- Phase 1: Researchers and teachers co-develop a science of self-control and science of learning (i.e., control) curriculum (14 lesson plans)
- Phase 2: Pilot and refine curricula
- Phase 3: Evaluate the curricula's impact on self-control, achievement, well-being, and relationships in the context of a large-scale randomized controlled trial
We recently completed the first 2 phases of this project. Our results are enormously encouraging—students taught the self-control curriculum displayed significant increases in their knowledge of self-control principles over time compared to an equally rigorously developed control curriculum. We are now seeking to expand the final phase of this project over the next 3 years. This expansion will allow us to complete Phase 3, a rigorous evaluation of the curricula in the context of a large randomized controlled trial consisting of approximately 750 classrooms and 18,750 students.
We will deliver a protocol that explains how to partner researchers and educators to translate research into curricula, the curricula we develop, evaluation data, 2-3 journal articles, an op-ed highlighting our key findings, and lectures that summarize the project.