ZEPPELIN longitudinal study: Support from birth (Follow-up 5-8)
Background and aims
The learning sensitive period in a child’s first years of life as a primary site of education is utilized in very different degrees. One consequence of this is unequal distribution of educational opportunities. Several studies in the United States show that early support in families can contribute towards increased educational opportunities. Against this background, early support in the form of the Parents as Teachers (PAT) programme developed in the United States was implemented in several communes in the Canton of Zurich. The aim of the ZEPPELIN project is to investigate the longer-term effectiveness of PAT in families in difficult circumstances (social burdens).
In a randomized control trial (RCT) research design, the intervention group of 132 families was compared with the control group of 116 families. The intervention group received PAT support in the form of at-home support and group meetings. For the control group, the customary support for young children offered in the community was available. After the recording of baseline data at child age 3 months, characteristics of the parents, the children, and parent-child interaction as well as stress and protective factors were assessed at yearly measurement time points (at child age 12, 24, and 36 months). As planned, this experimental and longitudinal study will be continued in kindergarten and in the first 3 years of primary school.
The ZEPPELIN project opens up access to parents with great social burdens, with the majority of the parents having migration backgrounds. With its interdisciplinary orientation and methodology (data collection in collaboration with the psychology, child development, dental medicine, and economics departments at the University of Zurich), this experimental longitudinal study with measurement time points from before birth to young adulthood and low attrition is unique in Europe.
ZEPPELIN allows work on research desiderata that have been called for internationally. Sample, design, and interdisciplinary methodology result in a rich and unique body of data in Switzerland, which following the Open Access Policy of the SNSF will be made available to the public via FORS.
The research phase ZEPPELIN 0-3 was successfully completed in 2016 and demonstrated positive effects of early support. For a brief report on the latest research results, see the PDF file on the left side of this page.
New support programme in preparation of school entry: Lernort Familie 5+
The second, ongoing research phase ZEPPELIN 5-9 has two aims: (1) investigation of the longer-term effectiveness of early support, and (2) examination of the question as to whether the effects of early support can be maintained or reinforced by means of an additional family intervention when the children are kindergarten age. In order to distinguish effects of the early intervention (at age 0-3) and the new intervention (at age 5), a new kindergarten intervention group (KIG) with at-risk families was recruited (N = 90), which, in addition to the intervention group, participated in Lernort Familie 5+.
ZEPPELIN 5-9 is supported by a Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) grant to fund a research infrastructure.
Previous research phases:
Ongoing research phase:
- ZEPPELIN 5-9 (at school entry, 2017–2020)
- ZEPPELIN 12-13 (transition to lower secondary education, 2023–2025)
- ZEPPELIN 15-16 (transition to upper secondary education, 2026–2028)
- ZEPPELIN 20 (tertiary education, 2031–2032)
Research advisory board
- Prof. Dr. Ute Ziegenhain, Ulm University Medical Center
- Prof. Dr. Margrit Stamm, University of Fribourg
- Dr. Heidi Simoni, Marie Meierhofer Children’s Institute Zürich
- Prof. Dr. Ulrich Trautwein, University of Tübingen
- Prof. Dr. med. Oskar Jenni, Child Development Center, University Children’s Hospital, Zürich
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