School effects on non-verbal intelligence and nutritional status in rural Zambia

Sascha Hein, Mei Tan, Jodi Reich, Philip E. Thuma, Elena L. Grigorenko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study uses hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) to examine the school factors (i.e., related to school organization and teacher and student body) associated with non-verbal intelligence (NI) and nutritional status (i.e., body mass index; BMI) of 4204 3rd to 7th graders in rural areas of Southern Province, Zambia. Results showed that 23.5% and 7.7% of the NI and BMI variance, respectively, were conditioned by differences between schools. The set of 14 school factors accounted for 58.8% and 75.9% of the between-school differences in NI and BMI, respectively. Grade-specific HLM yielded higher between-school variation of NI (41%) and BMI (14.6%) for students in grade 3 compared to grades 4 to 7. School factors showed a differential pattern of associations with NI and BMI across grades. The distance to a health post and teacher's teaching experience were the strongest predictors of NI (particularly in grades 4, 6 and 7); the presence of a preschool was linked to lower BMI in grades 4 to 6. Implications for improving access and quality of education in rural Zambia are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-37
Number of pages13
JournalLearning and Individual Differences
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016


  • Body mass index-BMI
  • Multilevel analysis
  • Non-verbal intelligence
  • School context
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Zambia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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