An Analysis of Preschool Classroom Supports on Child Language Development Public Deposited

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  • March 19, 2019
  • Berry, Sheena
    • Affiliation: School of Education, School Psychology Graduate Program
  • Studies investigating classroom structure promoting child opportunities and examining models of developmental processes within early childhood classrooms indicate that classroom environment for young children, particularly at-risk children, is a key factor in educational attainment and social skill development. In recent educational research, structural and process supports have been identified as critical components of high quality classrooms. The present study utilized data from the Even Start Classroom Literacy Interventions and Outcomes (CLIO) study (Judkins et al., 2008). This nationally randomized study on students from low-literacy, low-income families provided an opportunity for the current study to explore if structural and process supports within preschool classrooms significantly foster language growth for at-risk children, and whether child growth in social competency partially or fully explains this relationship. Prior to data analysis, exploratory factor analysis (EFA) was conducted on observational data from the CLIO study to identify categories of classroom level supports to serve as the study’s independent variables. The EFA yielded two classifications of structural supports--access to literacy materials and classroom organization--and one type of process support--teacher-child interactions and opportunities. Hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) (i.e., multi-level modeling) and ordinary least squares determined the predictive relationship of the three identified classroom supports on child language growth, as measured by students’ change in performance on oral language and syntax and grammar understanding measures. For significant associations between independent and dependent variables, a group of covariates were included in the analyses to control for potential effects that these observable variables may have on the predictive value of classroom level supports on language development. Mediation testing through use of HLM examined the extent students’ change in social competency mediated the impact of classroom structural and process supports on child language growth. Multilevel structural equation modeling was considered for models that suggested the mediation variable influencing the independent and dependent variable relationship. Findings indicated that when accounting for child and classroom level covariates, only classroom organization significantly predicted change in child oral language in preschool. Child growth in their social competency did not demonstrate partial direct and indirect effects on the relationship between classroom organization and child oral language growth. Results from the present study shed light on the intricate nature of studying early childhood settings, and yield considerations for future empirical work on what components of a classroom are critical to yield strong learners and social beings.
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Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Simeonsson, Rune
  • Yazejian, Noreen
  • Kainz, Kirsten
  • Wasik, Barbara Hanna
  • Knotek, Steven
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2015
Place of publication
  • Chapel Hill, NC
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