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National Center for Research
on Early Childhood Education
Professional Development Study
The research reported here was supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department
of Education, through Grant R305A060021 to the University of Virginia. The opinions expressed are
those of the authors and do not represent views of the U.S. Department of Education.
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A Course on Supporting Early
Language and Literacy Development
through Effective Teacher-Child
Interactions:
Effects on Teacher Beliefs, Knowledge and
Practice
Bridget K. Hamre1
Robert C. Pianta1
Margaret Burchinal2
Jason T. Downer1
1 University of Virginia
2 University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
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Collaborators
• UVA
– Robert Pianta
– Bridget Hamre
– Jason Downer
• UNC-Chapel Hill
– Peg Burchinal
– Donna Bryant
• UNC-Greensboro
– Karen LaParo
– Catherine Scott-Little
• UCLA
– Carollee Howes
• NCRECE Course
Staff
– Sarah Hadden
– Allison Leach
And many, many others at UVA and project sites!
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Background
• Poor children continue to enter kindergarten far behind
their peers in social competence and literacy and
language development
• This disparity exists despite high enrollments in child
care, Head Start, and pre-k
• The mediocre quality of teacher-child interactions are
one reason for these gaps in children’s school readiness
(e.g. Mashburn et al., 2008)
• Modest gains in teacher-child interactions may produce
meaningful skill gains in children (Burchinal et al, in press)
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Professional Development Approaches
• There is a need for targeted and effective professional development
opportunities for teachers
• Recent RCT’s of professional development programs have
demonstrated effects on teacher-child interactions and child
outcomes (Bierman et al., 2008; Pianta et al., 2008; Raver et al., 2008)
• Most of these interventions involve curricula and/or intensive
coaching
• Less evidence regarding coursework (see Dickinson & Caswell, 2007 and
Neuman & Cunningham, 2009 for exceptions)
• Coursework may be easier to replicate and integrate into existing
systems of in-service and pre-service training and is less expensive
than coaching
• But can coursework alone change practice?
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NCRECE professional
development approach
NCRECE will offer two types of supports to
teachers:
In-service course
on effective support
of language/literacy
development
In-service consultation
using MyTeachingPartner
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NCRECE sample
Course
No Course
Consultation
No Consultation
Full Implementation
(n=80)
Course Only
(n=80)
Consult Only
(n=80)
Full Control
(n=80)
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Theory of Change
Professional
Development
Teacher Beliefs,
Knowledge and
Skills
Effective TeacherChild Interactions
•Beliefs
•Knowledge
•Skills in Detection
NCRECE
Course
Children’s Literacy
and Language
Development
•Beliefs
•Knowledge
Classroom
Practice
Delivery of
Effective
Interactions
During Literacy
and Language
Activities
•Emotional Support
•Classroom Organization
•Instructional Supports
•Literacy and Language
Supports
Child
Outcomes
Children’s
Literacy and
Language
Development
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Research Questions
• Do teachers who participate in the course (compared to
a randomized control group) display:
a)
b)
c)
d)
e)
f)
Stronger beliefs emphasizing the central role of the teacher in
facilitating children’s development of social, literacy, and language
skills
Stronger beliefs about the importance of teaching early literacy and
language skills
Greater knowledge of effective teacher-child interactions
Greater knowledge of the major domains of literacy and language
development
Greater skills in detecting effective interactions in video
Use of more effective teacher-child interactions in observed practice
• Is the course more effective for some teachers
than others?
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Course Overview
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Course Objectives
• Describe how teacher-child interactions in early
education settings promote academic and social
development and learning
• Identify the importance of being intentional
(having a goal) when interacting with children
• Describe elements of effective teaching as
described by the Classroom Assessment
Scoring System (CLASS)
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Course Objectives Continued
• Observe own and others instructional and social
interactions with children using the CLASS
framework
• Describe how to implement language and
literacy curricula through effective teacher-child
interactions
• Identify & implement methods to build supportive
teacher-child relationships (Banking Time)
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Course Delivery
• Course developed by NCRECE (PowerPoint, instructor
manual, videos, etc)
• Course provided to in-service teachers in:
– New York (NY), Chicago (IL), Stockton (CA), Dayton (OH),
Hartford (CT), Charlotte (NC), Memphis (TN), Providence (RI),
Columbus (OH)
• Instructors all trained by UVA staff to deliver NCRECE
course
• Weekly support provided to instructors to ensure the
course was as similar as possible across sites
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Course Details
• 14-weeks in most sites (3 hours a week)
• Teachers in most locations received college
credit
• Offered through partnerships with other colleges
or universities
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Sample
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Teacher Demographics
Course Condition
N
Mean
Percent (SD)
Control Condition
Mean
N Percent (SD)
Teach in Head Start Program
84
59%
104
64%
Teach in a Public School
Building
46
32%
56
34%
Associate’s Degree of Less
56
41%
60
36%
Bachelor’s Degree
62
45%
76
46%
Master’s Degree or higher
19
14%
29
18%
Teacher Education
Years of Experience: Pre
Kindergarten
143
10.82
(7.66) 165
11.14
(8.08)
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Random Assignment
• Teachers were randomly assigned at the site
level to course or control group
• Final sample:
– 168 Control
– 143 Course
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Measures
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Teacher Beliefs
• Beliefs about Intentional Teaching
– 11 items; teachers rate agreement with statements about intentional teaching
(Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree)
– Sample Items: Preschool children are too young to benefit from explicit
instruction in early literacy; Preschoolers learn the most from centers when
teachers let them explore on their own.
– Alpha = .63
• Beliefs about Importance of Literacy and
Language Skills
– 12 items; teachers rate how important 6 domains of language and literacy skills
are for entering kindergartners (Not Important, A Little Important, Pretty Important, Essential)
– Sample Items: Blend syllables into words; maintain conversational topic through
2 or more turns; use adjectives to modify nouns in conversations
– Alpha = .87
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Teacher Knowledge
• Teacher Knowledge of Effective Interactions
– 15 multiple choice items assessing knowledge about effective
interactions and content knowledge in literacy and language
– Sample Item: The teacher has difficulty getting her students to do what she wants at
circle time. Her children tend to be highly active, don’t consistently listen to the lesson, and
frequently interrupt. Which of the following would most effectively help her improve the
children’s behavior?
a. ignore all misbehavior to prevent reinforcing the wrong thing
b. restate classroom expectations for circle time before beginning the activity
c. redirect children when they move, make comments, or fidget
d. post clear and positively stated classroom rules
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Teacher Knowledge
• Teacher Knowledge of Language and Literacy
Domains
– 12 items in which teachers match child skill to broad domain of
literacy and language development
– Sample Items: Identify all the letters of the alphabet (Alphabet
Knowledge); Retell a fictional story using newly-learned
vocabulary (Narrative)
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Teacher Skill in Detection
• Video Assessment of Interactions and Learning
(VAIL)
– Watch 2 short videos
– Sample question: Name up to 5 strategies the teacher is using to
engage the students in the lesson and hold their attention. For
each strategy list a specific behavioral example of the strategy
from the clip.
– Responses coded for accuracy in alignment with CLASS and the
breadth (number of different elements of a CLASS dimension
which were correctly identified)
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Teacher Practice
• Classroom Assessment Scoring System
(CLASS: Pianta, LaParo, & Hamre, 2008)
• Emotional Support – Positive Climate, Negative Climate, Teacher
Sensitivity
• Classroom Organization – Behavior Management, Productivity,
Instructional Learning Formats
• Instructional Support – Concept Development, Quality of
Feedback, Language Modeling
• Literacy Focus
– Each dimension scored on 1 to 7 scale from low to
high quality
– Coded from 30 minute videotapes sent in by teachers
between midterm and 2 weeks after final exam
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Results
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Teacher Beliefs about Intentional Teaching
• Teachers in the
course were
more likely to
endorse
intentional
teaching
practices
• Effect Size = .38
Level of Agreement with
Intentional Teaching Beliefs
4
3
2
1
Course
Control
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Example Items
• Preschool children are too young to benefit from explicit instruction
in early literacy
– % Strongly disagree: Course (77%) Control (63%)
• Young children learn best when teachers are actively involved in
their play
– % Strongly agree: Course (75%) Control (65%)
• Having many books available is enough to help children develop
early literacy skills
– % Strongly disagree: Course (48%) Control (32%)
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Intentional Teaching
• The course made me more aware of the fact that everything I do as
a teacher has potential to be a learning opportunity for a child or
group of children. The more your put into it, the more you and the
children will get out. I am a much more thoughtful and purposeful
teacher now thanks to the course.
• I will be more purposeful and explicit throughout the day I will focus
more on letter recognition, letter sounds and the way I tell a story will
change tremendously. I will be more interactive with the children and
develop what I have learned. I will be more intentional, purposeful,
and reflective in my interactions with the children in my care.
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Rating of Importance of Skills
• Effect Size = .68
Not Important
• Teachers in
course reported
that specific
literacy &
language skills
were more
important for
young children
Very Important
Teacher Beliefs in Importance of Literacy
and Language Skills
Course
Control
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Example Items
• % rated as essential for children entering kindergarten
– Blend syllables into words
• Course (48%) Control (30%)
– Identify the first sound in a spoken word
• Course (61%) Control (45%)
– Map spoken word to print
• Course (49%) Control (24%)
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Literacy and Language Beliefs
• I will try harder when it comes to literacy. I will point to letters,
words, title of pages. I will be more explicit when I am teaching
literacy to children.
• I have a better understanding why literacy based activities are so
important in the preschool years. I am implementing more of these
activities on a weekly basis.
• I have also realized how important language and literacy is for the
future development of my children as readers.
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Differences in Knowledge about Interactions
•
Teachers in the
course condition
scored higher on
multiple choice
items about
effective
interactions.
Effect Size = .79
90%
Percent Correct
•
80%
70%
60%
50%
Course
Control
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Example Item
For example:
–
A child in class is shy and does not talk very much. Since this child
rarely engages in conversations with either teacher or peers, one way
the teacher can facilitate his language development would be:
A.
B.
C.
D.
•
Always give each child a turn to share in circle time
Model language by describing what she is doing and what other
children are doing
Enthusiastically engage him in the lesson using a variety of materials
Ask him questions which he can answer by nodding or shaking his head
% correct: Course (67%) Control (39%)
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Differences in Knowledge
• Effect Size = .41
90%
Percent Correct
• Teachers in the
course condition
scored higher on a
task asking them to
match child skills to
domains of literacy
and language
development
80%
70%
60%
50%
Course
Control
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Example Items
• % correctly identified
– Identify the front, back, and title of book – Print Concepts
• Course (79%) Control (63%)
– Use motion words to represent actions – Vocabulary and
Linguistic Concepts
• Course (66%) Control (52%)
– Recognize letters in name – Alphabet Knowledge
• Course (78%) Control (66%)
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Teacher Skills in Detecting Effective
Interactions
• Effect Size = .59
6
VAIL: Breadth Score
• Teachers in the
course
demonstrated
better skills in
detecting
effective
interactions in
video
5
4
3
2
1
0
Course
Control
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Teacher Practice
• Teachers in the course demonstrated more
effective Emotional and Instructional Supports
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Emotional Support
ES = .13
CLASS Rating
7
6
ES = .41**
ES = .28*
5
ES = .53***
4
3
Positive Climate
Negative Climate
(reversed)
Teacher
Sensitivity
Regard for
Student
Perspectives
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Emotional Supports
• The course has changed the way I teach in the sense that it has
made me more patient and confident to interact with the children in
my classroom. Before, I used to teach and it was a task and
sometimes I would feel as if my heart was not in it anymore.
• I’ll change the ways I interact with the children, be more sensitive to
their needs, observe the children and their interactions with each
other. I’ll pay more attention to children perspectives and give them
more choices, more freedom of movement.
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Classroom Organization
CLASS Rating
7
6
ES = .12
ES = .13
ES = .32**
5
4
3
Behavior Management
Productivity
Instructional Learning
Formats
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Instructional Support
CLASS Rating
4
ES = .55***
3
ES = .55***
ES = .64***
ES = .15
2
1
Concept
Development
Quality of
Feedback
Language
Modeling
Literacy Focus
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Instructional Supports
• I will be … asking more questions and digging deeper to
get their reasoning behind their answers
• I'm going to change the way I'm reading the books,
paying more attention to new vocabulary.
• To use every minute of time to explore language. To
have language expressed and respond to at all times. I
will keep my classroom stimulated with language.
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Moderation
• No consistent evidence of moderation by
education level, experience, or classroom type
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Summary
• Teachers in course demonstrated changes in
beliefs, knowledge, skills and practices
• Effects on practice were strongest for
instructional interactions
• Course was effective across broad range of
teachers
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Limitations
• Did not test mediational model suggested in
theory of change
• Videotapes coded between midterm and 2
weeks after final provide limited ability to test
effects on practice
• How much is CLASS-specific – would we find
effects using other observational measures?
• New measures of beliefs and knowledge –
under revision
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Next Steps
• Impacts on child outcomes
• Additional benefits of 1-on-1 consultation
• Treatment on treated analyses
• Moderation of effectiveness of course by teacher
psychological characteristics
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