Teacher-child interactions in the early years of school

Curby, Timothy W, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Rimm-Kaufman, Sara, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Richards, Herbert, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Konold, Timothy, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Hamre, Bridget, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

Classrooms are an important context for children's development. Some classrooms contribute a great deal to children's learning, while other classrooms contribute little. To understand the contribution of classrooms on children's development, it is necessary to look inside them and consider the day-to-day experiences of children. This dissertation works towards the goal of examining children's classroom experiences with three manuscripts.

Depending on their teacher, children receive different levels of support for learning by their teachers. Some teachers offer high levels of emotional support with little instructional support, while other teachers offer low levels of emotional support with much organizational support. The first manuscript examined how teacher-child interactions predicted pre-kindergarten children's outcomes. This paper used a person-centered approach to examine the effects on children's development of five profiles of teachers with different constellations of supports. Each of the five profiles showed various combinations of emotional, organizational, and instructional supports. This manuscript examined how these teacher quality profiles related to children's academic gains and social competence.

The second manuscript examined the measurement characteristics of teacher-child interactions, specifically, the extent to which pre-kindergarten teachers' interactions with students were stable during a typical day. Exploring the stability of teacher-child interactions is essential to discover whether interactions reflect contextual factors or teacher traits. This manuscript also explored whether domains of classroom interactions influence one another over the course of a typical day. In this way, we were able to empirically evaluate commonly held beliefs about one domain of interaction (e.g. managerial) setting the stage for other types of interactions (e.g. instructional).

These studies left open questions about the extent to which children benefit equally or differentially from high quality teacher-child interactions. The quality of teachers' interactions with children has been linked to children's academic development. However, in some instances, children who have had prior low achievement or other risk factors have been found to disproportionately benefit from these interactions. The third manuscript in my dissertation examined the moderating effects of teacher-child interactions on achievement trajectories for children with varying achievement levels during kindergarten and first grade.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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