Deconstructing the Foundations of Learning in Early Childhood: Complementing Theory with Methodology

Kim, Helyn, Education - Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Grissmer, David, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

This dissertation presents three independent studies that are linked in their focus on exploring efforts to deconstruct the foundations of learning in early childhood. The first study evaluated the psychometric properties of the Motor Skills Rating Scale (MSRS), a teacher-reported measure of children’s classroom motor skills. A confirmatory factor analysis supported the validity of the three-factor structure, and each of the three subscales of the MSRS, Classroom Fine Motor, Shapes and Letters, and Body Awareness, was differentially associated with children’s academic and behavioral outcomes. The second study explored longitudinal and reciprocal relations among visuo-motor integration, attention, fine motor coordination, and mathematics skills in the early elementary school years, from kindergarten through second grade. Associations among constructs were intricate and dynamic in nature, with more cross-lagged effects in kindergarten that diminished over time. The third study investigated the extent to which children’s behavioral self-regulation predicts academic and relational outcomes by incorporating both variable- and person-centered approaches. Integrating both approaches offered complementary perspectives on the important‬ role that behavioral self-regulation plays in school functioning‬. Collectively, these three studies provide a multi-dimensional approach to understanding the nature and interplay among the foundational skills that support children’s learning and development in early childhood.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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