Recent Highlights from Our Collection

Below are highlights from our most recent acquisitions. Research Connections scans its newest acquisitions, focusing on those from key organizations and journals, to identify resources to feature here.

Does integrating the iPad into low-income preschool classrooms improve science learning?

Digital media for low-income preschoolers' effective science learning: A study of iPad instructions with a social development approach
Lee, Lena, 01/01/2016

As digital media devices have been increasingly used in early childhood educational settings, this study examined whether the iPad with a Vygotskian social development approach--namely, More Knowledgeable Other--can be integrated into low-income preschool classrooms to improve science learning. An analysis of variance was used to examine the overall improvement and differences in improvement among English language learners, children with special needs, and children without special needs or English language learner status. Results showed that all participants improved their science learning abilities as a consequence of the iPad instruction. Among all groups, English language learner children benefited more than the other groups, but only with a game that had less verbal directions. There were no significant differences by gender. (author abstract)

How can career pathways offer an effective approach to address challenges and support early care and education professionals?

Accessing career pathways to education and training for early care and education (ECE) professionals
Limardo, Chrys, 10/01/2016
Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/ecd/elcpi_accessibility_10_28_ada.pdf

While there is increasing consensus regarding the competencies needed for ECE professionals, there continues to be a large disparity between policies set for minimum professional qualifications, wages earned, and access to higher educational attainments across early learning settings. Credential and wage disparities within the sector have contributed to a fractured workforce and as a result, have created a perception that educating children below the age of five outside of a school-based setting requires less expertise. With the mounting evidence presented by scientific research highlighting the importance of high quality educational experiences for children birth through five, these perceptions are rapidly changing, and with this change, the landscape of state and national credential requirements are evolving. The task will be to provide high quality training and educational opportunities, social and workforce supports, and compensation improvements to upskill and retain highly qualified incumbent ECE professionals and entice new skilled educators into the field. This report explores how career pathways can offer an effective approach to address some of these challenges and support the current and evolving landscape of the ECE sector and its most disadvantaged professionals. Comprehensive and flexible education and training programs can make it easier for individuals to acquire industry-recognized credentials and higher education degrees to advance on a career trajectory. Effective career pathways approaches can also better serve workers that may experience significant barriers to education and employment advancement (i.e., low-skilled adults, and adults with limited English proficiency). Expanding the implementation of career pathways in the ECE sector is examined as a strategy for elevating the workforce and assisting ECE professionals that have barriers to accessing credentials, higher education, and career advancement opportunities. The report will present major obstacles ECE professionals encounter as they move into, and through, career pathways; highlight career pathways approaches and strategies at the federal, state, and program level to provide examples of promising practices in serving the ECE workforce; and recommendations for next steps and considerations for career pathways implementation in the ECE sector. (author abstract)

What are the racial/ethnic differences in kindergartners' reading and math skills at kindergarten entry and do parents' knowledge of children's development and home-based activities mediate the relation?

Racial/ethnic differences in kindergartners' reading and math skills: Parents' knowledge of children's development and home-based activities as mediators
Sonnenschein, Susan, 01/01/2016

Despite the growing body of research on parents' beliefs and practices, relatively little is known about the relations between parents' knowledge of children's development, home-based activities, and children's early reading and math skills. This study used data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort to examine the differences in Asian, Black, Latino, and White children's early reading and math skills at kindergarten entry and whether parents' knowledge of children's development and home-based activities mediate the relation. Parents' knowledge of children's development was assessed when children were 9 months. Home-based activities, including home literacy and enrichment, were assessed when children were preschool age. Asian and White children started kindergarten with significantly higher reading and math scores than Black or Latino children. There also were significant differences across groups in the frequency of engagement in home literacy and enrichment activities. Associations between race/ethnicity and reading/math scores were mediated by parents' knowledge of children's development and home literacy activities. Discussion addresses the importance of parents' knowledge of educationally relevant activities and how to engage in such activities to foster children's reading and math skills and to close racial/ethnic gaps. Highlights - This paper examined racial/ethnic difference in children's reading and math skills in kindergarten and explores whether parents' knowledge of children's development and home-based activities mediate the relation between race/ethnicity and children's reading and math skills. - By using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study Birth Cohort, this study found that there were systematic racial/ethnic differences in parents' knowledge of children's development, home-based activities, and children's reading and math skills at the start of kindergarten. - Parents' knowledge of children's development and home-based activities were found to mediate the association between race/ethnicity and children's reading and math skills for all groups. (author abstract)

What is the relationship between the three cognitive processes that comprise executive functioning (EF)--response inhibition, working memory, and cognitive flexibility--and individual components of mathematics and literacy skills in preschool children?

Foundations of mathematics and literacy: The role of executive functioning components
Purpura, David J., 01/01/2017

The current study investigated the relations between the three cognitive processes that comprise executive functioning (EF)--response inhibition, working memory, and cognitive flexibility-- and individual components of mathematics and literacy skills in preschool children. Participants were 125 preschool children ranging in age from 3.12 to 5.26 years ([mean] = 4.17 years, SD = 0.58). Approximately 53.2% were female, and the sample was predominantly Caucasian (69.8%). Results suggest that the components of EF may be differentially related to the specific components of early mathematics and literacy. For mathematics, response inhibition was broadly related to most components. Working memory was related to more advanced mathematics skills that involve comparison or combination of numbers and quantities. Cognitive flexibility was related to more conceptual or abstract mathematics skills. For early literacy, response inhibition and cognitive flexibility were related to print knowledge, and working memory was related only to phonological awareness. None of the EF components was related to vocabulary. These findings provide initial evidence for better understanding the ways in which EF components and academic skills are related and measured. Furthermore, the findings provide a foundation for further study of the components of each domain using a broader and more diverse array of measures. (author abstract)

How do child care teachers' emotional regulation and coping strategies moderate the relationship between child care setting chaos and their responsiveness towards children?

Child-care chaos and teachers' responsiveness: The indirect associations through teachers' emotion regulation and coping
Jeon, Lieny, 12/01/2016

Teachers in early child-care settings are key contributors to children's development. However, the role of teachers' emotional abilities (i.e., emotion regulation and coping skills) and the role of teacher-perceived environmental chaos in relation to their responsiveness to children are understudied. The current study explored the direct and indirect associations between teachers' perceptions of child-care chaos and their self-reported contingent reactions towards children's negative emotions and challenging social interactions via teachers' emotional regulation and coping strategies. The sample consisted of 1129 preschool-aged classroom teachers in day care and public pre-K programs across the US. We first found that child-care chaos was directly associated with teachers' non-supportive reactions after controlling for multiple program and teacher characteristics. In addition, teachers in more chaotic child-care settings had less reappraisal and coping skills, which in turn, was associated with lower levels of positive responsiveness to children. Teachers reporting a higher degree of chaos used more suppression strategies, which in turn, was associated with teachers' non-supportive reactions and fewer expressive encouragement reactions to children's emotions. Results of this exploratory study suggest that it is important to prepare teachers to handle chaotic environments with clear guidelines and rules. In order to encourage teachers' supportive responses to children, intervention programs are needed to address teachers' coping and emotion regulation strategies in early childhood education. (author abstract)

What are the effects of language and literacy focused professional development on early educators and children?

The effects of language- and literacy-focused professional development on early educators and children: A best-evidence meta-analysis
Markussen-Brown, Justin, 01/01/2017

Professional development (PD) is increasingly used to improve early childhood educators' skills and knowledge in providing quality language and emergent literacy environments for children. However, the literature does not clearly indicate the extent to which such efforts reach their goals, or whether improvements in educator outcomes translate to learning gains for children. In the current synthesis, we conducted meta-analyses to evaluate the effects of language- and literacy-focused PD on process quality, structural quality, and educator knowledge as primary outcomes. Furthermore, we estimated effects for three child outcomes: receptive vocabulary, phonological awareness, and alphabet knowledge. PD produced a medium effect for process quality and a large effect for structural quality but no effect for educator knowledge. PD also produced a small to medium effect for phonological awareness and a small effect for alphabet knowledge, but these were not predicted by gains in educator outcomes. Although course and coaching intensity and duration were related to effect sizes, the total number of PD components was the strongest predictor of process quality. The results suggested that PD is a viable method of improving language and literacy processes and structures in preschools, but effects may need to be substantial if they are to translate into higher child outcomes. (author abstract)

What is the research evidence on the relationship of the CLASS (Classroom Assessment Scoring System) to child outcomes?

A systematic review and meta-analysis of a measure of staff/child interaction quality (the Classroom Assessment Scoring System) in early childhood education and care settings and child outcomes
Perlman, Michal, 12/30/2016

The quality of staff/child interactions as measured by the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) programs is thought to be important for children's outcomes. The CLASS is made of three domains that assess Emotional Support, Classroom Organization and Instructional Support. It is a relatively new measure that is being used increasingly for research, quality monitoring/accountability and other applied purposes. Our objective was to evaluate the association between the CLASS and child outcomes. Searches of Medline, PsycINFO, ERIC, websites of large datasets and reference sections of all retrieved articles were conducted up to July 3, 2015. Studies that measured association between the CLASS and child outcomes for preschool-aged children who attended ECEC programs were included after screening by two independent reviewers. Searches and data extraction were conducted by two independent reviewers. Thirty-five studies were systematically reviewed of which 19 provided data for meta-analyses. Most studies had moderate to high risk of bias. Of the 14 meta-analyses we conducted, associations between Classroom Organization and Pencil Tapping and between Instructional Support and SSRS Social Skills were significant with pooled correlations of .06 and .09 respectively. All associations were in the expected direction. In the systematic review, significant correlations were reported mainly from one large dataset. Substantial heterogeneity in use of the CLASS, its dimensions, child outcomes and statistical measures was identified. Greater consistency in study methodology is urgently needed. Given the multitude of factors that impact child development it is encouraging that our analyses revealed some, although small, associations between the CLASS and children's outcomes. (author abstract)

How did researchers work on developing the Examining Data Informing Teaching (EDIT), a tool to examine teachers' use of ongoing child assessment to individualize instruction?

Developing a tool to examine teachers' use of ongoing child assessment to individualize instruction
Monahan, Shannon, 11/01/2016
(OPRE Report No. 2016-103). Washington, DC: U.S. Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation. Retrieved from https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opre/40158_cpm_clin_3_report_111416final_updated_covers_b508.pdf

In 2012, the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation at the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) engaged Mathematica Policy Research and its partners to conduct a project titled "Assessing Early Childhood Teachers' Use of Child Progress Monitoring to Individualize Teaching Practices." The purpose of the project was twofold: (1) to develop a research-informed conceptual model for early childhood teachers' use of ongoing assessment to individualize instruction, and (2) to create a measure to examine this process. Prior reports describe in detail the results of a literature review, conceptual framework, and measurement plan (Akers et al. 2014; Atkins-Burnett et al. 2014). This report describes the iterative development of the Examining Data Informing Teaching (EDIT) measure. This report includes the results of a pretest study in 18 classrooms and a proposal for next steps for the EDIT. (author abstract)

To see a complete list of new research, please view Archived New Research.