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2006Research Conference | June 15–16

This conference highlighted the work of invited speakers, independent researchers who have received grant funds from the Institute of Education Sciences, and trainees supported through predoctoral training grants and postdoctoral fellowships. The presentations are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Department of Education or the Institute of Education Sciences.
Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill
400 New Jersey Avenue, N.W.
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Effectiveness of Comprehensive Professional Development for Teachers of At-Risk Preschoolers: Using Technology to Further Educational Goals Learning in Pre-K

Susan H. Landry, University of Texas Health Science Center- Houston
Jason Anthony, University of Texas Health Science Center- Houston
Paul R. Swank, University of Texas Health Science Center- Houston
Michael Assel, University of Texas Health Science Center- Houston
Susan Gunnewig, University of Texas Health Science Center- Houston

Abstract: Although research has identified the nature and components of superior prekindergarten instruction, scaling of research-based practices in early childhood settings has been difficult. For instance, scaling of research-based practices faces major challenges like disbelief that such practices can be implemented by typical teachers in typical child care settings and classrooms composed of at-risk children. In this study, four PD programs included a year-long online course, practice of learned material in one's classroom, and participation in online message boards with fellow teachers. In addition, teachers in two PD programs were provided with weekly mentoring, and teachers in two PD programs received detailed, instructionally linked feedback on children's academic progress. The online PD course typical takes teachers approximately 18 months to complete and contains didactic presentations, extensive video clips of best practices, online discussion groups, and highlights content in the major areas of early literacy and language development (e.g., development of vocabulary, letter knowledge, and phonological awareness).

The 2x2 design yielded four treatment conditions whose effects were compared to those of a business as usual control group. 110 schools were randomly assigned to an experimental condition. Results showed that while mentoring and detailed, instructionally relevant feedback on children's progress did have some positive effects on teaching quality, classroom environments, and children's achievement, the most powerful PD program included the core PD activities along with ongoing mentoring and detailed, instructionally relevant feedback on individual children's academic progress. The results of this work demonstrate that advances in technology can provide today's early childhood educators with the tools they need to help children learn the material that is necessary for successful academic careers.