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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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An Eco-Behavioral Analysis of Children's Engagement in Urban Public School Preschool Classrooms

Douglas R. Powell, Purdue University
Margaret R. Burchinal, University of North Caroline-Chapel Hill
Nancy File, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Susan Kontos

Abstract: The primary aim of this study was to identify particular classroom factors (type of activity, group settings, teacher behaviors) that co-occurred with children's engagement in public school early childhood classrooms for four-year-olds. Children (n=138, 52% boys) were observed using a time sampling method in 12 classrooms in 12 urban schools serving students from predominantly lower-income, minority families. Overall, children exhibited high levels of engagement and were actively engaged in about half of the observations. In more than half of the observations, children were in whole group settings and teachers were directing. Logistic regression analyses indicated that children were more likely to be engaged during play activities and when teachers were monitoring their behavior or providing affirmations. Children were less likely to be engaged during academic activities, when teachers were directing, and when in whole group settings. Children were less likely to be actively engaged in academic and in play activities in a whole group setting than in any other type of setting. Classroom factors associated with increased likelihood of child engagement (e.g., play) occurred considerably less often than classroom conditions that were the least likely contexts for child engagement (e.g., whole group).