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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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Temperament, Approaches to Learning, and Children's School Readiness

Pelin Munis, University of Miami

Abstract: Temperament and approaches to learning have been identified as predictors of children's school readiness. However little is known about the ways in which these constructs independently or in combination affect academic outcomes in preschool children. Temperament refers to a child's characteristic style of approach and response to the environment. Although relatively stable, some components of temperament (e.g., self-regulation) may be modifiable. Approaches to learning are the behaviors that children display when engaged in new or challenging learning tasks. Approaches to learning is considered modifiable and domain-general, meaning that skills gained in this area are likely to affect development of skills in other domains such as language or social-emotional development. The purpose of the current study is to assess the relations between temperament, approaches to learning and school readiness. Understanding these relationships are important for informing interventions designed to improve readiness outcomes.

Data were collected on 274 Head Start children. Teachers assessed children's temperament during a semi-structured interview designed to identify children as undercontrolled, resilient or overcontrolled. Teacher ratings of children's approaches to learning were also collected. Concurrently, children were individually assessed on their school readiness.

Preliminary analyses using multiple regression show that: temperament predicted approaches to learning, temperament predicted school readiness and approaches to learning predicted school readiness. It may be that temperament affects children's school readiness through its influence on approaches to learning. Therefore the next step is to test this mediation model using structural equation modeling, which offers several advantages over regression including testing model fit. These data will be presented in the poster.

Preliminary analyses using multiple regression show that approaches to learning partially mediates the relationship between temperament and school readiness. Interestingly, the overcontrolled group performed the lowest on both approaches to learning and school readiness. This finding highlights the need to identify overcontrolled children, who may not be effectively engaging in their learning environment and as a consequence are missing key learning opportunities. Future directions include analyzing the data using structural equation modeling, which offers several advantages over regression including testing model fit and paths to determine which aspects of approaches to learning are most affected by temperament and how they predict to different school readiness outcomes.