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IES Grant

Title: Development and Feasibility of the Improving Writing Resources and Interactions in Teaching Environments through Professional Development (IWRITE-PD) for Teachers of Economically Disadvantaged Children
Center: NCER Year: 2015
Principal Investigator: Gerde, Hope Awardee: Michigan State University
Program: Early Learning Programs and Policies      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (7/1/2015-6/30/2019) Award Amount: $1,493,849
Goal: Development and Innovation Award Number: R305A150210

Co-Principal Investigator: Gary Bingham (Georgia State University) and Ryan Bowles (Michigan State University)

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to develop and test a professional development program, the Improving Writing Resources and Interactions for Teaching Environments through Professional Development (IWRITE PD), to support preschool teachers' use of writing during instructional activities with the goal of improving children's writing, literacy, and oral language skills. Young children's writing skills are related to their letter knowledge, word recognition, and phonological awareness skills, and so is a potentially important focus of early instruction. However, there is great variability in children's exposure to high quality writing environments in preschool classrooms. Preschool teachers generally provide limited instruction to support young children's writing. The IWRITE PD intervention is intended to improve the quality of classroom writing environments, teachers' implementation of effective writing strategies, and lead to better writing, literacy, and oral language skills for preschoolers.

Project Activities: Key project activities include the development of an online course and coaching sessions, field tests to examine feasibility and usability of the intervention, and a pilot study to evaluate the promise of the intervention to improve teacher practices and children's literacy skills.

Products: Researchers will produce a fully developed teacher professional development intervention for preschool teachers to improve teacher practices and children's literacy skills, as well as peer-reviewed publications.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The study will take place in Head Start programs in urban areas in Georgia and Michigan.

Sample: Study participants will include Head Start teachers and a diverse group of children and families. Head Start teachers will participate in the initial field tests (N = 16, 8 from each site, Years 1-2) and the pilot study (N = 48, 12 intervention, 12 control from each site, Year 3). A sample of 480 children will participate in the pilot study.

Intervention: The fully developed intervention will include a series of online learning modules and monthly coaching sessions. The online modules will contain informational text, video exemplars, practice-based learning experiences, and progress monitoring tools. Teachers will be expected to complete one learning module each month. Teachers will receive two online, individualized coaching sessions each month. Coaches will assess teacher practices, provide feedback, and engage teachers in self-reflection about their teaching and ways to make improvements.

Research Design and Methods: The research team will develop, refine, implement, and evaluate the promise of the intervention over a four-year period. In Years 1 and 2, they will develop the online learning modules, obtain feedback from expert reviewers, and conduct a series of feasibility studies with early childhood teachers. Researchers will use data collected at each point in the iterative development process to inform revisions of the intervention components. In Year 3, researchers will conduct a pilot study to examine the promise of IWRITE PD to enhance teachers' classroom practice and children's literacy skills. The research team will randomly assign classrooms to treatment and control conditions, collect pre- and post-test data from teachers and children, and conduct classroom observations. In Year 4, researchers will conduct data analyses and make final revisions to the intervention components.

Control Condition: For the pilot study, teachers randomly assigned to the control condition will have access to business-as-usual professional development opportunities.

Key Measures: Primary measures include direct child assessments, teacher surveys, and observational tools. The Writing Resources and Interactions in Teaching Environments and the Early Language and Literacy Classroom Observation will be used to measure teachers' literacy practice. Researchers will assess child outcomes using standardized measures of writing, print concepts, letter knowledge, phonological awareness, narrative production, motor skills, and self- regulation skills . Measures include the Name Writing, Spelling, and Letter Knowledge subtests of the Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening-Kindergarten, the Preschool Word and Print Awareness Assessment, the Test of Preschool Early Literacy, the Narrative Assessment Protocol, the Motor subtest of the Early Screening Inventory-Revised, and the Head-Toes-Knees-Shoulders task.

Data Analytic Strategy: The research team will conduct descriptive analyses to examine feasibility and usability data, including coding coach and teacher data and reviewing website login tracking data to teacher usage of content in the online modules. For the pilot study, researchers will conduct analyses to evaluate the impact of the intervention on teachers' classroom practices and child outcomes. The research team will use a multilevel modeling approach to account for nesting.