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IES Grant

Title: Student Learning as a Function of Exposure to Teachers' Use of Cognitive Processing Language During Instruction
Center: NCER Year: 2017
Principal Investigator: Coffman, Jennifer Awardee: University of North Carolina, Greensboro
Program: Teaching, Teachers, and the Education Workforce      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (07/01/2017 – 06/30/2021) Award Amount: $1,399,998
Type: Exploration Award Number: R305A170637

Previous Award Number: R305A170169
Previous Awardee: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Co-Principal Investigators: Peter A. Ornstein and Patrick J. Curran

Purpose: Cognitive Processing Language (CPL) is rich in references to metacognition, cognitive processes, and requests for remembering, and is important for the development of memory strategies and later study skills as well as for the acquisition of knowledge in specific content domains, including mathematics. More needs to be understood regarding the characteristics of teachers who use high levels of CPL in their instruction or who exhibit greater readiness to incorporate higher levels of CPL when they are made aware of the merits of this style of instruction. Similarly, more needs to be understood about the contribution of student basic skills and home environment on the impact of CPL on their learning outcomes. In addition, it is important to determine the extent to which the timing and duration of exposure to CPL is important for long-lasting student gains in cognitive skills and academic achievement. The current study is designed to explore these issues. The results of this work will lead to the development of an intervention intended to impact children's success in school.

Project Activities: Researchers will follow two cohorts of 100 children in North Carolina longitudinally from Kindergarten through the beginning of Grade 2. Children will be assessed with a battery of cognitive and academic measures. Researchers will observe instruction in language arts and mathematics, interview teachers, and measure aspects of home environments. Growth models will be used to estimate trajectories within and across grades, and will permit the testing of higher order interactions to assess moderation.

Products: Researchers will produce preliminary evidence of potentially promising practices around teachers' use of CPL and peer-reviewed publications.

Structured Abstract

Setting: Participating schools are located in North Carolina.

Sample: In Year 1, researchers will recruit the initial longitudinal sample of 100 students across 10 Kindergarten teachers. In Year 2, researchers will recruit a second longitudinal sample of 100 students across 10 Kindergarten teachers. For both cohorts (200 students in total), the student participants will be followed across the Kindergarten and Grade 1 years to a single time point in Grade 2.

Intervention: The malleable factors that researchers will explore are teacher references to metacognition, cognitive processes, and remembering, or Cognitive Processing Language (CPL). Understanding of these factors could lead to the development of an intervention.

Research Design and Methods: For both cohorts, student cognitive performance will be assessed 7 times: three times in Kindergarten (Fall, Winter, and Spring, Times 1-2-3), Grade 1 (Fall, Winter, and Spring, Times 4-5–6) and once in the fall of Grade 2 (Time 7). In addition, comprehensive observations of the children's home and classroom environments will be made during the first three years of the study and in-depth interviews will be conducted with the teachers.

Control Condition: Due to the exploratory nature of the research design, there is no control condition.

Key Measures: Measures of student memory capacity include Digit Span, NIH Toolbox List Working Memory Task, Object Memory Task, Free Recall with Organizational Training Task, and Metamemory Scale. Measures of student basic skills include NIH Toolbox tests (Picture Vocabulary Test, Oral Reading Recognition Test, Dimension Change Card Sort Test, Flanker Inhibitory Control and Attention Task), and the Head-Toes-Knees-Shoulders Task. Measures of student academic skills include Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement II (WJ-IV), Basic Math Problem Solving Strategy Assessment, Mathematics Reasoning Inventory, Study Skills Task, and District-based assessments. Home environment measures include Mother-Child Reminiscing Task, Caregiver-Child Reminiscence Scale, Home Literacy Environment Questionnaire, Parent Mathematics Questionnaire, and Home Activity Questionnaire. Teaching practice will be measured using an observational rubric for teacher Cognitive Processing Language, the CLASS Observations, and teacher interviews and surveys.

Data Analytic Strategy: Researchers will use a series of hierarchical linear models (HLMs) for continuous outcomes and hierarchical nonlinear models (HNLMs) for discretely scaled outcomes to simultaneously examine the three-level structure of time nested within children, and children nested within classrooms. Level-1 variables include repeated measurements of children's memory and academic skills over time; level-2 variables allow prediction of the variability of children's developmental trajectories from child- home- and teacher-level factors; and level-3 variables allow examination of the additional influence of the classroom context on these developing skills.