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IES Grant

Title: Training Teachers to Teach Vocabulary (T3V): A Professional Development Intervention for Toddler and Preschool Teachers Serving Children at Risk for Communication Difficulties
Center: NCSER Year: 2018
Principal Investigator: Hindman, Annemarie Awardee: Temple University
Program: Early Intervention and Early Learning in Special Education      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (07/01/2018-06/30/2022) Award Amount: $1,400,000
Goal: Development and Innovation Award Number: R324A180192
Description:

Co-Principal Investigators: Wasik, Barbara A.; Snyder, Patricia

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to develop Training Teachers to Teach Vocabulary (T3V), a professional development (PD) intervention to support early childhood classroom teachers in using evidence-based instructional practices to improve vocabulary knowledge among young children at risk for communication difficulties (CD). Vocabulary development is a key predictor of children's success in learning to read and in school more generally. Although research has identified effective teaching practices that educators can use to support vocabulary development for children at risk for CD, many teachers lack the knowledge and skills to implement these teaching practices. To address this research-to-practice gap, the current project will develop an intervention that trains teachers to implement vocabulary instruction within multi-tiered systems of support and is intended to improve the vocabulary development of young children at risk for CD.

Project Activities: In Year 1, the research team will develop and revise the initial version of T3V based on feedback from an advisory board, field testing with early childhood classroom teachers, and suggestions from consultants. A series of feasibility studies will be conducted in Years 2 and 3 to determine whether the intervention can be implemented with fidelity and whether teachers and children demonstrate changes in target outcomes. In Year 4, a small randomized controlled trial will be conducted to test the promise of T3V for changing teacher knowledge and practice around vocabulary instruction, as well as the vocabulary skills of children at risk for CD.

Products: This project will result in a fully developed professional development intervention to support toddler and preschool teachers in using evidence-based vocabulary instructional practices for young children at risk for CD. Products will also include peer-reviewed publications and presentations.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The research will take place in Early Head Start and Head Start centers in urban areas in Maryland.

Sample: In Years 1-3, approximately 24 teachers and 32 children (ages 24-66 months) at risk for CD will participate in the iterative development process. For the Year 4 pilot study, 40 teachers (including both Early Head Start and Head Start teaching teams) and 60 children at risk for CD will participate.

Intervention: T3V will combine two effective PD models: Exceptional Coaching for Early Language and Literacy (ExCELL), which is designed to improve teachers' Tier 1 vocabulary instruction, and practice-based coaching, which is designed to improve teaching practices at Tiers 2 and 3 for children with or at risk for disabilities. The PD will be delivered to teachers over the course of the year and will include group workshops that explain vocabulary teaching practices and individualized coaching to help teachers use the practices in their classrooms. T3V will also provide lesson guides that explicitly show how to use the teaching practices in daily classroom activities and an online child progress monitoring tool that allows teachers to assess vocabulary learning among children at risk for CD in order to differentiate instruction. Finally, T3V will include tools for training coaches.

Research Design and Methods: Year 1 will involve the initial development and revision of T3V. Specifically, the research team will develop first drafts of the PD components, solicit feedback from the advisory board (comprised of expert teachers and education coordinators), and revise the PD based on feedback. The research team will then conduct two rounds of field testing with teachers and gather data on what works and what could be improved to inform revisions. Expert consultants (researchers with expertise in early language intervention) will review the revised PD and provide feedback on the content, usability, feasibility, and quality of all components. This feedback will guide a final revision of the components before Year 2. In Years 2 and 3, feasibility studies will be conducted to determine whether T3V can be implemented with fidelity and to determine whether participating teachers and children demonstrate changes in target outcomes. In Year 4, a small randomized controlled trial will be conducted to test the promise of T3V for changing teacher knowledge and practice around vocabulary instruction, as well as the vocabulary skills of children at risk for CD. One classroom in each center will be randomly selected and matched with another classroom in the sample (in another center) led by teachers with similar levels of education and experience. One classroom per pair will be randomly assigned to the intervention or control condition. Outcome data will be collected at pre-test and post-test, and fidelity data will be collected throughout the year. Data will be analyzed to determine the promise of T3V for improving teacher and child outcomes and to explore whether intervention effects are equivalent across Early Head Start and Head Start.

Control Condition: For the Year 4 pilot study, teachers in the control group will receive their program's typical PD and provide business-as-usual instruction to the children.

Key Measures: To screen for eligibility and identify children at risk for CD, the research team will use the Preschool Language Scales-5 to assess children's oral language skills and the Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children-II (with children in Head Start only) to assess cognition. Child outcome measures will include the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-IV to measure receptive vocabulary, the Expressive One-Word Picture Vocabulary Test-4 to measure expressive vocabulary, the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventories to assess parent- and teacher-reported vocabulary, and progress monitoring measures to assess children's knowledge of taught words. Teacher outcomes of knowledge of instructional practices and their readiness for change will be assessed using measures developed for this project. Additionally, teachers' instructional quality will be assessed using the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS)-PreK Instructional Support domain in Head Start classrooms and the CLASS-Toddler Engaged Support for Learning domain in Early Head Start classrooms. Fidelity of teaching practices and fidelity of coaching will be assessed using researcher-developed measures.

Data Analytic Strategy: Data from the initial development activities will be analyzed descriptively to inform revisions to the intervention. Data from the feasibility studies will also be analyzed descriptively to explore whether there are changes in fidelity over time. In addition, the research team will compare pre- and post-test scores on outcome measures using t-tests to determine the significance of any gains. Data from the pilot study will be analyzed using multiple regressions to determine the impacts of T3V on teacher and child outcomes. Differences in outcomes for Early Head Start versus Head Start classrooms will also be explored by including interactions in the regression models.


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