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IES Grant

Title: Classroom Links to Vocabulary and Phonological Sensitivity Skills
Center: NCER Year: 2007
Principal Investigator: Powell, Douglas Awardee: Purdue University
Program: Teaching, Teachers, and the Education Workforce      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years Award Amount: $1,738,508
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R305B070605

Purpose: The press for improved early literacy outcomes has increased exponentially for preschool education programs targeted to at-risk children in the United States. Recent federal and state policies aimed at eliminating student achievement gaps in elementary schools have bolstered the expectation that a primary purpose of pre-kindergarten education is to promote the acquisition of knowledge and skills linked to later reading success. The policies are supported by a growing research literature on the nature and consequences of children's developmental trajectories that is also the basis of influential expert panel recommendations for greater attention to supports for literacy development in the early years.

In an earlier IES-supported project, this research team developed a case-based hypermedia resource with 16 cases covering topics such as reading with children, writing, letter knowledge, and conversations. Each case includes video clips of research-based practices, accompanying text that highlights key elements of the practice, and practitioner-oriented material describing research related to the case topic. The researchers also developed an individualized coaching model that allows coaches to provide support to teachers at a distance. The initial evaluation of this teacher professional development program showed promising effects on instructional practice and child outcomes. The purpose of this project is to develop and test additional case-based hypermedia modules that specifically target vocabulary development, phonological sensitivity, use of classroom materials, and literacy practices.

Project Activities: The researchers will engage in an iterative process to develop and field-test the new case-based hypermedia modules. In the final year of the project, they will conduct an initial random assignment study of the teacher professional development program including the case-based hypermedia resources and coaching.

Products: Products from this project include a complete early childhood professional development training program focusing on early literacy development, and published reports describing the initial evaluation of the program.

Structured Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to develop and test case-based hypermedia modules that specifically target vocabulary development, phonological sensitivity, use of classroom materials, and literacy practices. At the conclusion of this project, the team will have a complete early childhood professional development training program focusing on early literacy development.

Setting: The programs serve small cities, rural, and urban areas in 11 counties in Indiana.

Population: The project is being implemented with 60 teachers in Head Start classrooms. Based on previous work in these programs, it is anticipated that approximately 25 percent of children from these rural, small city, and urban programs will be English-language learners, and that more than 50 percent will be from ethnic and racial minority backgrounds.

Intervention: The research team will develop and evaluate case-based hypermedia and individualized coaching methods focused on instruction in vocabulary and phonological sensitivity. Each case includes six video clips illustrating research-based teaching practices. Coaching methods focus on the quality of teaching practices via technologically delivered critiques of teacher-submitted videotapes of instruction, and on the intensity (frequency and embeddedness) of instruction through observation and consultation with teachers in their classrooms. The hypermedia will offer two modules (10 cases) on teaching vocabulary and phonological sensitivity skills and one module (five cases) on classroom materials and literacy practices.

Research Design and Methods: After refining the intervention using an iterative process, the research team will field-test instructional materials and coaching strategies in 12 classrooms (one center). Then, they will conduct a pilot study of the intervention in 48 classrooms (28 centers), with classrooms within centers randomly assigned to participate in the intervention or control conditions.

Control Condition: The classrooms will be randomly assigned to intervention by semester (fall or spring). Classroom teachers receiving intervention in the spring semester will serve as controls in the fall.

Key Measures: The research team will collect measures at three time points on both control (semester prior to intervention, beginning, end of intervention) and intervention (pre- and post-intervention, follow-up) teachers and their 4-year-old students. Teacher measures include assessment of the classroom environment (ELLCO), and oral language and phonological awareness instruction during group time and free play. Measures of vocabulary, alphabetic understanding, and phonological awareness will be collected from children.

Data Analytic Strategy: Repeated measures analyses using a general linear mixed model will be used for analysis of intervention effects on both teaching practices and on child outcomes.

Related IES Projects: Professional Development in Early Reading (Classroom Links to Early Literacy) (R305M040167)


Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Baroody, A.E., and Diamond, K.E. (2013). Measures of Preschool Children's Interest and Engagement in Literacy Activities: Examining Gender Differences and Construct Dimensions. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 28(2): 291–301.

Diamond, K.E., and Powell, D.R. (2011). An Iterative Approach to the Development of a Professional Development Intervention for Head Start Teachers. Journal Of Early Intervention, 33(1): 75–93.

O'Leary, P.M., Cockburn, M.K., Powell, D.R., and Diamond, K.E. (2010). Head Start Teachers' Views of Phonological Awareness and Vocabulary Knowledge Instruction. Early Childhood Education Journal, 38(3): 187–195.

Powell, D. R., and Diamond, K. E. (2013). Implementation Fidelity of a Coaching-based Professional Development Program for Improving Head Start Teachers' Literacy and Language Instruction. Journal of Early Intervention, 35(2), 102–128.

** This project was submitted to and funded under Teacher Quality: Reading and Writing in FY 2007.