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The Role of Behavioral and Instructional Match in the Prediction of Early Classroom Engagement and Academic Achievement

Year: 2011
Name of Institution:
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Goal: Exploration
Principal Investigator:
Garrett-Peters, Patricia
Award Amount: $1,157,966
Award Period: 3 years
Award Number: R305A110104

Description:

Co-Principal Investigator: Lynne Vernon-Feagans

Purpose: The idea that instructional strategies should be matched to individual student skills has a long history in education. Recent research indicates that the match between child skills and teacher instruction in the early elementary grades is critical to children's reading achievement. In this project, researchers will examine teacher instructional strategies as a moderator of child grade entry skills in predicting literacy achievement at 2nd and 3rd grade. Researchers will use data from the Family Life Project (FLP), a representative sample of every baby born to mothers who resided in three poor rural counties in North Carolina over a one year period. This survey also includes an oversampling of poor African American families. The project team will examine how variations in the match between teacher instructional strategies and child grade entry skills are associated with children's engagement in the classroom and literacy achievement. Further, researchers will examine whether children's engagement in the classroom serves as a mediator of the associations between the teacher-child match (i.e., teacher instructional strategies X child grade entry skills) and children's literacy skills. Researchers will also explore whether the importance of children's engagement in the classroom for literacy achievement is similar or different across 2nd and 3rd grade. Finally, the project team will explore whether their model differs for African-American and non-African-American children.

Project Activities: This project focuses on examining whether children's entering grade level skills in learning behaviors and literacy are matched with appropriate teacher instruction and whether the degree of match is important in predicting children's literacy trajectories. Researchers will use data being collected by the FLP, including observations of teacher instructional strategies and standardized assessments of children's academic achievement. Researchers will use web-based surveys to collect new data on the content of teachers' instruction and children's learning behaviors. The project team will also conduct observations of children's engagement in the classroom setting. The team will then use a hierarchical linear modeling framework to test whether these instructional and child behaviors are related to child literacy achievement during the 2nd and 3rd grade years.

Products: Products include evidence of the relationships between teacher instructional strategies, child engagement, and child literacy achievement in the early elementary grades. Published reports of these findings will be produced.

Structured Abstract

Setting: This project will take place in 3 poor rural school districts in North Carolina.

Population: Participants in this study include 709 elementary school children currently participating in the Family Life Project (FLP), the majority of who are African American (68.5%) and living below the federal poverty threshold (94.7% of the African American children and 66.8% of the non-African American children).

Intervention: There is no intervention.

Research Design and Methods: In this study, the 709 children currently enrolled in the FLP in North Carolina will be followed for two years as they transition to second grade through the end of their third grade year. Researchers will use data being collected by the FLP, including observations of teacher instructional quality in the classroom and standardized assessments of children's academic achievement. For this study, web-based surveys will be used to collect new data on the content of teachers' instruction and children's learning behaviors. The project team will also collect observations of the children's engagement in the classroom setting. The researchers will use all of this data to explore: (1) whether teacher instructional strategies moderate the effect of child entry skills on literacy achievement; (2) whether the patterns of moderation are mediated by child engagement; (3) whether the patterns of mediated moderation vary in magnitude across time (2nd 3rd grades); and (4) whether any general patterns of mediated moderation differ by racial group.

Control Condition: There is no control condition.

Key Measures: The Reading First Code-Based Instruction Questionnaire will be used to assess code-based literacy instruction, and the Learning Behaviors Scale will be used to assess children's learning behaviors. The Classroom Observation System will be used to measure children's engagement in the classroom. The ongoing FLP project will observe teacher instructional quality using the Classroom Assessment Scoring System. It will also conduct comprehensive assessments of children's phonological skills and literacy achievement using the Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing and the Letter Word Identification, Picture Vocabulary, Word Attack, and Reading Comprehension subtests of the Woodcock Johnson-III Tests of Achievement.

Data analytic strategy: A hierarchical linear modeling framework will be used to test the moderation and mediation hypotheses posed above.