The Relationship between Teacher Factors, Program Factors, and Support for Early Writing Development Among Preschool Teachers
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The current study examined preschool teachers’ environmental supports (i.e., writing materials and print exemplars present in the physical classroom) and interaction supports (i.e., modeling and scaffolding strategies during teacher-child interactions regarding writing) for children’s early writing development. Further, the goal was to determine if a relationship exists between these supports and various teacher/program factors including preschool teachers’ highest degree, years of preschool teaching experience, program type, curriculum, and teacher-child ratio. Participants included 68 lead preschool teachers from three U.S. states teaching 3-year-old to 5-year-old children. Live classroom observations were conducted for an average of 2.5 to 3.5 hours, and teacher interviews were conducted following the observations. Observational data revealed that, as hypothesized, preschool teachers provided a variety of environmental supports in their classrooms. Despite this, however, preschool teachers did not provide an adequate level of interaction supports. Additionally, none of the teacher or program factors analyzed significantly predicted the number of early writing support among the teacher sample. Contrary to my hypotheses, neither higher-level degrees nor more years of preschool teaching experience predicted higher amounts of either environmental supports or interaction supports for early writing. Supporting my hypothesis, there were no curricula or program types in particular that predicted higher amounts of either environmental supports or interaction supports for early writing. However, my hypothesis that smaller teacher-child ratios would predict higher amounts of interaction supports was not supported. These data suggest that existing college/university programs for future teachers as well as existing preschool curricula and program standards do not reflect the research that supports early writing development in the preschool classroom.
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