Fostering Classroom Communities: Examining an Early Childhood Dissertation

Fostering Classroom Communities: Examining an Early Childhood Dissertation

 Dissertation Title:

The development of self-control from kindergarten to fifth grade: the effects of neuropsychological functioning and adversity.

Explanation of the study:

The current study builds research and examines the extent to which neuropsychological functioning and adversity influence the development of self-control from kindergarten to the end of fifth grade. Utilizing data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort (ECLS-K), findings from the cross-sectional analysis revealed neuropsychological functioning to be significantly associated with the development of self-control, net of the presence of home, school, and environmental adversity (Gajos & Beaver, p. 1571, 2016).

Study purpose:

The purpose of the current study is twofold. First, the contemporaneous effects of neuropsychological functioning and adversity on self-control are estimated from kindergarten to the end of fifth grade. A contemporaneous analysis is utilized to uncover during which age periods neuropsychological functioning and adversity have the most influence on the development of self-control. Second, the influence of neuropsychological functioning and adversity measured during kindergarten are assessed on the development of self-control throughout early childhood (Gajos & Beaver, p. 1571, 2016).

Methodology:

Data for this study were drawn from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998–1999 (ECLS-K). The 1998–1999 kindergarten cohort is a nationally representative sample of children who were followed from kindergarten to the eighth grade. The ECLS-K employed a multistage probability sampling design, which sampled schools from various geographical locations. Additionally, both private and public schools were included in the sample (Tourangeau et al., 2001 as cited by Gajos & Beaver, p. 1573, 2016).

The ECLS-K employed parent and teacher instruments of the Social Rating Scale (SRS), which asked respondents to report on the child’s social skills and behaviours. The SRS was developed to assess behaviour functionality during childhood (Gresham & Elliott, 1990), and has been widely used in previous research (Hair, Halle, Terry-Humen, Lavelle, & Calkins, 2006; Jyoti, Frongillo, & Jones, 2005; Vaughn, DeLisi, Beaver, & Wright, 2009). Although both parent and teacher SRS instruments were administered in the ECLS-K, the current study only utilized the teacher instrument because it has been shown to be highly reliable (Tourangeau et al., 2001) as cited by Gajos & Beaver, p. 1574, 2016).

Among the items included in the teacher SRS questionnaire was a measure of self-control. Teachers were asked to rate individual students on how often they demonstrated self-control, through the use of a frequency scale that included four items. Together, these items indicated the child’s overall ability to control their behaviour through respecting the property rights of others, the ability to control their temper, accepting peer ideas, and responding appropriately to peer pressure. Higher scores on the self-control scale indicated greater levels of self-control. The reliability of the teacher SRS scale for self-control is high, with a split half reliability of .79 and .80 for the fall and spring of the kindergarten year, respectively (Tourangeau et al., 2001). Data on the students’ levels of self-control were available for each wave in the current study (Gajos & Beaver, p. 1574, 2016).

Population/participants/data sources:

Data for this study were drawn from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998–1999 (ECLS-K). The current study utilizes data from waves 1–6; however, wave 3 was excluded because a limited number of children were sampled during this wave. The cross-sectional sample included 13,400 children at wave 2, 13,292 children at wave 4, 9079 children at wave 5, and 8543 children at wave 6. The longitudinal sample included 7496 children (Gajos & Beaver, p. 1573, 2016).

Conclusions:

The influence of neuropsychological functioning and various types of adversity on the development of self-control were examined at waves 2, 4, 5, and 6. During wave 2, when children were approximately between the ages of five and six, neuropsychological functioning was found to be significantly associated with the development of self-control (p < .01), where higher scores on neuropsychological functioning indicated more self-control. Additionally, home adversity, school adversity, and gender (p < .01) were also significantly associated with the development of self-control (Gajos & Beaver, p. 1576, 2016).

All of the significant associations between the variables in the model and self-control became attenuated once prior self-control was introduced in Model 2, where prior self-control emerged as the strongest predictor of the development of self-control at wave 5 (β = .35; p < .01). Analogous results were introduced at wave 6, as prior self-control continued to have the strongest association with the development of self-control, once introduced into the model (β = .28; p < .01) (Gajos & Beaver, p. 1576, 2016).

Three resources used by the author:

Beaver, K. M., & Wright, J. P. (2005). Evaluating the effects of birth complications on low self-control in a sample of twins. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 49, 450–471.

Camp, B. W., Blom, G. E., Hebert, F., & van Doorninck, W. J. (1977). ‘Think aloud’: A program for developing self-control in young aggressive boys. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 5, 157–169.

Tourangeau, K., Burke, J., Le, T., Wan, S., Weant, M., Brown, E.,…Walston, J. (2001). ECLS-K base-year public-use data files and electronic codebook: User’s manual (NCES 2001–029). US Department of Education. National Center for Education Statistics. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office.

How the information gleaned from this dissertation may further my work related to fostering supportive learning environments through positive classroom cultures and classroom communities:

My proposed work is to research how adversity affects student achievement.  Students of low socioeconomic status have several hurdles they must overcome.  These students face issues at home and at school.  Von Stumm (2017) stated “Children from low SES families performed worse in the early years of school than children from high SES homes, and their disadvantage amplified over the course of compulsory education” (p. 61). She continued to state that “Children from low SES homes attained on average half a grade level less than children from higher status families at age 16 when compulsory schooling ends” (Von Stumm, 2017, 61).

My study is to understand if children of color, who face adversity can show achievement from a one-size fits all school based intervention program; through proper teaching and engagement. Understanding how children handle emotional trauma and develop delf-control can be an imperative factor in my study.

References

Gajos, J. M., & Beaver, K. M. (2016). The development of self-control from kindergarten to fifth grade: the effects of neuropsychological functioning and adversity. Early child development and care186(10), 1571-1583.

von Stumm, S. (2017). Socioeconomic status amplifies the achievement gap throughout compulsory education independent of intelligence. Intelligence, 60, 57-62.