Melissa K. Wouden and Dr. Craig H. Hart, Marriage, Family, and Human Development
Many early childhood education programs that serve children age three to five, focus on helping preschoolers develop healthy and positive social skills for interacting with teacher, and peers. Therefore, teachers in preschool settings are important for helping children become more socially competent. Children tend to appear more competent in their peer interactions when teachers in their classroom effectively respond and attend to their needs1. In addition, Kontos and Wilcox-Herzog1 discovered that although teachers rated themselves as highly responsive to the children=s needs, actual observations suggested that almost half of the children received no individual teacher attention. Unfortunately, a descriptive coding instrument has not been developed to measure specific types of interactions with children. Analyzing the relationship between teacher=s affective interactions with children will broaden our understanding of the influence of teachers on children=s development and the teachers= role in facilitating children’s peer group competency. The initial goal of this research was to gather qualitative data in an attempt to document dimensions of teacher-child interactions that may enhance or diminish child social competencies.
This research has examined the following questions: What broad categories of interaction between teacher and children can be identified? What sub-categories will define those main categories? What themes recur and need to be addressed in future coding?
Ethnographic observations were made through viewing videotapes of two classrooms of Head Start preschool. The teachers observed were those who participated in videotaped centers. Teachers who appeared in the centers were head teachers, assistant teachers or aids in the classrooms. IRB approval was obtained prior to videotaping.
Codes were obtained through an ethnographic coding procedure detailed by Strauss and Corbin2. One person observed the videotapes and wrote down everything that occurred within each ten-second increment. Two researchers then recorded themes reflecting occurrences recorded in written observations. Those same researchers compared results to develop the categories and sub-categories. The following categories were identified: directiveness (D), social facilitation with teacher (SF), play facilitation (P), and no teacher-child interactions (NTI)3. Code descriptions are included in the Appendix.
These codes correspond to a teaching continuum derived by Rodgers4 . She identified a spectrum of teacher-child interactions for distinguishing effective and non-effective skills in supporting children=s autonomy. Grimmer3 also implemented a coding device based on the Early Childhood Observational Instrument (ECOI) for her research on the differences in the characteristics of teacher-child interactions. The categories in the present study also parallel those in the ECOI. However the focus of our pilot study was on identifying social skill facilitation categories.
It was noted during ethnographic coding that when a teacher was present in the center, children entered the center more frequently.
It is suggested that future researchers can use our teacher codes to explore relations between teacher-child social skill facilitation and concurrent peer interactions.
- Kontos, S., & Wilcox-Herzog, A. (1997). Teachers’ interactions with children: Why are they so important? Young Children, 52, 4-12.
- Strauss, A. & Corbin, J. (1990) Basics of Qualitative Research: Grounded Theory Procedures and Techniques. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.
- Grimmer, S. T., Clawson, M. A., & Vaccaro, T. (1998, July). Auspice differences in the characteristics of teacher-child interaction. Poster presented at Head starts fourth National Research Conference, Washington, D.C.
- Rodgers (1998). Supporting the autonomy in young children. Young Children, 53, 75-80.
Abbreviated Teacher Codes
Directiveness (D) Defined as:
Lectures or demonstrates to children about how to build something, while children told to watch/be quiet
while teacher is talking
Directs resolution of conflict
Uses verbal negative reinforcement for unacceptable behaviors
Points to direct child’s behavior
Uses physical closeness in a negative manner
Social Facilitation with teacher (SF) Defined as:
Encourages peer cooperation or other peer prosocial behaviors
Gives specific compliments on children’s interactions or constructions
Models appropriate behavior with children’s suggestions and help
Engages in social conversation with children
Initiates physical proximity in a positive manner
Verbally acknowledges child’s requests
Redirects behaviors among children and gives alternative
Play Facilitation (P) Defined as:
Gives appropriate suggestions for play
Asks questions of children as they play
Initiates play activity with child or children, appropriately
Joins child or children in center and participates in child’s ongoing activities
Participates in pretend play with child or children
Completes the requests of a child in play bouts
Hands or receives toy from child
No Teacher-Child Interaction (NTI) Defined as:
Personally preoccupied with materials, observing a child, observing other than a child, and doesn’t acknowledge requests or conversations of a child