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Social-Emotionally Competent Preschoolers Get Ready for School: What Matters & How Can We Assess It? Susanne A. Denham And ASESSR Team

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Presentation on theme: "Social-Emotionally Competent Preschoolers Get Ready for School: What Matters & How Can We Assess It? Susanne A. Denham And ASESSR Team"— Presentation transcript:

1 Social-Emotionally Competent Preschoolers Get Ready for School: What Matters & How Can We Assess It? Susanne A. Denham And ASESSR Team George Mason University This research was supported by NICHD (R01 HD )

2 Robbie moves the fire engine to the spot that Jamila points to they are ready to rescue the people from that fire!! But then things get complicated, changing fast, as interaction often does. 4-year-olds Robbie and Jamila are pretending to be firefighters. They have firefighters hats and boots, a ride-on fire engine, a plush firehouse dog, and cots to lie on until someone rings the big bell to say Fire, Fire!. They are having fun! Jamila suddenly decides that she should be the driver, and tries to pull Robbie off its seat. At the same time, Tyrone, hovering nearby, runs over and whines to join in. But Robbie, almost falling off the fire engine, doesnt want Tyrone to join –hes too much of a baby. At the same time, Jamila trips over a cot, falls down, and starts to cry. And just then Tomas, the class bully, approaches, laughing at four-year-olds making believe and crying. To Begin: A Center-Time Story

3 Increasing focus of the search for the social- emotional side of what matters in early school readiness ( social competence, classroom adjustment, and academic achievement) : Emotional competence (understanding, expressing, regulating) Self-regulation Social problem-solving Social skills Emotional competence, self regulation, social problem-solving, and social skills work in concert to support school readiness Background for Todays Talk

4 Why We Care Children without age appropriate emotional/social skills Participate less in class Less accepted by classmates/teachers Get fewer instructions/positive feedback from teachers Like school less and less Social-Emotional competence predicts academic success in 1 st grade, even considering intelligence/family background

5 Why We Care This pattern persists. Aggressive/antisocial children are more likely to: Perform poorly on academic tasks Be held back in later grades Drop out later on Continue antisocial behavior Necessary to pinpoint social-emotional strengths as well as weaknesses. Crucial to insuring long-term well-being and academic success (Raver & Knitzer, 2002). Use assessment to track childrens progress, show programming results

6 GOALS OF TODAYS TALK Describe milestones and abilities of social-emotional competence and self-regulation, and for each: Offer assessment tools we have created or adapted in our work – direct assessment and observation of children Enumerate how information from these tools, and others, is related to childrens school readiness, broadly defined Suggest other assessment possibilities Finally, share some findings with our assessment tools regarding prediction of school readiness

7 Creation of sturdy assessment tools and specific findings from them regarding early adjustment to, and success in, school settings: Emotional Competence Self-Regulation Social problem-solving Social behavior Related to young childrens classroom adjustment, learning behaviors, and preacademic functioning (Denham, Brown, & Domitrovich, 2010) – in all the above areas, to recap: When children can engage in sustained, positive interactions with peers in the learning environment. and respond in a regulated way to the other demands of the learning environment, they are better equipped to learn. Goals of Our Work: Competence Based

8 EMOTIONAL COMPETENCE EXPRESSIVENESS REGULATING, AND COPING WITH, EMOTIONS (also cognitions and behavior) EMOTION KNOWLEDGE For each, means of assessing and findings of relations with early school success

9 EMOTIONAL EXPRESSIVENESS BASIC EMOTIONS BLENDS SOCIAL EMOTIONS STABILITY VOLUNTARY MANAGEMENT

10 Adult support often needed Redeploying attention Changing the situation/ solving the problem Emotion language Children increasingly use independent Emotion Regulation strategies Instrumental and some cognitive Connect these strategies with results Self-distract, approach or retreat, symbolic play SUPPORTED AND INDEPENDENT EMOTION REGULATION

11 EXPRESSIVENESS & EMOTION REGULATION: FINDINGS Negative expressiveness negatively related to Head Start childrens attitudes toward learning and persistence (Miller et al., 2006) Emotion regulation – emotional flexibility, equanimity, and contextual appropriateness of their emotional expression –predicted childrens later classroom adjustment (Shields et al., 2001; see also Miller et al.) Emotion regulation, assessed using the same rating scale as Shields et al., but also including a series of frustration tasks, predicted kindergarten achievement (Howse et al., 2003).

12 OTHER WAYS TO ASSESS EXPRESSIVENESS AND EMOTION REGULATION Battelle Developmental Inventory (Newborg, 2005) Devereux Early Childhood Assessment (Lebuffe & Naglieri, 1999) Penn Interactive Preschool Play Scales (McDermott et al., 2002) Behavior Assessment for Children, 2 nd Edition (BASC-2, Reynolds & Kamphaus, 1998) Rothbart temperament scales Emotion Regulation Questionnaire (Shields & Cicchetti, 1997) RESEARCH AND PRACTICE COMPENDIUM Also NICHDs National Childrens Study

13 Cool Executive Function … intentionally or deliberately hold information in mind, manage and integrate information, and resolve conflict/competition between stimulus representations and response options (Blair & Urshache, in press). e.g., pays attention during instructions and demonstrations; sustains concentration, working memory Hot Executive Function ability to suppress a dominant response and enact a less automatic, but more adaptive, response to attain a goal in a given situation, often appetitive e.g., refrains from indiscriminately touching test materials; lets examiner finish before starting task Compliance Social Behaviorarguably is or is not part of self-regulation Developmentally appropriate task e.g., cooperates; complies with assessors requests ASPECTS OF SELF-REGULATION

14 PRESCHOOL SELF-REGULATION ASSESSMENT (PSRA) Smith-Donald, Raver et al. (2007) Balance Beam/Walk the Line – regular plus 2 SLOW trials Pencil Tap -- I tap 2 times, you tap 1 time Tower Turns Gift Wrap (Peek) and Gift Wait, Toy Return Snack Delay Tongue Task Tower Clean Up Toy Sorting

15 PSRA COMPLIANCE TASK We cant play right now, but please clean up this mess and put the toys where they go. See, the cars go in here, the dinosaurs go in here, the bugs go in here, and the beads go in here. Child is timed: when does clean up begin? How long does clean up take? Does child play with toys?

16 PSRA COOL EF TASK Ok, now were going to play a game with these blocks; we can build a tower. Well take turns adding blocks to the tower. First you put one on, and then Ill put one on, and then you put one on and Ill put one on. Thats how we take turns and thats how we play this game. Keep track of whether child takes turns, engages assessor, etc.

17 New measure – found not easy to get to emotion regulation! Ratings of positive engagement, confidence, & positive emotion Ratings of emotion regulation overall Predict Head Start childrens approaches to learning, social behavior, and achievement over time Non-emotion-related results are moderately related to teachers ratings of externalizing problems (Smith-Donald et al., 2007) Aspects of Hot EF and Cool EF related to Early school success – attitudes toward learning, social competence Emotion knowledge (bi-directional but tends to be predictive) Other ways to assess: Clancy Blair, Stephanie Carlson, Adele Diamond PSRA FINDINGS

18 PRESCHOOLERS EMOTION UNDERSTANDING Expressions Situations Causes Using Emotion Language Other, More Sophisticated Skills

19 AFFECT KNOWLEDGE TEST PART I (DENHAM, 1986) 1.Point to each face: how does he/she feel? 2. Can you point to the _______face? Child names and identifies happy, sad, angry, & scared faces

20 AFFECT KNOWLEDGE TEST PART II Assessor acts out emotional situations with puppets, asks child to place a face on the puppet showing what the puppet feels. Unequivocal. Hi! Im Nancy/Johnny. Here is my brother/sister. Ah! She/he gave me some ice cream. YUM, YUM!! (Assessor acts HAPPY). Show me how Nancy/ Johnny feels!

21 AFFECT KNOWLEDGE TEST PART III NON-STEREOTYPICAL RESPONSES Seeing a big although friendly dog. Afraid Assessor would read opposite of parent survey answer: SCARED: Nancy/Johnny: Here comes a big dog!! He looks mean; his teeth are big. HAPPY: Nancy/Johnny: Here comes a big dog He looks nice; his big teeth are smiling at me. Assessor acts out ambiguous situation, where the child feels differently than the puppet. Based on Parent Questionnaire answers. Items pit positive and negative or two negative Happy

22 Requires little verbalization, quick, and fun. Scores related to other tests of social-emotional competence since 1986 by myself and many others Supported by self-regulation as assessed by PSRA Predicts concurrent and later attitudes toward learning, classroom adjustment, and kindergarten achievement Help teachers understand childs emotion knowledge Prognosticate about skills related to measure, track learning over time AFFECT KNOWLEDGE TEST FINDINGS

23 OTHER EMOTION KNOWLEDGE FINDINGS Emotion knowledge related to preschoolers classroom adjustment and academic achievement (Garner & Waajid, 2008 for low-income preschoolers; see also Leerkes et al., 2008, Shields et al.) 5-year-olds emotion knowledge predicted both their age 9 social and academic competence (Izard et al., 2001)

24 OTHER WAYS TO ASSESS EMOTION KNOWLEDGE Kusché Emotions Inventory (Kusché, 1984) – assesses childrens ability to recognize emotion language, concepts, and visual cues via drawings indicating facial expression, body posture, and situations. Happy, sad, mad, and scared, as well as the more complex emotions of confused, love, surprised, proud, disappointed, embarrassed, and tired Garner et al. (1994) line drawings of situations. Anger perception bias also scored Emotions Matching Task (Morgan, Izard, et al., 2009) brightly colored photographs of ethnically diverse children making facial expressions of happiness,sadness, anger, fear/surprise, and neutral

25 SOCIAL PROBLEM SOLVING: RESPONSIBLE DECISION MAKING Analyze social situations –– ENCODE & INTERPRET Set goals –CLARIFICATION OF GOALS Figure out effective ways to solve differences between self & others – RESPONSE GENERATION, EVALUATION, & DECISION Alternative solution generation Means-Ends thinking Consequential thinking

26 Assesses childrens social perceptions of the emotions and behavior of their peers. Asks child to make decisions about difficult peer situations: entry into play and peer provocation Focuses on how they feel, what they would do. Shows cards with choices of feelings/situations for child to choose MEASURES: CHALLENGING SITUATIONS TASK (CST)

27 CHALLENGING SITUATIONS TASK (CST) You are playing on the playground in the sandbox. Your playmate suddenly hits you

28 CHALLENGING SITUATIONS TASK – HOW DO YOU FEEL? HAPPYANGRY SADJUST OK

29 CHALLENGING SITUATION TASK– WHAT WOULD YOU DO? Tell him not to do that; suggest solution Cry Hit him back – hard! Go do something else

30 OUR RESULTS: Choices related to level of emotion knowledge, Cool EF, and teacher/peer ratings of classroom social-emotional behavior, as well as school success Sad and Prosocial choices related to early school success. Happy negatively related OTHERS RESULTS: Children at risk for behavior problems were not likely to make prosocial choices; boys with diagnosable behavior problems were 2x as likely to choose aggressive solutions. Head Start preschoolers competent and inept behavioral choices related to concurrent emotion knowledge, and to end-of-year vocabulary and literacy. CST FINDINGS

31 OTHER WAYS TO ASSESS SOCIAL PROBLEM-SOLVING Social Skills Improvement System (SSIS; Gresham & Elliot) Preschool Interpersonal Problem-Solving measure (PIPS) (Shure, 1982) Asks children to generate as many alternative solutions as possible to specific problems What Happens Next Game (WHNG; Shure) asks children to consider the consequences of various solutions. Observational means (Krasnor & Rubin, 1983; Sharp, 1981).

32 OTHER POSITIVE BEHAVIOR: RELATIONSHIP SKILLS Positive overtures to play Initiating and maintaining conversation Negotiation Saying no Seeking help Cooperating Sharing Taking turns

33 Sroufe et al. (1984); Denham et al. (1991); Denham & Burton (1996) Observational measure of social-emotional competence in free play Live Coding – 4 5-minute observations Emotional expressiveness Positive & Negative Emotion Regulation Positive & Negative Involvement in play Productive and Unproductive Social behavior Peer skill and prosocial behavior MINNESOTA PRESCHOOL AFFECT CHECKLIST (MPAC-R/S)

34 MPAC-R/S Example Items MPAC ScalesExemplars of behaviors observed Expression and regulation of positive emotion Displays positive emotion in any manner--facial, vocal, bodily Expression and regulation of negative emotion Uses negative emotion to during social interaction with someone; uses face or voice to show negative emotion Productive involvement in purposeful activity Engrossed, absorbed, intensely involved in activity; involved in an activity that the child organizes for himself Unproductive, unfocused use of personal energy Vacant; listless Lapses in impulse controlPhysical or verbal interpersonal aggression Positive management of frustrationPromptly expresses, in words, feelings arising from problem situation, then moves on Skills in peer leading and joiningSmoothly approaches an already ongoing activity Prosocial response to needs of others Shares, helps, takes turns

35 Shortened version – three mega-factors, 18 items Negative emotion/aggression Positive emotion/involvement Prosocial behavior/peer skill Emotionally negative/Aggressive predicts Classroom adjustment, attitudes toward learning, and social competence both in preschool and kindergarten Kindergarten academic aggregate Sometimes especially for boys Especially when not supported by self-regulation and emotion knowledge (which are negatively correlated) Emotionally regulated/prosocial related to emotion knowledge Minnesota Preschool Affect Checklist Results

36 OTHER RELATIONSHIP SKILLS FINDINGS Bierman et al. (2008): Children high in aggression and low in prosocial behavior had the biggest deficits in school adjustment problems (e.g., not following rules and routines, lacking enthusiasm about learning). Only prosocial deficits (not in combination with aggression) negatively predicted academic achievement. Kindergartners prosocial behavior predicts their 1 st grade self-regulation, which then predicts 1 st grade achievement (Normandeau & Guay, 1998) Many findings with older children even suggesting predicting academic success more powerfully than earlier academic success!! (Caprara et al., 2000)

37 OTHER WAYS TO ASSESS RELATIONSHIP SKILLS SSIS Behavioral and Emotional Rating 2 nd Edition (Epstein & Sharma, 1998)

38 TEACHER MEASURES PRESCHOOL LEARNING BEHAVIOR SCALE McDermott, Fantuzzo, et al. Assesses preschoolers approach to learning 3 dimensions: Competence Motivation E.g.: Says task is too hard without effort Attention/Persistence E.g.: Doesnt stay w/activity for age appropriate time Attitude Toward Learning E.g.: Aggressive or hostile when frustrated

39 TEACHER MEASURES TEACHER RATING SCALE OF EARLY SCHOOL ADJUSTMENT Ladd et al. 5 subscales measure childs behavioral/relational adjustment to school Two used here: Independent participation (e.g., Approaches new activities with enthusiasm) Cooperative participation (e.g., Aware of classroom rules)

40 TEACHER MEASURES SOCIAL COMPETENCE BEHAVIORAL EVALUATION LaFreniere & Dumas (1996) Sensitive/Cooperative Comforts or assists children in difficulty, Takes other childrens viewpoint into account Angry/Aggressive Easily frustrated; Defiant when reprimanded Anxious/Withdrawn Remains apart, isolated from the group; Sad, unhappy, depressed Related to aspects of emotional competence in earlier research: Emotion knowledge, observed emotion (e.g., Denham et al., 2003)

41 THE PRESENT STUDIES Study 1, Variable-Centered: Measures administered at the middle of the academic year to 3- and 4-year- olds; teacher measures at end of same academic year Study 2, Person-Centered: Data when measures administered to 4-year-olds only; teacher measures about 4 months later (same sample, combined waves 1 and 3) Questions to be asked: 1.How do emotion knowledge, self-regulation, emotions, and social behavior work in concert to predict teacher reports of early school adjustment? 2.Are there important aspects of context that impact these issues?

42 Study Details Study 1 n = 326 Study 2 n = 275 About half boys Children attended Head Start program in a small Virginia city and rural area Private child care in nearby suburban and semi-rural areas

43 AKT Negative Recognition AKT Emotion Situations Cool EF Hot EF Compliance Negative Emotion/ Aggression Social Behavior Teacher Reports of School Adjustment.15*. 36*. 29* * -. 22*.14*. 28*.18*. 35*.12* Structural Model of Preschoolers Social-Emotional Competence/ Self-Regulation and Their School Adjustment

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47 Study 1: No evidence of moderation or moderated mediation by center type/risk status – main effect favoring Head Start on social behavior and on teacher ratings of school adjustment Concern about potential method/rater variance regarding BUT: Head Start Anecdotally more structured, often less chaotic, Als Pals Study 2: Boys, low income site over-represented in SEL Risk group Girls over-represented in SEL Competent-Restrained Group Contextual Issues

48 Conclusions & Future Plans Emotion knowledge, Self Regulation, and Social- Emotional Behavior are working in concert Indirect and Direct prediction of early school adjustment Future plans Computerizing measures Examining teacher contribution to social-emotional competence

49 REFERENCES Bassett, H. H., Denham, S. A. & Warren-Khot, H. K. (under revision). Stability and Changes of Young Childrens Self-Regulation: Properties of the Preschool Self-Regulation Assessment (PSRA). Denham, S. A., Bassett, H. H., Way, E., Kalb, S. C., Warren-Khot, H. K., & Zinsser, K. (under review). How would you feel? What would you do? Properties of the Challenging Situations Task. Denham, S. A., Kalb, S. C., Way, E., Warren-Khot, H. K., Rhoades, B. L, & Bassett, H. H (under review). Emotion-related and social-cognitive problem solving in preschoolers: Indicator of early school readiness? Denham, S. A., Way, E., Kalb, S. C., Warren-Khot, H. K., & Bassett, H. H. (under review). Preschoolers' social information processing and school readiness: Validity of Challenging Situations Task. Bassett, H. H., Denham, S. A., Mincic, M. M., & Graling, K. (accepted). The structure of preschoolers' emotion knowledge: Model equivalence and validity using an SEM approach. Early Education and Development. Denham, S. A., Bassett, H. H., Kalb, S. C., Mincic, M., Segal, Y., & Zinsser, K. (in press). Observing preschoolers social-emotional behavior: Structure, foundations, and prediction of early school success. Journal of Genetic Psychology. Denham, S. A. Bassett, H. H., Mincic, M.M., Kalb, S. C., Way, E., Wyatt, T., & Segal, Y. (in press). Social-emotional learning profiles of preschoolers' early school success: A person-centered approach. Learning and Individual Differences. Special issue on Emotions in the Classroom. Denham, S. A., Bassett, H. H., Way, E., Mincic, M., Zinsser, K., & Graling, K. (in press). Preschoolers emotion knowledge: Self-regulatory foundations, and predictions of early school success. Cognition and Emotion. Denham, S. A., Warren-Khot, H. K., & Bassett, H. H., Wyatt, T., & Perna, A. (accepted). Factor structure of self-regulation in preschoolers: Testing models of a field-based assessment for predicting early school readiness. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. Denham, S. A., Zinsser, K.M, & Brown, C. A. (in press). The emotional basis of learning and development in early childhood education. In B. Spodek & O. Saracho (Eds.), Handbook of research on the education of young children (3 nd Ed.). New York: Lawrence Erlbaum.


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