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Title page for ETD etd-10152018-185120

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Cunningham, Jennifer Elizabeth
URN etd-10152018-185120
Title Exploring the Relationship Between Positive Behavior Support and Language Supporting Interactions in Preschool Classrooms
Degree PhD
Department Special Education
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Ann Kaiser Committee Chair
Carol Trivette Committee Member
Erin Barton Committee Member
Mary Louise Hemmeter Committee Member
  • Early language development
  • positive behavior support
  • preschool classrooms
Date of Defense 2018-09-14
Availability unrestricted
Meta-analyses examining professional development efforts to enhance the quality of language instruction in preschool classrooms found that such trainings result in small, non-significant effects on child vocabulary (Cunningham & Kaiser, 2017, Markussen-Brown et al., 2017). In the language-focused PD literature, training is often primarily focused on specific conversational or instructional strategies related to language. Few studies have examined how features such as classroom organization and behavior management may influence teacher-child interactions in ways that enhance, or inhibit, language learning.

The goal of this study was to extend what is known about factors that contribute to the language-learning environment in early childhood classrooms. Two primary research questions were addressed: (1) Are measures of teacher use of classroom wide positive behavior support strategies (PBS) associated with the quantity and quality of teacher-child language interactions during center time in preschool classrooms? (2) Do teachers who receive training in PBS strategies engage in higher quality language interactions with children as compared to teachers in a control group?

Findings indicate that teachers’ scores on a measure of PBS were a significant predictor of: frequency of child directed utterances, frequency of teacher utterances coded as language supportive, and global ratings of language support. Teachers who received PBS training demonstrated an average increase of 27.85 language supportive utterances from pre- to post-test. Findings from this project provides support for the hypothesis that a positive relationship exists between classroom management/PBS, and the language-learning environment of preschool classrooms.

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