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Classroom quality and academic skills: Approaches to learning as a moderator

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The purpose of this study was to examine whether approaches to learning moderated the association between child care classroom environment and Head Start children's academic skills. The data came from the Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES--2003 Cohort). The dataset is a nationally representative longitudinal study of Head Start children. The sample was selected using the stratified 4-stage sampling procedure. Data was collected in fall 2003, spring 2004, spring 2005, and spring 2006 in the first year of kindergarten. Participants included 3- and 4-year-old Head Start children (n = 786; 387 boys, 399 girls; 119 Hispanic children, 280 African American children, 312 Caucasian children). Head Start children's academic skills in letter-word identification, dictation/spelling, and mathematics at the 4 time points were measured by the Woodcock-Johnson Achievement Battery tests. Approaches to learning in fall 2003 was measured by the teacher report of the Preschool Learning Behaviors Scale. Child care classroom quality in fall 2003 was measured by the revised Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale. Results of the linear mixed effects models demonstrated that approaches to learning significantly moderated the effect of child care classroom quality on Head Start children's writing and spelling. Specifically, positive approaches to learning mitigated the negative effect of lower levels of classroom quality on dictation/spelling. Results underscore the important role of approaches to learning as a protective factor. Implications for early childhood educators with an emphasis on learning goals for disengaged children are discussed. (author abstract)
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Reports & Papers
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United States

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