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Preschool teachers' professional training, observational feedback, child-centered beliefs and motivation: Direct and indirect associations with social and emotional responsiveness


Background Young children's social and emotional competence is a key predictor of their current and future academic and social success. Although preschool teachers are critical socializing agent of children's social and emotional development, we know little about factors associated with preschool teachers' social and emotional responsiveness. Objective This study examined how preschool teachers' educational training and regularity of receiving observational feedback were associated with teachers' social and emotional responsiveness, as mediated by more personal characteristics such as teachers' child-centered beliefs and motivation for professional development. Method We investigated direct and indirect associations using a national survey of 1129 preschool teachers in the United States. Results We found that teachers with an associate degree, compared to those without, were more likely to respond negatively to children's emotional displays. Taking child development or early education coursework was associated with less negative social guidance. Receiving regular observational feedback was associated with greater encouragement of expressing emotion and with less negative social guidance. We also found significant indirect associations. For example, teachers who received regular observational feedback had greater motivation for professional development, which in turn, predicted more positive social guidance and emotional responsiveness. Conclusions More stringent educational criteria for preschool educators and ongoing observational feedback may support teachers' optimal social and emotional responsiveness. In addition, educational training should incorporate child-centered theory and practices and observational feedback should include information specific to professional development resources. (author abstract)

Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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