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Stability and change in teacher-infant interaction quality over time

Given that an increasing number of infants spend part of the day in center-based childcare in many countries, understanding infants' education and care experiences in these settings is essential. The aims of this study are to examine change in teacher-infant interaction quality over time, and to determine the extent to which teacher and classroom structural characteristics are associated with change in teacher-infant interaction quality. Ninety infant childcare classrooms from the greater metropolitan area of Porto, Portugal, participated in this study. Each classroom was observed twice (6-month interval between Time 1 and Time 2) by trained and reliable observers using the Infant/Toddler Environment Rating Scale - Revised (ITERS-R; Harms et al., 2006), the Classroom Assessment Scoring System - Infant (CLASS-Infant; Hamre et al., 2014), and the Caregiver Interaction Scale (CIS; Arnett, 1989). Additionally, teachers provided demographic information about themselves and structural characteristics of the classroom. Overall results indicated that the quality of teacher-infant interactions changed over time, with a general trend toward lower quality at Time 2. The increase in infant:adult ratio from Time 1 to Time 2 was an important predictor of process quality levels at Time 2, after controlling for prior quality and other structural characteristics. These findings can be informative for policymaking as group size and number of adults per classroom are regulated features of childcare in many countries, including Portugal. (author abstract)
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