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PhD ceremony Ms. M.N. Mascareño Lara: Learning opportunities in kindergarten classrooms. Teacher-child interactions and child developmental outcomes

When:Th 10-04-2014 at 16:15
Where:Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen

PhD ceremony: Ms. M.N. Mascareño Lara

Dissertation: Learning opportunities in kindergarten classrooms. Teacher-child interactions and child developmental outcomes

Promotor(s): prof. R.J. Bosker, prof. C. Snow

Faculty: Behavioural and Social Sciences

This dissertation explored the characteristics or teacher-child interaction in Chilean kindergarten classrooms, and its links to child learning and developmental outcomes. These classrooms participated in the Un Buen Comienzo project (A Good Start), a large-scale intervention aimed at providing better early childhood education to children from disadvantaged contexts.

In the first two studies we explored the verbal interaction during whole-class read-alouds in detail. The main distinction was whether the conversation about the story required children to make inferences (inferential, complex language) or to address perceptual information (literal, less complex language). Overall, we found great variability in the way teachers lead these activities. As for the relationship to child outcomes, we saw that children in classrooms with a higher proportion of inferential language had a higher score in a passage comprehension test. But we also found that in those classrooms where there were more switches in the complexity of the conversations, children had higher vocabulary scores.

The next two studies showed that the linkages between the overall quality of teacher-child interactions and child outcomes are complex. We identified profiles of child competence in kindergarten, which revealed that children embody diverse combinations of academic, cognitive and socioemotional competence. Classroom interaction quality did not relate equally to each of these profiles, suggesting that children with different characteristics benefit from different classroom environments.

This dissertation underscores the notion that in order to represent opportunities for learning, teacher-child interaction has to match what the child needs and is ready to seize.

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