Publication Date

2010-01-01

Availability

Open access

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Psychology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense

2010-09-30

First Committee Member

Daryl B. Greenfield - Committee Chair

Second Committee Member

Rebecca J. Bulotsky-Shearer - Committee Member

Third Committee Member

Maria S. Carlo - Committee Member

Abstract

The current study examined the influence of classroom age composition (the variability in ages of children in the classroom) on low-income preschool children's rates of change in multiple domains of school readiness. The sample consisted of 4,417 preschool children enrolled in 207 classrooms in a large, diverse Head Start program. Children were assessed throughout the year on four school readiness domains: emergent literacy, emergent numeracy, social and emotional skills, and approaches to learning. Multilevel modeling was employed to examine the main effect of classroom age composition as well as the interaction between classroom age composition and child's age as predictors of children's rates of change in these school readiness domains. Results showed that classroom age composition did not uniformly influence rates of change in school readiness for all children. Instead, a significant interaction between child's age and classroom age composition indicated that younger children developed skills in the domain of approaches to learning at an increased rate when placed in classrooms with a large age composition (i.e., in classrooms with a greater degree of age-mixing). This study extends literature focused on identifying classroom structures that promote positive development of school readiness skills, particularly for at-risk children.

Keywords

Classroom Age Composition; Head Start; School Readiness; Developmental Psychology

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