Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Psychology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Daryl B. Greenfield

Second Committee Member

Rebecca J. Bulotsky-Shearer

Third Committee Member

Heather A. Henderson

Fourth Committee Member

Batya E. Elbaum

Fifth Committee Member

Seth J. Schwartz


This study integrated variable- and child-centered techniques to investigate trajectories of four learning behaviors (initiative, persistence, planning, and problem-solving flexibility) and their influence on Head Start preschoolers' academic school readiness. Variable-centered findings revealed differential, quadratic growth trajectories for each of the four learning behaviors. However, where children began the year (intercept), how much they changed across the year (slope), and how much their rate of change changed across the year (quadratic) differed depending on the learning behavior. Initiative and problem-solving flexibility emerged as significant predictors of end-of-year academic school readiness skills, controlling for persistence and planning. There was no evidence of moderation of the relations between learning behaviors and academic skills by child demographic characteristics. Child-centered results provided a more nuanced description of the development of these four learning behaviors. Analyses suggested there may be subgroups of children with different developmental trajectories for each of the four learning behaviors and that these subgroups have significantly different school readiness skills at the end of the year. These findings help extend our current understanding of learning behaviors and, if replicated, may inform the content and timing of early childhood teaching practices and interventions.


Early Childhood; Growth Mixture Modeling