Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Psychology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Daryl B. Greenfield

Second Committee Member

Rebecca Bulotsky Shearer

Third Committee Member

Randall Penfield


Inquiry skills in young low-income children may be an important point of intervention for promoting school readiness and later academic achievement. The current study aimed to investigate and measure the inquiry skills of low-income preschoolers. In a newly-designed, game-based assessment (the Inquiry Game), children were instructed to ask questions to determine a target picture among an array of pictures varying by color and object type. Asking constraint-seeking questions that use color and object type to eliminate multiple pictures is a more efficient strategy (and thus evidence of greater inquiry skills), in comparison to asking about a specific picture. One hundred and sixty Head Start preschoolers’ inquiry skills were assessed using the Inquiry Game at three time points. Data on children’s problem solving, math, language, and literacy skills were also collected to examine concurrent and predictive validity of the measure. Results revealed that asking about one picture at a time was the most popular strategy at all time points; however, children asked more efficient questions in the winter and spring when compared to performance in the fall. Analyses revealed a relationship between inquiry skills and vocabulary, verbal reasoning, and matrix reasoning ability. Results, as well as future directions, are presented and discussed.


inquiry; low-income; school readiness; preschoolers