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Publication Date



UM campus only

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Psychology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Rebecca Bulotsky-Shearer

Second Committee Member

Heather Henderson

Third Committee Member

Neena Malik


A multi-method, multi-source, contextual approach was used to measure peer social competence early in the preschool year and was examined in relation to academic readiness for an ethnically and linguistically diverse sample of children from low-income families (N=204, across 34 classrooms). Measurement models, within a structural equation modeling framework, combined an observational assessment and teacher report measure of children’s engagement with peers in the classroom. Two dimensions of peer social competence were identified, consisting of prosocial engagement with peers and difficulties engaging with peers. Prosocial engagement was positively associated (B=0.16 to 0.24, p< 0.05) with all academic readiness domains and difficulties engaging with peers was negatively associated (B = -0.28 to -0.32, p< 0.01) with alphabet knowledge and mathematics. This relationship was consistent across child sex. Once fall academic skills, and child demographic covariates were included in the model, peer social competence was not significantly associated with children’s spring academic readiness scores. Implications for future research and practice are discussed as they relate to ethnically and linguistically diverse preschool children from low-income backgrounds.


Multi-Method; Multi-Source; Peer Social Competence; Head Start