TSR Tools Used in Two New Research Studies
As part of a highly competitive national grants program focusing on education research, the Institute of Education Sciences and the National Center for Education Research recently awarded the Children’s Learning Institute with two – out of the four - grants given to Texas-based institutions.
“Many states estimate that half of their students arrive at kindergarten already far behind where they need to be in order to succeed,” said Dr. Susan Landry, director of the Children’s Learning Institute and principal investigator for both grant projects. “However, there is a growing consensus that high quality preschool experiences can lay a strong foundation for school readiness even among economically disadvantaged children. We will test which instructional approaches best create this foundation.”
One of the grant-funded projects, known as ePATT (Parents and Teachers Together), will evaluate the impact of two web-based preschool programs — both developed at the Children’s Learning Institute — on children, their parents, and teacher outcomes. The first of these programs utilizes the tested and proven Texas School Ready! project in its remote, video-based form. The second program is Play and Learning Strategies (PALS), which provides training for parents. The coaches support parents remotely in combination with the web-based curriculum sessions and video training to develop a set of core behaviors that comprise a responsive interaction style between parent and child. Results from this study will be compared with a similar study carried out from 2009-2012, which was conducted in a face-to-face manner. In addition, an economic evaluation and comparison of the two studies will be conducted.
This 4-year study will be conducted with teachers in 66 Head Start classrooms and more than 528 children and their parents. The research will focus on children from low-income backgrounds, including a high percentage of Spanish-speaking, English language learners.
The results of this study will not only test the unique and combined effects of a classroom-based and home-based program, but also will provide information about the cost effectiveness of the in-person versus online delivery models of instruction.
“This study will allow us to see if a technological approach can produce similar effects of practical importance at lower costs,” Landry said. “We also will be able to examine whether the combined school and home approach is more likely to lead to school readiness for children of lower socio-economic status.”
The other grant project will compare two distinct approaches in providing professional development to child care teachers in language and literacy instruction: remote, video-based coaching, and in-classroom coaching. This project will take place in subsidized child care classrooms in urban and rural areas. Participants in this 4-year study include 210 child care teachers with 1,680 low-income children from diverse backgrounds.
Researchers will measure the effects of these approaches on teachers’ skills as well as on children’s school readiness skills, including social and emotional development, language, math, early literacy, and reading. To help achieve its results, this study will employ Texas School Ready!, which includes teacher feedback for 90 minutes per week with either video-based, remote coaching, or in-classroom coaching, along with the completion of eCIRCLE online professional development classes.
This study also will analyze the cost effectiveness of the in-person versus online delivery models of instruction.
“Video-based, remote coaching has the potential to significantly lower the costs of training teachers and can be replicated,” Landry said. “In-class support is more expensive and can sometimes be challenging to implement. However, it allows for greater differentiation of demonstrations and co-teaching to bridge the gap between coursework and implementation with children to improve early learning.”