Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Preschoolers' language skills improve more when they're placed with more-skilled peers

26.10.2011
Preschool children with relatively poor language skills improve more if they are placed in classrooms with high-achieving students, a new study found.

Researchers found that children with relatively poor language skills either didn't improve over the course of one academic year, or actually lost ground in development of language skills, when they were placed with other low-achieving students.

The results have important implications because many preschool programs in the United States are targeted to children in poverty, who may exhibit lags in their development of language skills, said Laura Justice, lead author of the study and professor in the School of Teaching and Learning at Ohio State University.

"The way preschool works in the United States, we tend to cluster kids who have relatively low language skills in the same classrooms, and that is not good for their language development," Justice said.

"We need to pay more attention to the composition of preschool classrooms."

Justice conducted the study with Yaacov Petscher and Christopher Schatschneider of Florida State University and Andrew Mashburn of the University of Virginia. Their findings appear in the new issue of the journal Child Development.

More than 80 percent of American children participate in preschool, Justice said. About half of these children attend preschool programs that are subsidized through state and/or federal dollars, the majority of which only enroll children in poverty.

Because children in poverty face increased risk for poor language skills, that means kids with low skills are often clustered together, she said.

The study involved 338 children enrolled in 49 preschool classrooms. The children completed a variety of standardized measures of their language skills in the fall of the academic year. The measures were repeated in the spring, giving the researchers a test of their improvement over the year.

These measures examined the children's grammar skills and vocabulary and ability to discuss what was happening in a wordless picture book.

The researchers also assessed the instructional quality of the children's classrooms to ensure that differences in children's reading skills weren't the result simply of the quality of teaching.

Results showed that children with low initial language skills who were placed in the lowest-ability classes tended to lose ground over the course of the academic year. However, low-skilled students in average-ability classes improved their language skills between fall and spring.

High-ability students don't suffer by being placed in classrooms with lower-ability students, Justice said. High-ability students improved their scores whether they were in low-ability or average-ability classrooms.

"Children with high language abilities don't seem to be effected by the other kids in their class," she said.

The researchers also found that the reference status of the students mattered – in other words, their standing relative to the other students in their classroom.

For example, the findings showed that the very lowest-ability students in the low-ability classrooms did improve their language skills over the course of the year – presumably because the other students in the class, while low ability, still had greater language skills than they did.

These results can't explain how peers affect the language skills of preschoolers, Justice said. It may be through direction interaction among the children, or it may involve how teacher expectations and efficacy differs depending on the composition of their classrooms.

But the results do suggest that "tracking" students into high and low achievement classrooms may be short-changing the students who most need help.

"If we really want to help lift kids out of poverty, and use preschool as a way to make that happen, we need to reconsider how we provide that education," Justice said.

"Classrooms that blend students from different backgrounds are the best way to provide the boost that poor students need."

The study was funded by the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education.

Contact: Laura Justice, ljustice@ehe.osu.edu. (It is best to reach Dr. Justice first by e-mail.)

Written by Jeff Grabmeier, (614) 292-8457; Grabmeier.1@osu.edu

Laura Justice | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.osu.edu

More articles from Science Education:

nachricht Oink, oink makes the pig - Pictures and gestures are effective support methods in foreign language teaching for children
13.05.2020 | Technische Universität Dresden

nachricht How Humans and Machines Navigate Complex Situations
19.11.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

All articles from Science Education >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Atmospheric and Earth System Research With Special Halo Aircraft to Continue

From 2022, the atmospheric and earth system research campaigns conducted using the “High Altitude and Long Range Research Aircraft” HALO will receive another six years of funding from the German Research Foundation (DFG): the DFG has granted an extension to the Infrastructure Priority Programme 1294 for the scientific use of HALO for the period from 2022 until 2027. The programme on atmospheric and earth system research, which the DFG has been funding since 2007, is coordinated by Professor Manfred Wendisch from Leipzig University together with Professor Joachim Curtius from the Goethe University Frankfurt.

The total budget for the third phase of HALO SPP 1294 is based on the volume from previous years, with approximately 12 million euros for scientific proposals...

Im Focus: A new path for electron optics in solid-state systems

A novel mechanism for electron optics in two-dimensional solid-state systems opens up a route to engineering quantum-optical phenomena in a variety of materials

Electrons can interfere in the same manner as water, acoustical or light waves do. When exploited in solid-state materials, such effects promise novel...

Im Focus: Electron cryo-microscopy: Using inexpensive technology to produce high-resolution images

Biochemists at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) have used a standard electron cryo-microscope to achieve surprisingly good images that are on par with those taken by far more sophisticated equipment. They have succeeded in determining the structure of ferritin almost at the atomic level. Their results were published in the journal "PLOS ONE".

Electron cryo-microscopy has become increasingly important in recent years, especially in shedding light on protein structures. The developers of the new...

Im Focus: The spin state story: Observation of the quantum spin liquid state in novel material

New insight into the spin behavior in an exotic state of matter puts us closer to next-generation spintronic devices

Aside from the deep understanding of the natural world that quantum physics theory offers, scientists worldwide are working tirelessly to bring forth a...

Im Focus: Excitation of robust materials

Kiel physics team observed extremely fast electronic changes in real time in a special material class

In physics, they are currently the subject of intensive research; in electronics, they could enable completely new functions. So-called topological materials...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Contact Tracing Apps against COVID-19: German National Academy Leopoldina hosts international virtual panel discussion

07.07.2020 | Event News

International conference QuApps shows status quo of quantum technology

02.07.2020 | Event News

Dresden Nexus Conference 2020: Same Time, Virtual Format, Registration Opened

19.05.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Cutting-Edge Research to Advance Development of Next-Generation Satellite-Terrestrial Networks

16.07.2020 | Information Technology

Fraunhofer ISE Develops with Partners a Novel High-Throughput System for Functional Printing

16.07.2020 | Machine Engineering

Blueprint of Oxytocin Receptor Facilitates Development of New Autism Drugs

16.07.2020 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>