Confident teachers help tiny tots gain more skills

July 26th, 2010 - 3:54 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, July 26 (IANS) Teachers with higher confidence levels help pre-schoolers gain more language and literacy skills, a new study says.
However, in some cases, students only saw gains when their teachers also had classrooms that emphasised emotional support for the children.

“Emotionally responsive relationships between teachers and children may be the way by which the self-efficacy of teachers can have a positive influence on children’s literacy,” said Ying Guo, the study co-author.

Guo is a postdoctoral researcher in education at the Ohio State University, whose study was published in the journal Teaching and Teacher Education.

She and her co-authors examined how teachers’ confidence, what researchers refer to as “self-efficacy”, affected children’s learning progression in language and literacy skills, says a Ohio state release.

The research involved a large, multi-state study that included 67 teachers and 328 of their students. Participants were followed over the course of 30 weeks.

Teachers were given a short questionnaire that measured their self-efficacy on a scale from one to five.

The level of emotional support in the classrooms was measured by trained coders. They rated the quality as low, mid, or high based on a numbering scale from one to seven.

Students were given tests of language and literacy skills at the beginning and end of the 30 week period to assess improvement.

Results indicated that students whose teachers had high self-efficacy showed gains in one measure of early literary skills called print awareness, in which students were asked questions like “Show me just one letter on this page.”

However, children only showed gains in vocabulary knowledge skills when they had a classroom that offered emotional support in addition to having a teacher with high self-efficacy.

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