Date of Award

2018

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Education

First Advisor

Paul A. McDermott

Abstract

Children’s Approaches to Learning (AtL) has been identified in research and policy as a key domain of children’s school readiness. Nevertheless, there remains a lack of consensus around the exact definition and specific dimensions of AtL. Additionally, relatively little is known about the child and family factors that shape early AtL, how it varies in the general population, or how it develops and changes through the early years of schooling. This exploratory study examined measurement and growth of children’s AtL over six occasions spanning kindergarten through second grade in the ECLS-K Class of 2010-2011. Large statistically significant correlations were observed between children’s AtL and measures of self-regulation and social skills. Latent classes of AtL growth were identified through growth mixture modeling and regressed onto explanatory covariates in order to uncover patterns and sources of variation in children’s AtL. Results revealed Higher and Lower AtL growth classes significantly associated with demographic and parenting variables measured in kindergarten. In particular, sex (male) and poverty were associated with Lower AtL trajectories, whereas the presence of both biological parents in the household, and parent involvement at school and at home predicted membership in the Higher AtL group. Implications of these findings for further clarification and exploration of AtL as a construct are discussed.

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