Teacher Practices

This exploration project will provide an in-depth observational study of the classroom instructional practices of teachers in an ongoing early childhood professional development (PD) intervention designed to promote low-income children’s mastery motivation and mathematics skills. This early childhood PD intervention is currently part of the Family Engagement in Early project funded by the Heising-Simons Foundation (referred to in this document (as the Family Engagement in Early Math project), which 1) provides teacher education about how children learn early mathematics skills, 2) provides teachers with challenging mathematics games and activities, 3) supports teachers in scaffolding mastery motivation (persistence) during these interactions, 4) promotes teachers’ incremental beliefs about learning (growth mindset), and 5) provides teachers (in one of the two treatment conditions) with support and materials to engage families with at-home mathematics games and activities that complement the in-class component. The Teacher Practices study will build on the funded Family Engagement in Early Math study, investigating in depth the instructional practices of a sub-sample of participating teachers, and utilizing teacher and student data collected by Engaging Families. We hypothesize that teachers’ instructional practices—which we are conceptualizing to include teacher-child interaction (emotionally-supportive practice, cognitive-growth-promoting practice, and cognitive-growth-promoting mathematics practice), and teacher talk (teachers’ mathematics talk and teachers’ mastery motivation-related talk)—are influenced by the intervention, and in turn promote children’s school readiness skills.

The following research questions will guide the Teacher Practices study:

  1. Is the intervention effective in changing teachers’ instructional practices? In what ways are teachers’ instructional practices influenced by the intervention?
  2. Do teachers’ instructional practices relate to preschoolers’ mastery motivation?
  3. Do teachers’ instructional practices relate to preschoolers’ mathematics learning?
  4. Do instructional practices mediate the relation of the intervention to child outcomes?