Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Preschool aggression within the social context: A study of families, teachers, and the classroom environment
by Adams, Jennifer L., Ph.D., The Florida State University, 2008, 153; 3340686
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this correlational study was to examine the extent, if any, of possible relationships between child (gender and race), family (birth order, parental age at child's birth, educational level, marital status, household income, and the biological father living in the home), teacher (proximity and perception), and classroom (global quality and location) variables and aggression (physical, relational, telling, and avoidance). Expulsions from preschool occur at an alarming rate due to aggressive acts in the classroom against peers and teachers. A total of thirty children and their families, six teachers, and three for-profit community child care centers participated in this naturalistic examination of aggression within the social context. Data collected using the Preschool Social Behavior Scales (Crick, Casas, & Mosher, 1997), the Early Childhood Environmental Rating Scale-Revised (ECERS-R) (Harms, Clifford, & Cryer, 1998), child observation log, and a family questionnaire provided a rich source of data from multiple informants. Pearson Moment Product Correlations and hierarchical linear regression were used to analyze existence of possible relationships. Consistent with previous studies, gender was a critical factor, as boys were more likely to exhibit physical aggression. Interestingly, child and family variables were not a factor in predicting aggression within the social context of the classroom. Rather, the findings suggested that teacher proximity was critical in the prediction of aggression in the classroom, as the teacher's proximity increases so does the likelihood of aggression. Teachers and children agreed on children who were physically aggressive; however, they did not agree on relational aggressors, thus suggesting further importance of the social context. This study provides support for the use of alternative measures for classroom quality, such as the calculation of play units rather than the use of the ECERS-R, which did not predict aggression. The actual location of the aggressive act was suggested to predict children's aggression in the classroom; specifically, blocks, cubbies, open table tops, and the areas that were undefined for children had the highest frequencies of aggression. Implications for early childhood practitioners include critical examination of the components of the classroom environment, including adequate quantities and quality of play materials, organized play spaces, a balance of open ended and specific use or closed centers, and the floor plan of furniture and traffic patterns within the classroom. Additionally, the teacher proximity must be utilized to reduce the likelihood of aggression among young children. Teacher training is a possible intervention for reducing expulsion in preschools. Future research is recommended in similar community based settings in order to generalize these findings to a larger population.

Indexing (document details)
School: The Florida State University
School Location: United States -- Florida
Source: DAI-A 69/12, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Early childhood education
Keywords: Aggression, Behavior, Classroom environment, Families, Preschool, Social context, Teacher proximity
Publication Number: 3340686
ISBN: 978-0-549-95576-4
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