Current Research Projects
The EMOTERS Project: Developing and Validating a Measure of Social-Emotional Teaching in Preschool Classrooms
With funding from the Institute of Education Sciences and in collaboration with the Development in Schools Context Lab at George Mason University, we are launching a new measurement development project in 2016-2017!
Surprisingly little is known about specific strategies teachers use to support children’s social and emotional development. Students’ social and emotional learning (SEL) is certainly valued, especially in early childhood. Indeed, with its focus on the whole child and origins apart from formal school systems, the field of early childhood has long recognized that children’s social-emotional skills feature prominently in their ability to function in preschool environments. Yet, scant research has documented how and why what teachers do in the classroom does or doesn’t support children’s social and emotional learning. This four-year iterative measurement development and validation project will ultimately result in a psychometrically rigorous observational assessment of teacher practices that support children emerging emotional competence which can be used in research, intervention evaluation, and teacher professional development.
Contexts of Discipline: Understanding How Social-Emotional Supports Impact Preschool Suspension and Expulsion Practices
More than 8,000 public preschoolers were suspended or expelled in 2014 and a disproportionate number of these young learners were boys and African American children. The rates of expulsion and suspension have been estimated to be up to four times higher in private center-based preschool programs. Known interventions to reduce the overall rate of, and racial and gender disparities in, preschool suspensions and expulsions are costly and scarce. The present study will provide a richer understanding of the contextual and intrapersonal factors contributing to the use of preschool discipline, and explore the impact of universal social-emotional supports on disciplinary practices. With funding from the National Academy of Education and the Spencer Foundation, this investigation will employ a mixed-method approach, combining surveys with selective in-depth interviews to address two research goals: to understand the prevalence of, and associations between, discipline and social-emotional supports in private preschool centers across diverse Chicago neighborhoods; and to understand the associations between centers’ rates of severe discipline and teachers’ experience with, and beliefs about social-emotional learning.