An Integrative View of School Functionin
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<ul><li><p>An Integrative View of School Functioning: Transactions BetweenSelf-Regulation, School Engagement, and TeacherChild Relationship Quality</p><p>Ximena A. PortillaStanford Graduate School of Education</p><p>Parissa J. BallardUniversity of California, San Francisco and</p><p>University of California, Berkeley</p><p>Nancy E. Adler and W. Thomas BoyceUniversity of California, San Francisco</p><p>Jelena ObradovicStanford Graduate School of Education</p><p>This study investigates the dynamic interplay between teacherchild relationship quality and childrens behav-iors across kindergarten and rst grade to predict academic competence in rst grade. Using a sample of 338ethnically diverse 5-year-old children, nested path analytic models were conducted to examine bidirectionalpathways between childrens behaviors and teacherchild relationship quality. Low self-regulation in kinder-garten fall, as indexed by inattention and impulsive behaviors, predicted more conict with teachers in kin-dergarten spring and this effect persisted into rst grade. Conict and low self-regulation jointly predicteddecreases in school engagement which in turn predicted rst-grade academic competence. Findings illustratethe importance of considering transactions between self-regulation, teacherchild relationship quality, andschool engagement in predicting academic competence.</p><p>The transition into formal schooling entails a periodwhen children shift from predominately interactingwith parents and begin interacting with other chil-dren and teachers. As such, children are exposed tonew inuences and settings that shape later experi-ences, marking this transition a sensitive period forlater school success (Rimm-Kaufman & Pianta,2000). These complex social settings place consider-able demands on young children: Kindergartenersneed to form new relationships, control theirimpulses, focus and pay attention, communicatetheir needs appropriately, and engage with learningmaterial. The dynamic interplay among all thesekey ingredients is critical in determining childrens</p><p>school readiness. While many studies have exam-ined relations among some of these elements ofchildrens early schooling to predict future aca-demic achievement, few have investigated thesetogether both concurrently and over time. Thisstudy aims to ll this gap by rigorously investigat-ing the dynamic interplay between teacherchildrelationship quality and childrens behaviors acrossthe kindergarten and rst-grade years to predictacademic competence in rst grade.</p><p>TeacherChild Relationships</p><p>For many young children, kindergarten presentsa time for developing bonds with other adults.Although teachers may appear to be transient g-ures in childrens lives as they progress from gradeto grade, teachers play an important role in shapingchildrens adjustment to the school context.Teacherchild relationships that exhibit high close-ness are characterized by warmth and respect, withchildren seeing their teachers as a source for secu-rity. Conversely, negative teacherchild relation-ships that are characterized by high conict appearto pose risks to childrens school success (Pianta,</p><p>This research was supported by Grant R01 MH62320 from theNational Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Preparation of thismanuscript by Ximena A. Portilla was supported in part by theInstitute of Education Sciences (IES), U.S. Department of Educa-tion, through Grant R305B090016 to Stanford University and aresearch grant from the Canadian Institute for AdvancedResearch (CIFAR) to Jelena Obradovic. The authors acknowledgethe substantive contributions made by Juliet Stamperdahl andNicole R. Bush in collecting and processing the data. The authorsalso thank the teachers, children, and families who participatedand made this research possible. The ndings, conclusions, andopinions here are those of the authors and do not representviews of the NIMH, IES, the U.S. Department of Education, orCIFAR.Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to</p><p>Ximena A. Portilla, Stanford Graduate School of Education, 520Galvez Mall, #407, Stanford, CA 94305. Electronic mail may besent to firstname.lastname@example.org.</p><p> 2014 The AuthorsChild Development 2014 Society for Research in Child Development, Inc.All rights reserved. 0009-3920/2014/8505-0014DOI: 10.1111/cdev.12259</p><p>Child Development, September/October 2014, Volume 85, Number 5, Pages 19151931</p></li><li><p>1999). While teacherchild closeness and conict arerelated constructs, they are only moderately corre-lated, assessing unique aspects of relationship qual-ity as opposed to falling along an underlyingcontinuum.</p><p>It is increasingly evident that the quality of theteacherchild relationship matters for childrenssocial and academic performance in school. Chil-dren who are able to successfully navigate earlysocial environments in school and form close bondswith teachers can be set on positive developmentaltrajectories. Close teacherchild relationships havebeen positively linked to childrens school engage-ment (Birch & Ladd, 1997), academic performance,and good work habits (Baker, 2006; Birch & Ladd,1997; Graziano, Reavis, Keane, & Calkins, 2007;Hamre & Pianta, 2001), and these associations areshown to persist across the elementary schoolgrades (Baker, 2006). Teachers who exhibit strongemotional support in their classrooms have beenshown to improve childrens reading achievementfrom preschool to fth grade (Pianta, Belsky, Van-dergrift, Houts, & Morrison, 2008) and increasephonological awareness from kindergarten to rstgrade (Curby, Rimm-Kaufman, & Ponitz, 2009). Atschool entry, highly sensitive teachers have beenfound to buffer the effects of a negative family con-text for children who have insecure attachmentswith their mothers by reducing childrens risk foraggressive behavior (Buyse, Verschueren, & Dou-men, 2011). Furthermore, positive interactions withteachers may benet children who exhibit the high-est levels of problematic behaviors at the start ofkindergarten (Silver, Measelle, Armstrong, & Essex,2005). These benets appear to extend to otherdomains of adaptive functioning. When comparinga group of children who displayed high levels ofaggression, those who experienced warm relation-ships with their teachers performed better in read-ing achievement than those who did not (Baker,Grant, & Morlock, 2008).</p><p>However, children differ in their ability to con-nect with teachers and capitalize on these experi-ences that promote school success. In particular,conict with teachers may negatively impact chil-drens sense of belonging and perception ofacademic competence, as well as the motivation orengagement necessary to excel in school (Spilt,Hughes, Wu, & Kwok, 2012). In fact, relationshipscharacterized by conict have been associated withgreater school avoidance, lower school engagement,less self-directedness, and less cooperative partici-pation (Birch & Ladd, 1997). Teachers who perceiveyoung children to be aggressive, argumentative, or</p><p>clingy are more likely to be referred for special ser-vices or be retained (Pianta, Steinberg, & Rollins,1995); this provides more evidence of the deleteri-ous consequences for children who experienceconictual relationships with their teachers.Furthermore, kindergarten teacherchild relation-ships characterized by relational negativity pre-dicted lower student grades, standardized testscores and work habits through elementary school,and continued to uniquely predict behavioral dif-culty through middle school (Hamre & Pianta,2001). Hamre and Piantas (2001) ndings highlightthe long reach early teacherchild relationshipconict may have on childrens future academicsuccess.</p><p>Bidirectional Transactions Between TeacherChildRelationship Quality and Child Functioning</p><p>Extending a transactional model of development(Sameroff & MacKenzie, 2003) to a school context,it is theorized that childrens behaviors and theclassroom environment, indexed in this study byrelationship quality with teachers, interact throughbidirectional processes. Over time, the interplaybetween teacherchild relationship quality andchildrens behaviors may form patterns that serveas both inputs and outcomes to childrens develop-ment (Arnold, McWilliams, & Arnold, 1998;Downer, Sabol, & Hamre, 2010). To illustrate,Doumen et al. (2008) found empirical evidence thatchildrens aggressive behavior displayed at kinder-garten onset led to greater teacherchild conict bythe middle of the school year, which in turn led tomore aggressive behavior by those children at theend of the year. Some researchers argue that nega-tive child characteristics largely drive conict withteachers as conict tends to be measured byteachers perceptions of relationship quality and iscomposed of reactive teacher behavior resultingfrom dealing with challenging behavior (Silveret al., 2005).</p><p>Children who perceive their teachers to beaccepting and caring are more likely to internalizelearning and prosocial goals valued by their teach-ers (Wentzel, 1999). By displaying expectedbehavior in the classroom, positive interactions withteachers are theorized to further reinforceacceptable behavior. However, empirical evidencesuggests that teacherchild closeness is only moder-ately associated with child characteristics (Jerome,Hamre, & Pianta, 2009). The degree to which chil-dren and teachers can connect may be more indica-tive of a dynamic pattern building on strengths of</p><p>1916 Portilla, Ballard, Adler, Boyce, and Obradovic</p></li><li><p>both teacher and child, rather than a reactive pat-tern to child characteristics as is conceptualized forteacherchild conict (Spilt et al., 2012).</p><p>Predictors of TeacherChild Relationship Quality andSchool Readiness</p><p>There is general consensus that early experiencesin school are critical for shaping childrens futureacademic careers. Children who achieve academi-cally early on continue to show achievement gains;those who encounter learning problems face contin-uing negative consequences that persist over time(Perry, Donohue, & Weinstein, 2007). To enhancechildrens early school experiences, it is essential tobetter understand competencies that promote learn-ing and positive relationship quality with teachers.In particular, two areas of childrens functioningthat are thought to predict school readiness andacademic achievement are childrens self-regulationskills (Blair & Razza, 2007; Duncan et al., 2007;McClelland et al., 2007) and school engagement(Fredricks, Blumenfeld, & Paris, 2004; Ladd &Dinella, 2009).</p><p>Self-Regulation</p><p>Self-regulation is a broad, multidimensional con-struct consisting of cognitive and behavioral pro-cesses that allow individuals to maintain optimallevels of emotional, motivational, and cognitivearousal for positive adjustment and adaptation(Blair & Diamond, 2008). Self-regulatory capacitiesare implicated in the ability to control impulses andpay attention, behaviors that are relevant for schoolsuccess. Upon entering kindergarten, children arefaced with a new set of challenges in the classroom:They need to learn how to be independent fromtheir caregivers, navigate social interactions withother children, pay attention for longer periods oftime, and adhere to a classroom routine (Rimm-Kaufman & Pianta, 2000).</p><p>Difculties with self-regulation may be most eas-ily observed as impulsive and inattentive behaviorin the classroom setting. Both of these behaviorsmay be seen as markers of low inhibitory control,particularly response inhibition in the context ofimpulsive behaviors and interference suppression inthe context of inattention. Furthermore, Barkley(1997) theorized that inattention and impulsivityemerge when children face challenges with emo-tional self-regulation and working memory. Lowperformance on laboratory tasks measuring self-reg-ulation have been associated with higher incidence</p><p>of inattention and impulsivity in young children(Olson, Sameroff, Kerr, Lopez, & Wellman, 2005).Moreover, children who lack the attentional andinhibitory control processes necessary to focus oneducational material tend to exhibit challengeslearning and engaging with classroom activities.These challenges potentially place them at risk forreduced academic achievement as they progressthrough school (Blair, 2002). Such an associationwas evident from six longitudinal studies suggest-ing that childrens attentional skills in kindergarten,such as task persistence, predicted math and read-ing achievement in third grade (Duncan et al.,2007).</p><p>However, inattention and impulsive behaviorsdo not only reect low levels of self-regulationskills. These behaviors are multiply determined andcan be socially constructed. Indeed, research showsthat relationship quality is important and childrensability to self-regulate contributes to how they areviewed by others, particularly teachers (Myers &Pianta, 2008). Recent empirical studies provide evi-dence that both parent and teacher survey mea-sures of self-regulation skills predict greaterteacherchild closeness (Liew, Chen, & Hughes,2010; Rudasill & Rimm-Kaufman, 2009; Valiente,Swanson, & Lemery-Chalfant, 2012) and parent-reported self-regulation skills predict less teacherchild conict (Myers & Morris, 2009). Conversely,children who display inattention and impulsivitymay experience difculties engaging in positiverelationships with teachers (Barkley, 1998). Teachersmay view children who lack self-regulatory capaci-ties as intentionally misbehaving, causing teachers toreact in a disciplinary fashion and engage in moreconict with these children. Beyond disciplining,teachers may only engage with these children in aninstructional format, affording fewer opportunitiesfor mutual exchange and positive interaction (Silvaet al., 2011). Furthermore, the presence of challeng-ing behaviors may be more salient and consumingto teachers, disrupting learning opportunities for allchildren within the classroom.</p><p>School Engagement</p><p>School engagement has often been studied as apossible antecedent of academic achievement. Thisconstruct has been broadly conceptualized in threedomains: behavioral (i.e., participation in extracur-ricular activities), emotional (i.e., positive and nega-tive feelings and reactions toward school, teachers,peers), or cognitive (i.e., willingness to invest inlearning difcult skills and comprehension of</p><p>Integrative View of School Functioning 1917</p></li><li><p>complex ideas; Fredricks et al., 2004). Young chil-drens school engagement may be most manifestedthrough an examination of emotional schoolengagement. A signicant body of evidence sup-ports the idea that emotional school engagement isan important predictor for academic functioning(Ladd, Buhs, & Seid, 2000; Ladd & Dinella, 2009).When children exhibit positive attitudes towardschool, they are more likely to engage in classroomactivities that are designed to promote academicand social competencies (Ladd et al., 2000). Simi-larly, children who demonstrate an orientationtoward learning and respond to classroom chal-lenges in a mastery-oriented fashion tend to displaypatterns of motivation that predict positive schooladjustment (Heyman & Dweck, 1992).</p><p>Tea...</p></li></ul>
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An Integrative View of School Functioning: Transactions Between Self-Regulation, School Engagement, and Teacher-Child Relationship Quality
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