A peek at the playground: how teacher's style and engagement impacts children's play

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University of Alabama Libraries

The current study was a replication and extension of our previous study (Kendrick et.al, 2011) which examined the play behaviors of preschool children (range: 2-5.5 yrs old) and how teachers' presence and engagement may impact children's play while on the playground. In the current study we also examine the influence of teachers' style on children's play while on the playground. Two sites were examined over a five week period; one served as the control group and the other as the experimental group. Within the five-week timeline, both groups participated in weekly teacher instruction consisting of being in close proximity (i.e. within 3 feet) of the children in the playground. Behaviors of the teachers and children were observed, recorded and coded at three time points (baseline, 3 weeks, and 5 weeks). The analyses revealed that initially having teachers in close proximity to children while on the playground reduced children's onlooker behavior and increased their parallel play. Over time children appeared to habituate to the teacher's proximity as they resumed play behaviors seen at baseline. Interestingly, teacher proximity also had an impact on teacher's engagement style. For example, both groups of teachers displayed more neutral, rule enforcer or director of play styles at baseline, but over time both groups moved toward more child directed styles. When examining more closely the impact of teacher training in the experimental group, which involved strategies to facilitate complex play and reduce aimless and onlooker behaviors, the experimental group compared to the control group (those who did not receive training), seemed to have a more negative impact on children's play behavior. That is, more aimless behavior and less simple social play was observed in the experimental group indicating that the teacher training was not helpful in facilitating children's social skill development. Methods for coding and analyzing data as well as implications of the teacher training are further discussed.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Developmental psychology, Early childhood education