04 SES 07 F, From The Eyes Of Children: Young Students Perspectives On Peers And Inclusion
The main prerequisite for children’s participation in preschool activities is attendance. Inclusive preschools enable each child to attend, but physical inclusion does not guarantee that children will participate in learning activities and benefit from them. To benefit from learning activities, children need to be engaged (European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education, 2016; Imms et al., 2017). Engagement refers to the intensity, endurance or the amount of time children spend actively interacting with adults, peers, materials and activitie in their environment, in a way appropriate to their development, competence level and environmental context (De Kruif & McWilliam, 1999; Maher Ridley, McWilliam, & Oates, 2000). Engagement in an educational setting is a result of dynamic interactions between the characteristics of individual children and their environment (Bronfenbrenner & Ceci, 1994; Shonkoff & Phillips 2000).
Children high in hyperactivity and inattention are less engaged in classroom activities (Searle, Miller-Lewis, Sawyer, & Baghurst, 2013; Sjöman, Granlund, & Almqvist, 2016). Such findings about the relationship between hyperactivity and engagement come from studies that assessed engagement like it was a trait of the child rather than the state the child is in. When engagement is operationalized as a score on a survey it reflects the child’s global level of engagement, as perceived by their teacher, and it’s closely related to the child’s stable traits, dispositions and capabilities. It can be said that children that show symptoms of hyperactivity in preschool age are perceived by their teachers as generally less engaged in preschool activities.
Although related to child’s characteristics, engagement is not a fixed attribute of the child, but a potentially malleable state influenced by contextual factors and that’s what makes it a very attractive concept to educators (Sinclair, Christenson, Lehr, & Reschly, 2003; Skinner, Kindermann, & Furrer, 2009). Engagement happens in interaction between the child and its environment. Observational measure of engagement such as Child Observation in Preschool (COP; Farran & Anthony, 2014) offers a way to measure engagement as a context-dependent state. It allows for comparisons of child’s engagement across different context the child participates in during its day in preschool. By observing the child’s engagement in relation to the context the child is in, this study aims to determine which contextual factors predict higher engagement of preschool children, with a special focus on children showing hyperactivity and inattention difficulties.
The aim of this study is to compare engagement in preschool activities between children high and low in hyperactivity, and to explore which contexts in preschool are related to higher engagement of children that show hyperactivity.
Strategies used to handle children who show challenging behaviour are often focused on managing the whole group instead of engaging the individual children in a way that helps him or her to participate in learning activities and makes most out of its time in preschool. Some of the strategies teachers use to support children in need of special support are being responsive to the child, supporting the child in play with other children, providing language support and staying in close proximity to the child so that they can monitor the child closely and be quick to prevent or correct unwanted behaviours (Almqvist, Sjöman, Golsäter, & Granlund, 2018).
Is hyperactivity level a significant predictor of observed engagement?
Are children high in hyperactivity more or less likely to be in teacher’s proximity and to be verbally interacting with peers and teachers?
Is teachers’ proximity related to higher engagement of children, in relation to children’s hyperactivity level?
Do interactions with teacher and peers predict engagement of children, in relation to children’s hyperactivity level?
Observational and survey data for this study is available from two larger research projects: Early Detection Early Intervention (TUTI [Tidig upptäckt – tidig insats]; Granlund et al., 2015) and Participation and Engagement in Preschool International (PEPI; Björck, 2014). After excluding the participants with incomplete data and a low number of observations total sample size is 372 children, 196 boys and 176 girls with mean age of 54 months (M=54.41, SD=10.04) at the time of data collection. They were from 70 different preschool units across 12 Swedish municipalities. Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ; Goodman 1997) is a brief questionnaire for screening mental health problems of children and youths. For this study, preschool teachers assessed children with SDQ, and in the analysis, only the hyperactivity/inattention scale of SDQ was used. The scale captures the three key symptom domains of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder as described in DSM-V: inattention (two items), hyperactivity (two items), and impulsiveness (one item). Child Observation in Preschool (COP) (Farran & Anthony, 2014) is a method of observing behaviours of children in preschool classrooms by identifying a child, monitoring its behaviour for a period of 3 seconds and coding the observation on the electronical protocol consisting of eleven dimensions. The procedure is repeated for every child in the group. First collection of observations of everyone in the groups makes the first “sweep”, and when it’s accomplished, the procedure can be repeated. In this way it is possible to collect 20-30 “sweeps” during 4 hours of observations. Observations are coded on eleven dimensions, and in total there are 79 coding alternatives. For the current study dimensions Involvement, Verbal-to whom and Proximity will be included in the analysis. Involvement captures how involved children are in whatever activity they’re doing, on a scale from one to five, where one described a child who’s not involved in the activity and five describes a child whose involvement is high. Dimension Proximity refers to child’s environment and captures who is in the child’s proximity; the teacher, small group of children, whole group, small group of children and the teacher, whole group including the teacher or if the child is alone. Dimension Verbal-to whom captures who is the child in verbal interaction with.
Boys had a significantly higher hyperactivity score than girls. Older age was related to higher observed involvement. Younger children were more likely to be in the teacher’s proximity while older children were more likely to be in the proximity of other children. Hyperactivity score was not related to the total proportion of time child was in teacher’s proximity, but it was a significant predictor of proportion of time being alone in teacher’s proximity. Spending more time in the proximity of another child, in a small group of children, or in a whole group together with a teacher, was related to higher average involvement level. Correlation between teacher’s proximity and lower involvement of children may be partly explained by children’s age; teachers are more likely to be in proximity of younger children and younger children were perceived by the observers as less engaged. Even though children high in hyperactivity were perceived by their teachers as less engaged in preschool activities, hyperactivity level was not a significant predictor of involvement observed by researchers. In general, children were more engaged when they were in proximity and interacting with other children than when they were in proximity and verbally interacting with a teacher. This trend was noticed for all children, regardless of the hyperactivity level. Engagement assessed by survey and involvement level observed by researchers were in a low positive correlation, which indicates that these two measures might be assessing partly different constructs. While researchers only assessed the level of child’s involvement in certain moments, teachers might be more concerned with contextual appropriateness and have a more holistic picture of child’s behavior when evaluating its engagement.
Almqvist, L., Sjöman, M., Golsäter, M., & Granlund, M. (2018). Special Support for Behavior Difficulties and Engagement in Swedish Preschools. Frontiers in Education, 3(May), 1–14. https://doi.org/10.3389/feduc.2018.00035 Bronfenbrenner, U., & Ceci, S. J. (1994). Nature-nuture reconceptualized in developmental perspective: A bioecological model. Psychological Review, 101(4), 568–586. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.101.4.568 De Kruif, R. E. L., & McWilliam, R. A. (1999). Multivariate relationships among developmental age, global engagement, and observed child engagement. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 14(4), 515–536. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0885-2006(99)00028-9 European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education. (2016). Inclusive Early Childhood Education An analysis of 32 European examples. Farran, D., and Anthony, K. (2014). Child Observation in Preschool. Nashville, TN: Peabody Research Institute, Vanderbilt University. [Unpublished manual] Goodman, R. (1997). The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire: A Research Note. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 38, 581-586. Imms, C., Granlund, M., Wilson, P. H., Steenbergen, B., Rosenbaum, P. L., & Gordon, A. M. (2017). Participation, both a means and an end: a conceptual analysis of processes and outcomes in childhood disability. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 59(1), 16–25. https://doi.org/10.1111/dmcn.13237 Maher Ridley, S., McWilliam, R. A., & Oates, C. S. (2000). Observed Engagement as an Indicator of Child Care Program Quality. Early Education & Development, 11(2), 133–146. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15566935eed1102 Shonkoff, J. P., & Phillips, D. A. (2000). From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development. (J. P. Shonkoff & A. Phillips, Deborah, Eds.). National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/661 Searle, A. K., Miller- Lewis, L. R., Sawyer, M. G., & Baghurst, P. A. (2013). Predictors of Children ’ s Kindergarten Classroom Engagement : Preschool Adult – Child Relationships , Self-Concept , and Hyperactivity / Inattention. Early Education and Development, 24(8), 1112–1136. https://doi.org/10.1080/10409289.2013.764223 Sinclair, M. F., Christenson, S. L., Lehr, C. A., & Reschly, A. L. (2003). Facilitating student engagement: Lessons learned from Check & Connect longitudinal studies. The California School Psychologist, 8, 29–41. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03340894 Sjöman, M., Granlund, M., & Almqvist, L. (2016). Interaction processes as a mediating factor between children’s externalized behaviour difficulties and engagement in preschool. Early Child Development and Care, 186(10), 1649–1663. https://doi.org/10.1080/03004430.2015.1121251 Skinner, E. A., Kindermann, T. A., & Furrer, C. J. (2009). A Motivational Perspective on Engagement and Disaffection. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 69(3), 493–525. https://doi.org/10.1177/0013164408323233
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