Using an ecological model, this study explored the effects of distal and proximal sources of influence on students' learning. We first examined three markers of teacher qualification - elementary education credential, years of education, and years of experience - on observed classroom practices across three dimensions - warmth/responsivity, control/discipline, and time spent on academic activities - as they related to children's vocabulary and early reading skills. We then examined the impact of this core system embedded in a larger system that included children's vocabulary and word recognition skills prior to school entry, their home and preschool learning environments, and family SES. Results, using structural equation modeling, revealed that students whose teachers were more warm and responsive and who spent more time in academic activities demonstrated stronger vocabulary and decoding skills at the end of first grade. Teachers with more years of education interacted with students more responsively but, surprisingly, their students had weaker early reading skills. Overall, students' language and letter-word recognition scores when they were 54 months of age, their home learning environment and family SES accounted for most of the variability in vocabulary and early reading scores at the end of first grade. Implications of the multiple and concurrent sources of influence on students' language and literacy development are discussed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology