Early Childhood Preservice Teachers' Use of Verbal and Non-Verbal Guidance Strategies Across Classroom Contexts
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Early Childhood Preservice Teachers'Use of Verbal and Non-Verbal GuidanceStrategies Across Classroom ContextsLori A. Caudle a , Min-Jung Jung b , Hillary N. Fouts b & Heather S.Wallace ca Department of Human Services , Western Carolina Universityb Department of Child and Family Studies , The University ofTennesseec Centerstone Research InstitutePublished online: 08 Jan 2014.
To cite this article: Lori A. Caudle , Min-Jung Jung , Hillary N. Fouts & Heather S. Wallace (2014)Early Childhood Preservice Teachers' Use of Verbal and Non-Verbal Guidance Strategies AcrossClassroom Contexts, The Teacher Educator, 49:1, 61-74, DOI: 10.1080/08878730.2013.848004
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08878730.2013.848004
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The Teacher Educator, 49:6174, 2014
Copyright Taylor & Francis Group, LLCISSN: 0887-8730 print/1938-8101 online
EARLY CHILDHOOD PRESERVICE TEACHERS USE OF VERBAL AND
NON-VERBAL GUIDANCE STRATEGIES ACROSS CLASSROOM CONTEXTS
LORI A. CAUDLE
Department of Human Services, Western Carolina University
MIN-JUNG JUNG and HILLARY N. FOUTS
Department of Child and Family Studies, The University of Tennessee
HEATHER S. WALLACE
Centerstone Research Institute
Observations of preservice teachers often lack information about specific strategies they use when guidingchildrens behavior. This study investigated how preservice teachers used verbal and non-verbal behavior
modification techniques within structured and transition classroom contexts. Using an on-the-mark 20-
second observe and 10-second record method, eleven preservice teachers were observed in classrooms fortwo morning hours. A repeated measures MANOVA revealed two significant two-way interactions,
which included types of modification techniques and types of contexts (Wilkss D .38, F(2, 9) D
7.37, p . .05, Cohens f D .88) and types of communication skills and types of contexts (Wilkss D .64, F(1, 10) D 5.53, p . .05, Cohens f D .74). Implications for future research and practice
include more focused observations of preservice teachers and childrens responses to various verbal and
non-verbal strategies along with more education about how to use positive guidance strategies in real-lifeclassroom situations.
Implementing positive guidance techniques with young children remains a challenge forpreservice teachers (Oral, 2012). In this study, preservice teachers are defined as noviceteachers enrolled in a teacher preparation program who are engaged in student teaching orinternship experiences. Guidance techniques are verbal and non-verbal strategies used bypreservice teachers with the intent to either prevent or respond to childrens behaviors andto maintain a classroom environment conducive to learning. Within classrooms, preserviceteachers are faced with making countless behavior management decisions in order todevelop effective learning environments for children. Understanding and handling thecomplexities of classroom management, which includes behavior management, is no minoraccomplishment (Martin, 2004). Next to poor salaries, discipline problems are known to
Address correspondence to Lori A. Caudle, Ph.D., Western Carolina University, 91 Killian Bldg., Ln. Rm.218C, Cullowhee, NC 28723, USA. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
62 L. A. Caudle et al.
be a major reason why beginning teachers leave the field dissatisfied (Ingersoll & Smith,2003). Therefore, the experiences preservice teachers gain in classrooms while still underthe umbrella of teacher preparation programs helps them acquire professional skills anddecrease anxieties related to behavior management (Oral, 2012).
Review of Literature
There are two main contexts, transitions and structured times, in which preservice teachersspend most of their time with children. In these contexts, preservice teachers use a varietyof verbal and non-verbal modification techniques to encourage children to adhere toclassroom and school rules. For the purpose of this study, structured times are defined asany educational time when children are not in transition between activities or following aseries of routines. Transition times include moving between activities inside or outside theclassrooms and daily routines, such as hand-washing, cleaning up, and restroom breaks.
Transition times are especially challenging for preservice teachers because they pro-vide more opportunities for children to make inappropriate choices (Gump, 1969). Dueto limited experiences, preservice teachers may overlook planning for transition times,expecting young children to wait excessively before moving to the next activity, whichcan be a stressful experience for young children (Ostrosky, Jung, & Hemmeter, 2002).Preservice teachers should minimize the stress of transitions by giving explicit instructions,providing clear behavioral expectations, and using consistent, predictable routines (McIn-tosh, Herman, Sanford, McGraw, & Florence, 2004).
During structured times, preservice teachers usually teach planned lessons in small orlarge group formats, or allow children to explore the classroom environment and materialswith academic and social goals in mind. Within these structured classroom contexts,preservice teachers are compelled to implement a series of engagement strategies to keepchildrens attention. Maintaining attention during activities, especially large groups, is oneof the most frequent behavioral issues among young children (Godfrey, Grisham-Brown,Schuster, & Hemmeter, 2003). Yet, we repeatedly see large group formats being over-usedin many early childhood classrooms (Hardy, 1993; Pianta, LaParo, Payne, Cox, & Bradley,2002).
A review of the literature on preservice teachers use of guidance techniques revealedpressing concerns for preservice teachers to adopt successful behavior management tech-niques while still maintaining positive learning environments (McKie, Butty, & Green,2012; Stoughton, 2007). Although preservice teachers are encouraged to create positiveclassroom climates, there is little research that provides evidence of the types of guidancestrategies they use on a typical school day (Martin, 2004). Without this information, it isdifficult to identify key areas in which they can improve their practice. Some researchersare even doubtful that preservice teachers can successfully learn classroom managementroutines in their teacher preparation programs (Hollingsworth, 1989).
Even though there is little understanding about how preservice teachers are educatedto create positive environments, it is evident that preservice teachers encounter many
Verbal and Non-Verbal Guidance Strategies 63
conflicting views in their practicum experiences. Preservice teachers feel that behaviormanagement is integrated into the classroom culture and based on the ethical values ofteachers, but sometimes struggle with the individual needs of children while maintainingan institutional need for order (Stoughton, 2007).
Within the classroom culture are a series of routines, which often include transitions.Successful transitions include teaching routines, precorrections, positive reinforcementprocedures, and active supervision (McIntosh et al., 2004). Implementing smooth tran-sitions allows children to be engaged in academic tasks for longer periods and reducesbehavioral problems (Lee, 2006; McIntosh et al., 2004; Ostrosky et al., 2002).
While using guidance techniques, preservice teachers are required to make deci-sions about how they will respond to inappropriate behavior. Unfortunately, teachersrespond more often to inappropriate than prosocial behavior, taking almost a reactiverather than a proactive approach (Beaman & Wheldall, 2000). Oftentimes, teachers donot take advantage of opportunities to praise children for appropriate behaviors as abehavioral management technique (Beaman & Wheldall, 2000). When considering the useof behavior management interventions and external rewards to encourage positive studentbehavior, the amount of observed inappropriate behaviors in preschool classrooms havebeen shown to decrease when teachers adopt specific behavioral management strategies.These strategies included response cost, stimulating rewards, strategic attention, and wholeclass economy (Filcheck, McNeil, Greco, & Bernard, 2004).
Research reveals as preservice teachers gain more experiences in the field, theyare developing professionally as teachers and become more able to deal with behaviorproblems (Byra & Sherman, 1993; Kagan, 1992). Less experienced preservice teachers havebeen known to not diverge from their planned routines, even when they have been provenunsuccessful and poorly executed (Byra & Sherman, 1993). On the other hand, moreexperienced preservice teachers typically implement new routines to solve the problemsand engaged in more procedural decision-making (Byra & Sherman, 1993).
Observing and assessing the guidance strategies of preservice teachers is particularly impor-tant given their state of continued training and learning. In other words, time still remainsfor others to positively influence the behaviors and methods of these preservice teachersso that, as they transition to inservice teaching, their guidance strategies will be morerefined and positively impact classroom quality. Taking a closer look at the types of studiesconducted about preservice teachers guidance techniques, there is a need for researchersto use more naturalistic observations to describe preservice teachers behaviors (Everhart& Vaugh, 2005; Kagan, 1992; Martin, 2004). Naturalistic observations are characterized byobserving participants in their real-life settings during their normal ongoing routinesand making efforts to not disturb participants typical behavior.
Frequently, global measures of quality are used to assess caregiving and school envi-ronments, but many of these result in broad assessments that fail to explore the nuances ofteachers behaviors evident in everyday interactions (Friedman & Amadeo, 1999). Globalmeasures are designed to provide a comprehensive assessment of quality, and resultingscores are frequently used in conjunction with funding allocation for early childhoodprograms and centers. These types of measures often evaluate teachers behaviors ratherthan describe them (LoCasale-Crouch et al., 2007). Therefore, using global measures in
64 L. A. Caudle et al.
combination with observation protocols that study behaviors may provide more accurateaccounts of childrens experiences in classrooms (Pianta et al., 2002).
Additionally, there are concerns about the validity and reliability of the ways in whichpreservice teachers are evaluated by university supervisors (Sandholtz & Shea, 2012). Be-yond university supervisors and cooperating teachers evaluations, observations of preser-vice teachers behaviors in the classroom context are limited, with naturalistic observationsnearly non-existent (Morrell, Wainwright, & Flick, 2004). Therefore, using naturalisticobservations, as evidenced in this study, to obtain detailed information about preserviceteachers typical guidance behaviors in the classroom is especially warranted.
Purpose of the Study
Taking a closer look at the types of studies conducted about preservice teachers guidancetechniques, there was a need for more descriptive accounts of their interactions withchildren (Everhart & Vaugh, 2005; Kagan, 1992; Martin, 2004). This exploratory studysought to investigate the following research questions: (1) To what extent and how dopreservice teachers use verbal and non-verbal behavior modification techniques in struc-tured and transition contexts? and (2) How do behavior modification techniques differby context? Based on initial observational field notes and a review of the literature, itwas hypothesized preservice teachers would use more positive behavior modification tech-niques during structured classroom times. It was also expected that negative modificationtechniques would not be observed, or used very rarely, in the classrooms by the preserviceteachers. This was because participants were drawn from two teacher preparation programsthat provided them with extensive opportunities to observe, learn, and practice positiveguidance strategies across their years in the programs, particularly through participationin the university lab school. In the event that negative modification strategies were used,it was anticipated these would occur more during transition times, which have the poten-tial to be more stressful than structured classroom times (Gump, 1969; Ostrosky et al.,2002).
The participants for this study were preservice teachers enrolled in two early childhoodeducation licensure programs at a large Southeastern university. Preservice teachers weredefined as undergr...