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ePALS

Full project title: Internet Implementation of Empirically-Supported Interventions that can be Remotely Delivered in Authentic Preschool Programs for Mothers and Teachers: Evaluation of Direct Child and Teacher Outcomes

Abstract

This project is a Goal 3 Intervention that can be implemented in authentic education delivery programs with evidence of feasibility and usability. The replication project is unique in that it examines how a more accessible training delivery mechanism for two evidence–based school and home pre-kindergarten interventions affects adults’ skill acquisition and child outcomes. By replicating an IES efficacy study of interventions that provide training in responsiveness skills and cognitive instructional approaches specific to both school and home settings, we will ascertain if lower cost, web-based models can produce similar effects of practical importance when compared to our previous studies with face-to-face training and coaching.

We will examine if the combination of the proven interventions using web-based delivery models, one in the classroom (The Early Education Model, eTEEM) and one for parents (Play & Learning Strategies, ePALS), results in a synergistic vs. additive effect on school readiness skills and early Kindergarten skills. It is expected that the effectiveness of the combined interventions will result in greater child self-regulation, executive processes, language, social and early literacy skills. Gains in teacher and parents’ behaviors will mediate the impact of both interventions on children’s school readiness skills.

The study will be conducted in three Head Start agencies in Houston, TX in classrooms that serve 4 year old children. Given that > 50% of the children will be from Hispanic backgrounds, ePALS will be conducted in the home language and ELL children will be tested in both languages. Across the first 3 years of the proposed 4 year project, 60 classrooms (20/year) will be recruited and randomized to receive eTEEM vs “business as usual” practices (control condition). Within each classroom, informed consent to participate in ePALS will be requested from parents of all children. Of those consented, six will be randomly selected, with three
randomly assigned to ePALS and three to a no-parent program.

eTEEM makes extensive use of video examples of instructional practices with remote coaching support, teachers critiquing videos of their instructional behaviors, and training in the use of a PDA progress monitoring system that provides feedback to inform teachers’ practices. This is combined with training in responsive interactive behaviors integrated with the language and literacy content, effective use of small group instruction, organization of the learning environment to provide repeated exposure to concepts in ways that best build concepts, and a balance of teacher vs. child directed learning.

The ePALS coaches support parents remotely in combination with the web-based ePALS curriculum sessions to develop a set of core behaviors that together comprise a responsive interactive style including responses that are contingent to children’s needs and interests with rich language input. ePALS incorporates video examples of the target behaviors, uploaded videotaped interactions of parents with their children, and parents critiquing videotapes of their interactions with their coach remotely.

With a pre and post design, a well-validated and reliable observation classroom observation scale (Teacher Behavior Rating Scale) will assess change in eTEEM vs. control teachers’ responsive and instructional behaviors. Parents’ gains in responsive behaviors will be examined with validated observational measures. Intervention effects on children’s skills will be evaluated with standardized, observational, and parent and teacher rating measures. The study incorporates a two (teacher professional development condition) by two (parent intervention condition) by two (time) design with repeated measures on time with the data analyzed using a mixed model analysis of covariance approach.

 

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