Social-emotional learning is a primary focus area in many publicly funded preschool programs, with increased emphasis placed on this school readiness domain because of the social isolation from peers that many young children have experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose of this project is to establish the psychometric feature and instrument useability of a practitioner-administered observer impression scale assessment of preschool children’s peer-related social competence.
The Teacher Impression Scale (TIS) is an observer rating scale that teachers will be able to use in their classrooms to document the strengths that many children may possess in peer social competence, locate children in their classes who may be in need of more support for being socially engaged with their peers (i.e., children need Tier 2 supports in a Multi-Tiered Systems of Support-MTSS model), and monitor progress when additional support is provided to those children.
The research team will revise an observer impression scale to assess peer social competence of preschool children, establish the psychometric evidence of reliability and validity, and determine its usability for teachers in early learning programs in the U.S. This project will employ classical measurement theory and an iterative process for instrument development. Phase 1 of this project will focus on content validity, cultural and ethnic appropriateness of items, and instrumentation that would allow for online data collection. Phase 2 of the project will involve large-scale data collection that will allow instrument modification, confirmatory factor analysis, and evaluation of useability. Phase 3 of the project will examine criterion-related validity, utility as a progress monitoring tool, interactions of child and rater demographic characteristics, and scalability. At the end of this project, a fully developed, psychometrically verified, and practical assessment of preschool children’s peer social competence, suitable for scaling up for program use, will be available to early childhood programs and practitioners.
The study will take place in Head Start and state pre-K programs in North Carolina and southern California. We anticipate that there will be a mix of urban, suburban, small town, and rural locations for these programs and the communities in which they are situated will be racially, ethnically, linguistically, and culturally diverse.
By the end of the project, a fully developed TIS with strong evidence of reliability, validity, and useability will be available for teachers in early learning classes along with a brief, 30-minute introduction to procedures for data collection and use of the data once collected.