Publication Date

Summer 2019

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Elizabeth Lemerise (Director), Amy Brausch, Diane Lickenbrock


Across the nation, Head Start is evaluated using the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS, LaParo, Pianta, & Stuhlman, 2004). From past research, we know that classrooms that serve low income children score very low in the concept development and quality of feedback scales on the CLASS measure (e.g., Early et al., 2005). In order to address these deficits, a book-reading focused, teacher training intervention was conducted at a combined Head Start and university child care center. In our previous work, we found that in a structured book reading task, teacher training was effective in increasing the use of cognitively challenging talk (Lipp, 2016).

The purpose of this project was to evaluate the cognitive complexity of teacher discourse in two preschool classroom contexts: a) book-reading, and b) center-time. Results indicated that teachers use more cognitively complex language during bookreading than center-time. In addition, results suggest that teachers did not generalize the training to the center-time context. In order to delve deeper into context-specific differences, teacher highest level of instruction and child engagement were coded. Results indicated that teacher highest level of instruction predicted child engagement during the book-reading context only. Future work is needed to evaluate mechanisms of teacher training that promote improvements across contexts.

Degree Program

Department of Psychological Sciences

Degree Type

Master of Science


Child Psychology | Early Childhood Education | Pre-Elementary, Early Childhood, Kindergarten Teacher Education | Teacher Education and Professional Development