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Early Childhood Summit

Research Presentations

CYFS faculty affiliates presented early childhood research projects related to early learning and development, family engagement, professional development, and the economic impacts of early intervention.

Sessions included two brief presentations on related research topics, with subsequent small-group discussions giving attendees the opportunity to address connections among research, practice and policy.

Concurrent Session I

Early Language and Literacy Development for Children in Preschool Settings: What is the Role of Family?
This session included findings from two studies related to classroom practices and family engagement as supports for children's language and literacy development. Results from the Early Reading First program that was implemented in central Nebraska were shared; findings indicated the value of family-focused programming. Additionally, findings were presented from a follow-up, in-depth study that included qualitative interviews conducted with Latino families to investigate how the quality and quantity of parents' beliefs and engagement in an Early Reading First project evolve into home literacy practices.
Sandra Plata-Potter, MA
Head Start Graduate Student Scholar
Graduate Student Affiliate
Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools
University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Promoting Early Language/Literacy: Development of a Tiered Family Engagement Approach
The Pre3T model is a multi-tiered approach to addressing early language and literacy needs of young children at risk for reading difficulties. This model is founded on data-based instructional decision-making and differential implementation of evidence-based language and literacy interventions, of which family engagement is a critical component. Development of the tiered family engagement strategies used in the Pre3T model was discussed, and preliminary results of the development process were shared.
Brandy Clarke, PhD, LP
Research Assistant Professor
Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools
University of Nebraska - Lincoln

The Influence of Natural Environments on Children's Cognitive Functioning
Recently, there has been increased interest in the influence of natural environments on development. Recent research has focused on the restorative effects of nature on children's attention and cognition. Investigations with adults and children have documented restorative aspects of nature, and studies have found that children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder showed enhanced attention on subsequent tasks after a 20-minute walk in a park. This presentation discussed ongoing research on the influence of natural environments on children's cognition and implications for the environments to which children are exposed.
Anne Schutte, PhD
Associate Professor of Psychology
University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Sleep Habits and Cognitive Development
The preschool and early school-age period is a time when important cognitive skills are developing, such as attention and decision-making processes needed for academic achievement and the inhibitory and self-regulation behavioral controls necessary for social-emotional growth. Research has established a link between the development of these skills and children's sleep habits. Findings from our research and the next steps in investigating toddler sleep habits were described.
Victoria Molfese, PhD
Chancellor's Professor of Child, Youth and Family Studies
University of Nebraska - Lincoln
Dennis Molfese, PhD
Chancellor's Professor of Psychology
Director of the Brain Imaging Center
Director of the Developmental Neuroscience Laboratory
University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Nebraska Early Childhood Education Program: What is its Impact on Children and Families?
An increasing number of young children are being served through the Nebraska Early Childhood Education (ECE) Program. This presentation provided an overview of the child, family and program outcomes for the children ages birth-5 who are served in this program. New efforts to create a longitudinal data system that links early child outcomes with school-age academic performance were also described.
Barbara Jackson, PhD
Associate Professor of Pediatrics
Director of the Department of Education and Child Development, Munroe-Meyer Institute
Director of the Interdisciplinary Center for Program Evaluation (ICPE)
University of Nebraska Medical Center

Thresholds of Child Care Quality and Children's Development: Linear and Non-Linear Models
This study examined linear and non-linear models to determine whether thresholds of child care quality necessary to positively and optimally impact children's development could be identified using two large data sets with indicators of child care quality and children's development. Results indicated that many associations between quality and children's development are non-linear – providing evidence for thresholds or "sensitive ranges" of quality for some developmental outcomes – while others are best represented by linear models. Implications for research and practice were discussed.
Julia Torquati, PhD
Associate Professor of Child, Youth and Family Studies
University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Educare of Omaha Coaching and Mentoring: Impacts on Classroom Quality
The Educare Coaching and Mentoring intervention focused on supporting Head Start teachers in improving classroom quality. This session shared the results of an investigation of the intervention on classroom quality as measured by the Pre-K CLASS. Findings revealed that, through the intervention, teaching teams improved in organization, emotional climate and instructional support in a relatively short period of time.
Lisa St. Clair, EdD
Assistant Professor of Education and Pediatrics
Nebraska PIRC Director
University of Nebraska Medical Center
Gladys Haynes, PhD
Executive Director of the Educare Center of Omaha
Director of Nebraska Early Learning Initiatives
Buffett Early Childhood Fund

Early Childhood Coaching in Nebraska: What Behaviors Characterize the Interactions in Coach/Coachee Dyads?
Coaching as a form of professional development in early childhood settings is increasingly being incorporated into training efforts. This presentation highlighted findings from the evaluation of coach training efforts across a variety of early childhood settings in Nebraska. Findings regarding the observed behaviors of coach/coachee dyadic pairs during coaching interactions were shared, including information on the association of factors such as coach-coachee education/experience, relationship and work satisfaction. Implications for providing ongoing support and training to early childhood coaches were discussed.
Lisa Knoche, PhD
Research Associate Professor
Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools
University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Concurrent Session II

Getting Ready at Home: The Effects of Promoting Parent Engagement in Early Childhood Programs
The Getting Ready intervention focuses on supporting parents as meaningful partners in promoting school readiness of young children living in impoverished conditions. Through efforts of early childhood professionals in Head Start and Early Head Start, parents are guided to interact with their children in ways that are warm, nurturing and supportive of early learning and development. This presentation described the Getting Ready model in detail; explored unique practical aspects demonstrated by early childhood professionals trained in its implementation; and presented results depicting its effects on parents interacting with their infants/toddlers. Group dialogue and exploration for applied settings were included.
Susan Sheridan, PhD
George Holmes University Professor of Educational Psychology
Director of the Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools
Director of the National Center for Research on Rural Education (R2Ed)
University of Nebraska - Lincoln
Christine Marvin, PhD
Associate Professor of Special Education and Communication Disorders
University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Early Steps to School Success: Save the Children's Language-Focused Program for Parents and Children in Predominantly Rural Communities
Early Steps to School Success (ESSS) is a home-visiting program offered predominantly in rural areas across the United States. ESSS focuses on parents and children ages 0-3, with follow-up enrollment in early childhood programs and a continued supply of books (the "Book Bag Exchange") offered until kindergarten. Sites in Nebraska are part of a national evaluation to determine effects of the program on children's language outcomes. Preliminary results show children's language outcomes approaching national averages, but the national evaluation will introduce a comparison group and track language outcomes for the kindergarten population at school entry.
Helen Raikes, PhD
Willa Cather Professor of Child, Youth and Family Studies
University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Preschoolers' Attitudes and Behavior Toward Peers with Disabilities in Inclusive Early Childhood Settings
This presentation shared results from a study of 94 preschoolers that examined three dimensions of children's attitudes (i.e., affective, cognitive and behavioral) toward their peers with disabilities. Children's cognitive attitudes toward people with disabilities were positively related to their affective attitudes and their prior experience. In addition, children were more likely to include peers with disabilities in their play (a) if the disability did not interfere with the ongoing activity and (b) when they had a better understanding about people with disabilities. Preliminary results from a follow-up study that examined preschoolers' behavior toward peers with disabilities and teacher behavior and talk were also shared.
Soo-Young Hong, PhD
Assistant Professor of Child, Youth and Family Studies
University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Children's Temperament in the Classroom
Children bring unique sets of temperamental characteristics, such as shyness and attention, to the classroom; these characteristics play a role in how children interact with teachers and peers. This presentation focused on the interplay of child temperament and classroom processes as they predict children's social and academic outcomes, and pointed to specific classroom processes that may optimize goodness of fit between children and the classroom environment.
Kathleen Moritz Rudasill, PhD
Associate Professor of Educational Psychology
University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Economic Analysis of Early Childhood Programs in Nebraska
The lasting benefit of early childhood programs on children and families is well-documented. Early childhood investments yield cost savings over the life course of children and families. This presentation highlighted a preliminary study that is investigating Nebraska-specific returns on investments in early childhood. A select sample of cost savings data was shared – including the rate of return on investment – and implications for policy discussions were also highlighted.
Eric Thompson, PhD
Associate Professor of Economics
Director of the Bureau of Business Research
University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Improving Math Education in Nebraska Primary Classrooms through Teacher Professional Development: The NebraskaMATH Project
This session provided a summary of Primarily Math, which is the early childhood component of NebraskaMATH, a math education improvement project. Highlights of early findings were presented, including the relationship between children's competency beliefs and math performance; the role of teacher professional development on leadership and beliefs about mathematics teaching; and the program's effects on family-school partnerships and communication.
Carolyn Pope Edwards, EdD
Willa Cather Professor of Child, Youth, and Family Studies and Psychology
University of Nebraska - Lincoln
Wendy Smith, PhD
Research Assistant Professor
Center for Science, Mathematics and Computer Education
University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Improving Reading and Listening Comprehension in PreK through Grade 3 Settings: Conceptual Bases of Language-Based Interventions
The Language and Reading Research Consortium (LARRC) was described. LARRC is a five-site, 14-investigator consortium funded by the Institute of Education Sciences' Reading for Understanding Initiative, the largest federally funded initiative to study literacy. LARRC's aims are to better understand the language bases of reading; create language-based reading comprehension classroom interventions for grades pre-K through 3; and test the effectiveness of these interventions. Preliminary data was presented with a focus on future implications.
Tiffany Hogan, PhD
Assistant Professor of Special Education and Communication Disorders
Director of Link N Literacy Lab: Linking Language & Literacy
University of Nebraska - Lincoln

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need additional information,
please contact CYFS.
Link  cyfs@unl.edu
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