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Preschool Experience, School Readiness, Self-Regulation, and Academic Achievement

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Preschool Experience, School Readiness, Self-Regulation, and Academic Achievement

A Longitudinal Study in Rural China



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Preschool Experience, School Readiness, Self-Regulation, and Academic Achievement by Li Zhang
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This dissertation, "Preschool Experience, School Readiness, Self-regulation, and Academic Achievement: a Longitudinal Study in Rural China" by Li, Zhang, 张莉, was obtained from The University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong) and is being sold pursuant to Creative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License. The content of this dissertation has not been altered in any way. We have altered the formatting in order to facilitate the ease of printing and reading of the dissertation. All rights not granted by the above license are retained by the author. Abstract: Research indicates that preschool experience significantly influences child development and this study examined the influence of preschool learning experiences on children's school readiness, self-regulation and academic achievement. Participants were 190 children from an impoverished county in Southwest China and their teachers. Classroom observations were conducted and children were assessed in individual and group sessions. There were three different types of preschool programs (kindergartens, pre-primary classes; Grade 1) available in the county. A total of 18 teaching episodes provided in either the kindergarten or primary schools to 164 children were videotaped and analyzed. Results indicated marked variations in preschool quality and pedagogical practices to support children's self-regulation across programs. Kindergartens had the best physical environments, the most resources and highly qualified teachers. The teachers provided children with meaningful learning opportunities, adequate instructions, clear structure and predictability, and diversified instructional formats. Pre-primary classes had limited resources and unqualified teachers who emphasized academic learning. Compared to kindergarten teachers, pre-primary class teachers prepared fewer activities and frequently required children to simply sit still and listen. Preschool age children who merely "sat in" Grade 1 classrooms were typically neglected by teachers and only received attention from the teacher when they were disruptive. Grade 1 children (89 girls) who had attended kindergarten (n = 60), separate pre-primary classes (n = 55), merely "sat in" Grade 1 classes before being formally enrolled in school (n = 54) or had no preschool experience (n = 21) were assessed at the beginning of Grade 1 (Wave 1), at the end of Grade 1 (Wave 2), and at the end of Grade 2 (Wave 3). Their school readiness was assessed in Wave 1. Their self-regulation skills were assessed using the modified Head-Toes-Knees-Shoulders task in Waves 1 and 2, and seven cognitive regulation tests in Wave 3. Their literacy and mathematics achievement was evaluated using curriculum-based tests across the three waves. Results indicated that children with some form of preschool experience outperformed those with none in almost all the three outcomes across the three waves. Children from the kindergarten had better school readiness than the other three groups and better self-regulation than those attending separate pre-primary classes at the start of school. Children attending separate pre-primary classes had significantly better literacy and mathematics than those from the kindergarten at the start of school and literacy at the end of Grade 2. Children "sitting in" Grade 1 classes achieved lower scores than those from the kindergarten and pre-primary classes on almost all child outcome measures. The growth of self-regulation within the first primary school year was significant and Wave 1 behavioral regulation predicted Wave 3 cognitive regulation. School readiness and self-regulation significantly predicted academic achievement in all three waves and school readiness mediated the close relationship between self-regulation and academic achievement. Findings highlight the importance of (i) preschool experience for children from economically disadvantaged families in rural China; and (ii) self-regulation in school prepa.
Release date NZ
January 26th, 2017
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Country of Publication
United States
colour illustrations
Open Dissertation Press
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