November 28, 2017
Honors Thesis Review
Megan M. Servick, author of the senior honors thesis “Multi-Faceted Learning Environments: A Study of Preschool Development”, studied various factors acting upon a preschool aged child’s life. She began by expressing the importance of solid, positive educational experiences early in a child’s life. She referenced a broad array of studies that confirmed the benefits of educationally based programs early in life, rather than those such as day-cares that provide little to no academic enrichment. These studies showed that such early experiences allow for better academic achievement later on. Further, she related that individuals with a higher education fare better in wages and unemployment rates than those who have received less education. She then continued with statistics relating to an increase of women in the workforce, which is projected to continue increasing at a steady rate, and suggested a possible correlation with children’s life outcomes. The thesis also stressed the effect that teachers and parents had upon a child’s early upbringing, as these individuals spend the most time and consequently have the most impact in the early lives of children.
After affirming the importance of early-childhood education, many government programs are included that deal with enhancing preschool learning. In this thesis, she focused on a specific program in Ohio known as Step up to Quality (SUTQ). This voluntary program deals with improvements in child to staff ratio, staff education, and other practices and curriculum components. Specifically, the study focused on the effects of home and family environment on preschoolers’ education. On a different route, it also hoped to examine how teacher’s backgrounds influence their ideas about children.
Within the SUTQ program, 300 program directors, 600 teachers chosen randomly from 2 classrooms per director, and every parent within these classrooms (totaling a maximum of 15,000 students) were asked to complete questionnaires over a two-year period. Then, out of 40 other classrooms, 5 students per class were selected to be directly observed and assessed, for a total of 200 children. The majority of teacher and parent responders were female, while the majority of students selected were male. The program directors offered information on topics such as program structure, student demographics, and parental involvement. Teachers were asked to provide information on their age and beliefs in teaching methods. Parents provided home and familial background information. The children were tested on a variety of subjects including behavior, language skills, and reading concepts.
The results showed that order levels in home environments were positively correlated to family incomes and a mother’s participation in a standard work week. Those with a more standard work week also had a higher amount of home order. Home order was directly linked to child outcomes, as a greater level of home order resulted in higher language and cognitive skills. For teachers, age did not correlate with traditional teaching methods. However, the amount of education attained directly impacted teaching strategies. As individuals attained a higher degree, they became more progressive in their ideology.
This study attempted to provide information upon two similar, yet different topics. The first was the effect of home and family on a child’s life, and the second dealt with teacher’s characteristics and the effect this had on their views of children. In the future, a more similar addition might be the effect of teacher’s characteristics on a child’s life, in order to have a greater connection between topics analyzed. Additionally, she consistently mentioned “home order” without defining the meaning, leaving a huge gap in her conclusions and data. “Home Order” is open to numerous interpretations. In the future, I would like to maintain the basics of this study, but to focus it more upon how different factors directly affect preschool age children. That seemed to be her initial focus, but it soon faltered and stemmed into many other conclusions and data which did not pertain to her goal. As for the teacher portion of the study, the goals were to find how teacher characteristics related to their ideas of children. Yet, the conclusions on this part dealt with the relation of teacher characteristics to teaching methods instead.
Not only could this same study be conducted in a more focused manner, with clear goals and data used to draw logical conclusions, but many other research topics could stem from this study. Effects of socioeconomic status on a child, effects of teacher characteristics in relation to performance, and many other topics briefly mentioned in this paper could be used as an entire study of their own. While this study does not clearly result in definitive answers or knowledge, it provides the opportunity and inspiration for many other future research topics. In this way, it is incredibly valuable to prospective researchers.