Defense Date


Graduation Date

Spring 2008


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Clinical Psychology


McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Kara E. McGoey

Committee Member

Jeffrey A. Miller

Committee Member

Stephen J. Bagnato


classroom quality, early childhood, learning behaviors, preschool, preschool quality


The intelligence quotient (IQ) continues to dominate educational decision-making although it lacks descriptive quality indicative of how children learn best and precisely what contributes to learning differences among children. Researchers have advocated for the use of alternative assessment methods to describe differences in children's learning. Limited research has been conducted in this area yet is supportive of learning behavior as an influential factor associated with scholastic achievement. Unfortunately, little research has been conducted on preschool learning behaviors, despite their link to positive child outcomes. Early childhood environments have similarly been linked to children's scholastic success and positive outcomes.

This study examined the relationships between early childhood program quality, preschool learning behaviors, and early scholastic achievement among 123 preschool aged children enrolled in high, medium and low quality early childhood programs in western Pennsylvania. The Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale -- Revised (ECERS-R) was used to evaluate program quality, while preschool learning behavior was assessed by the teacher completed Preschool Learning Behaviors Scale (PLBS). The Basic School Skills Inventory-Third Edition (BSSI-3) was utilized to assess child competencies across the academic domains of reading, writing, mathematics, and spoken language. Additional measures were utilized to determine convergent validity for the PLBS. Analyses sought to verify the factor structure and validity of the PLBS, and to determine whether children participating in programs of varying quality differed in learning behavior development and scholastic achievement. Regression analyses were employed to determine which classroom quality factors were predictive of learning behavior. The potential mediating effect of learning behavior on the classroom quality-scholastic outcome relationship was also tested.

Results of the study provide support for the validity of the PLBS, however results of factor analyses did not comport with previous findings. Results indicated that children participating in classrooms of various quality did not significantly differ in the quality of their learning behavior. However, significant differences were found among quality groups across areas of early scholastic achievement. Regression analyses indicated that two ECERS-R factors were predictive of learning behavior, and that preschool learning behavior had no mediating effect on the quality-achievement relationship. Suggestions for future research are provided.