Effects of inservice training on length of teacher-child turn-taking conversations and types of questions with low-income preschoolers

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Child and Family Studies


Alice Sterling Honig


Teacher-child interactions, Inservice, Low-income, Preschoolers

Subject Categories

Educational Sociology | Interpersonal and Small Group Communication | Pre-Elementary, Early Childhood, Kindergarten Teacher Education


This study was designed to explore the effects of an intensive, single-session, inservice training on the length of turn-taking conversations and types of questions teachers use with low-income preschoolers. Currently, the workshop format is used by many types of early childhood programs in an effort to enhance quality. Single session workshops are frequently used to fulfill training requirements for day care licensure, Head Start inservice training, and are a common training format at national, state, and local early childhood conferences. The effect of the teacher's preexisting level of education and level of early childhood training on the length of their conversations with young children and on the type of questions they asked were also studied.

Forty-two preschool teachers participated in the study. Pairs of teachers were matched prior to training on: age, formal education, years of experience working with young children, college training in child development/early childhood education and number of hours of prior inservice training, and were assigned to the experimental group ( n = 21) or the contrast group ( n = 21). Teacher-child interactions were observed in the classroom at pretest, posttest (2 weeks after training), and delayed posttest (3 months after training). Subsequent to the pretest, experimental group teachers attended a 2-1/2 hour workshop designed to enhance the quality and frequency of teacher/child interactions.

Data analysis showed that the training session significantly increased the experimental group teachers' length of turn-taking conversations with preschoolers immediately following the training, but the effect was not sustained at delayed posttest. There was no significant effect for training for either number of divergent or number of convergent questions. There were also no significant effects for prior teacher demographics on the language measures.

The results indicate that a single-session format for training may not be sufficient to change certain teacher interactions such as asking divergent questions. The findings of this study suggest the importance of the delayed posttest observation in pretest/posttest/delayed posttest designs and the need for a booster session following the delayed posttest.


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