Development in School Contexts

Department of Psychology


Development and Preliminary Validation of the Emotional Teacher Rating Scale (EMOTERS) for Preschool Classrooms

Children aren't just learning social-emotional skills when the class is doing a social-emotional lesson. Teachers are constantly modeling, teaching, responding, and creating an environment which teaches children social-emotional skills. In conjunction with Dr. Katherine Zinsser's Social-Emotional Teaching and Learning Lab at the University of Illinois at Chicago, we are conducting an IES-funded study to develop an observational measure of social-emotional teaching. The four-year study will result in a measure for use in preschool classrooms that ranks the various interactions from the least difficult to the most difficult making it clear what teachers can do to improve.

Improving Social and Emotional Teaching in Preschool

With support from the Department of Education, we are working with a group of residents taking part in the University of Illinois at Chicago's Alternative Licensure Program. We aim to support teachers in their supports for (a) children's developing emotional competence, (b) STEM learning, and (c) diverse learners. In particular, we plan to use the EMOTERS measure in the context of coaching and professional learning communities to assist in the professional development of residents.

Variability in Teacher-Child Interactions

Levels of emotional, organizational, and instructional support from teachers have been linked to the development of academic, regulatory, and social skills of children. However, not only the levels, but the variability that children experience in interactions with teachers also seems to be important. We are currently working on several manuscripts that examine how variability in emotional support is related to the academic and social development of children. For example, two teachers whose mean levels of emotional support may be quite different in their variability. One might consistently offer moderate support; the other might sometimes be very supportive, and at other times, be very unsupportive. Our first paper (Curby, Brock, & Hamre, 2013) found that students in classrooms with more emotional variability had worse outcomes - academic and social - than those children in classrooms with less emotional variability. Other work is examining how consistency is related to teacher-child relationships and predictors of teachers' emotional support consistency.