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PreK Children’s Academic Orientations: A New Child Survey Measure

Sat, October 20, 11:30am to 1:00pm, Sonesta Hotel, Wyeth Gallery A/Foyer


There is a need for measures of children’s perceived ideas about themselves as learners (self-concept, growth mindset) and of their learning environment (enjoyment, student-teacher relationship). Given the expansion of Pre-K, the assessment of these constructs is critical given that children are increasingly exposed to educational settings. Most prior research assessing these orientations has focused on K-aged and older children and very few have conducted rigorous psychometric analyses of the employed measures (c.f., Guay et al, 2010). As such, the aim of this study is to evaluate the psychometric qualities of a newly-developed academic orientations survey administered to PreK children assessing their growth mindset, self-concept, enjoyment, and relationship with their teacher. We do this by: (1) evaluating the standardized factor loadings and item cross loadings from a confirmatory factor analysis and exploratory analysis of the four constructs; (2) conducting tests of measurement invariance across demographic groups (e.g., girls versus boys, spanish speakers versus non spanish speakers, etc.) to understand if items function similarly across different demographic groups, (3) and correlating child reports with teacher reports of theoretically-similar constructs as evidence of concurrent validity.

Participants were 1,102 4- to 5-year-old children enrolled in publicly-funded PreK. Participants were Latino (56%), African American (18%), Asian (10%), white (4%), and other (10%). Nearly 58% of families spoke Spanish at home. Surveys were administered one-on-one with children indicating their level of agreement by pointing to one of three increasingly larger circles, corresponding to less or more agreement. Items came from a mix of existing surveys (e.g., Lichtenfeld et al., 2012; Valeski & Stipek, 2010) and those newly-developed for this project.

Exploratory models indicated minimal cross-loading of items. Table 1 displays standardized loadings from the confirmatory factor analysis, which had excellent fit to the data. Latent correlations between constructs suggested adequate differentiation across constructs. We found strong evidence of measurement invariance across all groups tested - males and females, low and medium income children, and children speaking different languages at home. Significant latent mean differences indicated that girls had lower growth mindset but more positive feelings about their teacher and Spanish-speaking children had lower school enjoyment (all significant at p<.05). Table 2 displays latent correlations between the measured constructs and teacher reports of related constructs. Correlations were in expected directions with children’s growth mindsets positively correlated with teacher-reported frustration tolerance and self-concept positively correlated with teacher-reported task orientation.