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Measuring Cognitive Self Regulation in Relation to School Readiness: Illustrative Example

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Mark W. Lipsey, Dale C. Farran, and Sandra J. Wilson

Learning-Related Cognitive Self-Regulation (LRCSR) has emerged as an important facet of school readiness for preschool children and valid measures are needed to support descriptive research on the status of preschool children on this aspect of school readiness and, most critically, intervention research on ways to enhance it. The most important form of validity for a school readiness measure is predictive validity for achievement gain—the extent to which scores are related to subsequent academic progress. None of the measures of LRCSR currently available for young children cover all its constituent skills, and none have been developed to optimize predictive validity.

Our efforts have been directed toward developing (a) a pragmatic conceptualization of LRCSR that is related to children’s engagement in instructional tasks and their associated learning, and (b) measures of LRCSR applicable to preschool children and predictive of achievement gains. The first objective of this research is to construct and validate a teacher rating measure of LRCSR that has these critical characteristics. For circumstances where teacher ratings are not appropriate or possible, direct child assessment measures of LRCSR are needed. The second objective of this research, therefore, is to construct and validate a parallel child assessment measure of LRCSR that has convergent validity with the teacher rating measure. The product of this measurement project thus will be a pair of convergent measures of LRCSR for preschool children—one teacher rating instrument and one child assessment instrument—with both constructed around the same set of component skills and optimized for predictive validity for achievement gains. We define learning-related cognitive self-regulation as the ability to deliberately control the quality, sequence, and persistence of task-related behavior. Within school settings, cognitive self-regulation is required for effective engagement in tasks that provide learning opportunities and is, therefore, fundamental to academic achievement. Review of the skills highlighted in the research and theory on cognitive self-regulation, analysis of the content of existing measures of LRCSR-like abilities for young children, and our own observations of preschool children engaged in learning activities led us to choose 10 individual assessments of aspects of LRCSR. Those along with achievement measures and teacher ratings have been obtained from 550 preschool children in five Tennessee middle schools and five urban child care centers. This endeavor is still in an early stage, but two waves of data have been collected to date and have proven to be very instructive. These preliminary findings were shared in this presentation.

Lipsey Presentation Slides (PDF - 541 KB)

Biosketch for Mark W. Lipsey, Ph.D.

Dr. Mark W. Lipsey is the Director of the Peabody Research Institute and a Research Professor at the Peabody College of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University. He specializes in program evaluation, field experimentation methodology, and meta-analysis with a focus on programs for at-risk children. His current research activities involve early childhood education programs, risk and intervention for antisocial and other problem behaviors, and issues of methodological quality in program evaluation. Dr. Lipsey is a co-principal investigator with Dale Farran and Sandra Wilson on the Institute of Education Sciences-funded project, "Learning-related cognitive self-regulation school readiness measures for preschool children: Optimizing predictive validity for achievement."

Return to Executive Function in Preschool Children: Current Knowledge and Research Opportunities - Agenda page.

Last Reviewed: 11/30/2012
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