Factors affecting goodness of fit in kindergarten classrooms

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Factors affecting goodness of fit in kindergarten classrooms
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Full Text









FACTORS AFFECTING GOODNESS OF FIT
IN KINDERGARTEN CLASSROOMS














By

ALICIA MICHELLE SCOTT













A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

2003

























Copyright 2003

By

Alicia Michelle Scott













ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I would like to thank my family (Patricia Scott, Gerald Scott, and Kristina Scott)

for their love, support, and encouragement of all my endeavors. I also would

like to thank my fiance (Gary Geniesse) for his insight and support. In addition,

I would like to thank the school district staff and school principals in Alachua,

Citrus, Duval, and Seminole counties for supporting my research efforts. I owe

a great deal to the kindergarten teachers who graciously participated in this

study. Finally, I would like to express my appreciation to the members of my

committee, Drs. Tina Smith-Bonahue, Thomas Oakland, Ann Seraphine, and

Kristen Kemple, for their guidance and support throughout this project.




















iii














TABLE OF CONTENTS



page
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ....................................................................................iii

LIST OF TABLES ................................................................................................... vii

ABSTRACT ............................................................................................................ix

CHAPTERS

1 INTRODUCTION.............................................................................................. 1


Significance of the Study ................................................................................ 2
Purpose of the Study......................................................................................... 4
Summary and Overview of Remaining Chapters ............................................5

2 REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE ..........................................................................6

Temperament Theory .............................................................................................6
Child Temperament................................................................................... 6
Adult Temperament.............................................................................. 13
Summary ................................................................................................... 17
Temperament and School Adjustment Variables.................................. 18
Interpersonal Relationships .....................................................................20
Academic Performance........................................................................ 27
Summary.................................................................................................. 29
Temperament and Teacher Beliefs ...................................................................... 30
Goodness of Fit ................................................................................................37

3 METHODS........................................................................................................ 49

Participants and Settings .............................................................................. 49
M easures........................................................................................................... 53

iv









C hild V ignettes .............................................................................................53
Teachers' Perceptions of School Adjustment and Success ...................55
Teacher Temperament Type ............................................................... 57
Teacher Demographic Information........................................................ 60
Procedure ............................................................................................................... 60
Child Vignettes ....................................................................................... 60
Teachers' Perceptions of School Adjustment and Success ...................61
Teacher Temperament Type ............................................................... 62
Teacher Demographic Information... ................................................... 64

4 R ESU LTS........................................................................................................... 66

Introduction....................................................................................................... 66
Teachers' Perceptions of Children's School Adjustment.................... 68
Teachers' Perceptions of Children's School Success ............................. 77

5 D ISCU SSIO N ................................................................................................... 83

Introduction............................................................................................. 83
Teachers' Perceptions of Children's School Adjustment and
Success...................................................................................................... 85
Child Temperament............................. ......................................85
Child Developmental Maturity................................................... 87
Parent Involvement ................................................................... 88
Teacher Temperament Type....................... ............ ........... ... 89
Implications for Practice ...................................................................... 91
Limitations of the Study ...................................................................... 94
Implications for Future Research .......................................... ............. 95

APPENDICES

A PRINCIPAL INVITATION LETTER ..............................................................98

B RESEARCH STUDY CONSENT FORM ........................................................ 100

C CHILD VIGNETTES AND SCHOOL ADJUSTMENT AND SUCCESS
QUESTIONNAIRE.............................................................................................. 102



v









D PILOT STUDY CONSENT FORM .................................................................... 112

E RELIABILITY STUDY CONSENT FORM ....................................................... 114

F TEACHER INFORMATION SURVEY ........................................................... 116

REFEREN C ES ........................................................................................................... 118

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .................................................................................. 126






































vi













LIST OF TABLES


Table Page

1. Child Temperament Categories............................................... ............ 7

2. Adult Temperament Types.................................................................... 15

3. Teacher-Related Demographic Information Provided by Participants on
the Teacher Information Survey........................................... ................ 51

4. Teaching Environment Demographic Information Provided by
Participants on the Teacher Information Survey......................... .......... 52

5. Summary for School Adjustment Split Plot Repeated Measures ANOVA
for Within Subjects Effects............................................................... 71

6. Summary for School Adjustment Slit Plot Repeated Measures ANOVA
for Between Subjects Effects........................................... ....................... 72

7. Mean Adjustment Ratings for Child Temperament by Developmental
Maturity by Teacher Temperament Interaction Effect.............................. 72

8. Paired Samples T-Tests for Adjustment Ratings for Child Temperament
by Developmental Maturity by Teacher Temperament Interaction
Effect ............................................................................................................ 73

9. Mean Adjustment Ratings for Child Temperament by Developmental
Maturity by Parent Involvement Interaction Effect................................... 75

10. Paired Samples T-Tests for Adjustment Ratings for Child Temperament
by Developmental Maturity by Parent Involvement Interaction Effect... 75



vii









11. Summary for School Success Split Plot Repeated Measures ANOVA for
W ithin Subjects Effects................................................. .......................... 78

12. Summary for School Success Split Plot Repeated Measures ANOVA for
Between Subjects Effects............................................... ......................... 79

13. Mean School Success Ratings for Child Temperament by Developmental
Maturity by Parent Involvement Interaction Effect................................... 80

14. Paired Samples T-Tests for School Success Ratings for Child
Temperament by Developmental Maturity by Parent Involvement
Interaction Effect ........................................................................................ 80

































viii













Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School

of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy


FACTORS AFFECTING GOODNESS OF FIT
IN KINDERGARTEN CLASSROOMS

By

Alicia Michelle Scott

May 2003


Chairperson: Tina Smith-Bonahue
Major Department: Educational Psychology

Previous research has related temperament to academic, behavioral, and

social adjustment problems in childhood. In addition, a child's academic

performance and interactions with teachers may affect the child's school

adjustment and, as a result, his or her fit with the classroom environment. The

importance of goodness of fit between children's temperament and

environmental demands is well-documented. Research suggests that when a

poor fit exists, a child is at risk for poor developmental outcomes. Although

goodness of fit is considered to have many clinical applications, its importance



ix









has not been fully explored in school settings. This study examined whether

relationships exist among teachers' perceptions of kindergarten children's

school adjustment and success and certain child- and teacher-related variables.

Eighty-eight kindergarten teachers participated in this study, which attempted

to ascertain (a) whether relationships exist among teachers' perceptions of

children's school adjustment and four explanatory variables (i.e., child

temperament, child developmental maturity, parent involvement, and teacher

temperament) and (b) whether relationships exist among teachers' perceptions

of children's school success and four explanatory variables (i.e., child

temperament, child developmental maturity, parent involvement, and teacher

temperament).

With regard to the first question, significant main effects were found for

each of the four independent variables. In addition, significant interaction

effects were found among child temperament and developmental maturity;

child temperament and parent involvement; developmental maturity and

parent involvement; child temperament, developmental maturity, and teacher

temperament; and child temperament, developmental maturity, and parent

involvement.





x









With regard to the second question, significant main effects were found

for child temperament and developmental maturity. In addition, significant

interaction effects were found among child temperament and developmental

maturity as well as child temperament, developmental maturity, and parent

involvement.





































xi













CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

The moder era of temperament research with young children began in

the 1950s with the landmark New York Longitudinal Study. Thomas, Chess,

and Birch (1968) defined temperament as a person's behavioral style.

Temperament also is defined as constitutionally determined dispositional

characteristics that influence the manner in which an individual's actions are

expressed (Stelmack & Stalikas, 1991). Many researchers believe that

children's temperament affects how they respond to objective features in the

environment (e.g., Bates, 1980; Carey, 1981; Carey & McDevitt, 1995; Rothbart,

Ahadi, & Hershey, 1994; Thomas & Chess, 1977). Certain temperament

characteristics have been identified as risk factors for future development

(Carey & McDevitt, 1995; Carson, 1994; Caspi & Silva, 1995). As a result,

temperament has been recognized as a significant contributor both to normal

and pathological development (Thomas & Chess, 1989).

Temperament has been linked to academic, behavioral, and social

adjustment. In addition, a child's academic performance and interactions with

teachers may affect the child's school adjustment and, as a result, his or her fit


1







2

with the classroom environment. Goodness of fit, defined as consonance

among a child's capacities, characteristics, and style of behaving and the

expectations and demands of the child's environment, contributes to positive

developmental outcomes (Thomas & Chess, 1977). Studies that examine

relationships among children's temperament and variables that may affect

goodness of fit may help researchers and practitioners understand why some

children are successful in school-related activities while others face significant

challenges.


Significance of the Study

The importance of goodness of fit between children's temperament and

environmental demands is well-documented. Based on the seminal work of

Thomas and Chess, consonance among children's abilities, characteristics, and

behavioral style and the expectations and demands of the environment is

believed to contribute to positive developmental outcomes for children.

Researchers have found that when a poor fit exists, a child is at risk for

academic, behavioral, and social adjustment difficulties (Chess & Thomas,

1986). Although goodness of fit is considered to have many clinical

applications, traditionally, researchers and theorists have addressed its

application to home environments; only recently has it begun to be explored







3

in school settings. To that end, the present study investigates relationships

among certain child- and teacher-related variables that may affect a child's

school adjustment and success. If variables that influence children's school

adjustment can be identified, practitioners (e.g., school psychologists,

guidance counselors, and teachers) may help children adapt their capabilities,

characteristics, and behavioral styles to better meet the expectations and

demands of the environment. Conversely, teachers may be able to learn to

adjust classroom expectations and demands to better meet the needs of

individual children. In addition, understanding how teachers' characteristics

and beliefs influence their students has implications for assisting teachers to

modify their beliefs and expectations in order to facilitate a better fit for all

students.

The factors that affect children's fit in the classroom have a number of

education-oriented implications. For example, children's kindergarten

experiences help set a tone for their school success (Birch & Ladd, 1997;

Maxwell & Eller, 1994; Skarpness & Carson, 1987). The fit between children's

characteristics and their teachers' beliefs and expectations are likely to

influence not only their initial experiences with education but their future

interactions and adjustment as well. In addition, practitioners (e.g., school







4

psychologists and guidance counselors) are in a position to consult with

teachers regarding challenging students. Therefore, an understanding of the

potential factors that contribute to a poor fit may provide implications for

teacher beliefs as well as consultation and interventions to achieve the goal of

promoting successful adjustment for children.


Purpose of the Study

This study examined teachers' judgments of children's school

adjustment and success based on child- and teacher-related variables,

including child temperament, child developmental maturity, parent

involvement, and teacher temperament type. Specifically, this study

addressed the following questions:

1. What relationships exist among teachers' perceptions of children's

school adjustment and the four explanatory variables (i.e., child

temperament, child developmental maturity, parental involvement,

and teacher temperament type)?

2. What relationships exist among teachers' perceptions of children's

school success and the four explanatory variables (i.e., child

temperament, child developmental maturity, parental involvement,

and teacher temperament type)?







5

Summary and Overview of Remaining Chapters

This study examined teachers' judgments of children's school

adjustment and success based on child- and teacher-related variables. Despite

the recognized importance of goodness of fit in clinical settings, its importance

in school settings has not been fully explored. As a result, this study

attempted to expand existing research and identify variables that may

contribute to goodness of fit in the classroom.

Chapter 2 provides a review of the relevant research in the areas of

temperament, school adjustment, academic performance, teacher beliefs, and

goodness of fit. Chapter 3 describes the research methodology and

procedures used in this study. Chapter 4 describes the results of the study.

Chapter 5 discusses how the results of the study relate to previous research,

addresses the limitations of the study, and provides implications for future

research.













CHAPTER 2
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE

Temperament Theory

Child Temperament

The seminal research on child temperament qualities of young children

was conducted by Thomas and Chess. They believe temperament "concerns

the way [authors' emphasis] in which an individual behaves" (Thomas &

Chess, 1977, p. 9), and equate it with behavioral style. Their New York

Longitudinal Study (NYLS) followed 141 children from infancy to early

childhood over a 6-year period. Based on this study, Thomas and Chess

(1977) proposed nine categories of temperament: activity level, rhythmicity,

approach or withdrawal, adaptability, threshold of responsiveness, intensity

of reaction, quality of mood, distractibility, and attention span and persistence

(see Table 1).

From these categories, Thomas and Chess (1977) defined three

temperament constellations. The easy child (approximately 40% of the NYLS

sample) is characterized by a high adaptability to change, approach to new




6








7

Table 1

Child Temperament Categories

Category Description
Activity Level Relates to the motor component of a child's functioning
as well as the daily proportion of active and inactive
intervals.

Rhythmicity Relates to the level of predictability of a child's natural
schedule, and can be relative to the child's sleep-wake
cycle, feeding pattern, hunger, and elimination schedule.
Relates to the predictability of social behaviors (e.g.,
habits, routines, etc.) as children mature.

Approach or Deals with how a child initially responds to any new
Withdrawal stimulus approach responses are considered positive,
whereas withdrawal responses are considered negative.

Adaptability Concerns how a child responds to altered situations.

Threshold of Relates to the intensity level of a stimulus required to
Responsiveness elicit a detectable response.

Intensity of Reaction Pertains to the energy level of a child's response.

Quality of Mood Concerns the amount of pleasant or unpleasant behavior
a child exhibits.

Distractibility Relates to the degree to which extraneous environmental
stimuli interfere with or alter the direction of a child's
ongoing behavior.

Attention Span and Attention span deals with the length of time a child
Persistence pursues an activity. Persistence refers to a child's ability
to continue an activity despite obstacles that may get in
the way of maintaining the child's activity direction.


Source: Carey, 1998; Thomas & Chess, 1977








8

stimuli, relative rhythmicity, and a mild mood that is primarily positive. The

difficult child (approximately 10% of the NYLS sample) is characterized by

intense, frequently negative mood expressions, a lack of rhythmicity,

withdrawal from new stimuli, and a lack of adaptability to changing stimuli.

The slow-to-warm-up child (approximately 15% of the NYLS sample) is

characterized by a concurrence of negative, mildly intense responses to new

stimuli with slow adaptability after recurrent contact, as well as a mild intensity

of reaction and relative rhythmicity (Thomas & Chess, 1977). However, not all

children fall into these three categories. Different temperament combinations

as well as varying behavioral manifestations in different situations resulted in

the inability to classify a child's temperament into a constellation for

approximately 30% of the NYLS sample (Thomas & Chess, 1977).

The basis of temperament is believed to be biological. It can be

identified in infancy and has been shown to be somewhat consistent into

childhood and adulthood (Bates, 1980; Henderson & Fox, 1998; Teglasi, 1998).

Research on the genetic basis of temperament relies primarily on twin studies

comparing monozygotic and dizygotic twins. Monozygotic twins have been

found to have a higher rate of concurrence on temperament variables than

dizygotic twins on parent-report temperament measures (Bates, 1980). When








9

examining this research, one should consider potential validity problems

associated with parent-report measures. However, in a study that did not rely

on parent reports, data were collected using content analyses of parent

interviews to score objective descriptions of children's behavior. Monozygotic

twins were found to be more similar than dizygotic twins on all nine of the

New York Longitudinal Study traits at 9 months of age (Torgersen &

Kringlen, 1978).

Additional research that does not rely solely on parent reports supports

the genetic nature of temperament. For example, monozygotic and dyzygotic

twins' activity levels were compared (Saudino & Eaton, 1991). Data were

collected using actometers, mechanical motion recorders that have been

described as a reliable and valid method for measuring infant activity.

Additional data were collected on infants' activity level from parent ratings.

Data from both the actometers as well as the parent ratings showed evidence

of genetic influences on activity level (Saudino & Eaton, 1991).

Temperament also is relatively stable from infancy through childhood.

Some degree of continuity should be expected when examining basic

characteristics that appear to be partially determined by genetic factors, (Carey,

1981). A study investigating the relationship between behavioral styles at age 3








10

and personality traits at age 18 found temperament in early childhood to be

related to adolescent behavioral and personality characteristics (Caspi & Silva,

1995). For example, children whose behavioral styles were characterized as

impulsive and undercontrolled at age 3 displayed personality styles reflecting

low behavioral constraint at age 18. These 18-year-olds described themselves

as danger-seeking and impulsive (Caspi & Silva, 1995). Further, activity level,

threshold of responsiveness, adaptability, and intensity were stable for both

boys and girls up to age five (McDevitt, 1977, as cited in Thomas & Chess,

1977). Rhythmicity was found to be stable for girls, and mood was found to be

stable for boys up to age five. From ages five to seven, activity level and mood

were stable for boys only.

While temperament characteristics are consistent over time, these

characteristics do not "necessarily follow a consistent linear course" (Thomas &

Chess, 1977, p. 171). They interact with the environment and, as a result, a

child's behavioral style is modified by both past and present influences.

Therefore, "consistency of a temperamental trait or constellation in an

individual over time ... may require stability in these interactional forces, such

as environmental influences, motivation, and abilities" (Thomas & Chess, 1977,

p. 172).










Although temperament is thought to have a biological basis, it also is

thought to be influenced by the environment (Bates, 1980). However, this

interaction is both complex and reciprocal, as a child's temperament also

influences his or her encounters with the environment (Carey, 1981). The

Transactional Model (Sameroff & Fiese, 1990) supports this concept. This

model proposes that developmental outcomes are not related to an

individual's characteristics alone or the experiential context alone. Rather, the

combination of an individual and his or her experience determines

developmental outcomes. As a result, the nature of the interaction generally is

described as more important than either temperament or the environment

alone.

Despite the transactional nature of temperament and environment,

some temperament profiles (e.g., characteristics associated with the difficult

child) appear to be more likely to result in childhood problems than do others

(Carey, 1981). Researchers contend that children's responses to objective

environmental features are affected by their temperament (e.g., Bates, 1980;

Carey, 1981; Carey & McDevitt, 1995; Rothbart et al., 1994; Thomas & Chess,

1977), and some responses are more adaptive than others. Carey and

McDevitt (1995) went so far as to say "that conflicts between temperament and








12

environment occupy much of the considerable ground between normal

behavior (and misbehavior) and major childhood pathology" (p. xi).

Temperament traits, such as those typically seen in a difficult child, are

associated with the development of learning difficulties, adjustment problems,

and psychopathology. For example, children with difficult temperaments

may be more vulnerable to stress, as seen in a study comparing school-aged

children's temperament with coping abilities and responses to stress. Less

rhythmic and more intense behavioral styles were found to be associated with

impulsivity/acting out and passive aggression. Further, higher intensity and

lower threshold of response were found to be related to higher stress

occurrence and stress impact (Carson, 1994). The New York Longitudinal

Study also found that individual differences in negative mood,

nonadaptability, lack of rhythmicity, and intensity during early childhood

were related to externalizing problems in late childhood. In addition, when

measured at 3, 4, and 5 years of age, difficult child characteristics were related

to numerous adjustment problems in school, at home, and during early

adulthood (Caspi & Silva, 1995).

A major limitation of temperament research is that much of it relies

heavily on parent-report measures of child temperament. The use of parent-








13

report measures is problematic in that there may be considerable bias in

parents' reports of their children's behavior and characteristics. Bates (1980)

reported only modest support for the external validity of these types of

measures. He cited a number of studies that found smaller within-pair

temperament similarity for dyzygotic twins than for monozygotic twins.

Genetic theory would suggest stronger similarities than were found.

However, McDevitt and Carey (1978) reported a number of reasons for

using parent-report measures. Parent-report measures provide a more

objective and standardized scoring procedure than interview procedures.

Every parent is asked exactly the same questions, in the same order, about

reactions appropriate for the child's age group. In addition, parent-reports

allow for the careful selection of test-item wording to yield a score clearly in

only one category. This prevents conceptual and statistical blurring of

multiple category interpretation that can occur with more traditional parent

interview techniques (McDevitt & Carey, 1978).


Adult Temperament

Whereas Thomas and Chess' temperament theory is typically related to

children, Jung's theory of temperament is more commonly applied to adults.

According to Jung, what is often thought of as random variation in behavior is








14

actually orderly and consistent, due to the basic differences in individuals'

preferences in using their perceptions and judgments. Perception relates to

the process of becoming aware of people, things, ideas, or happenings.

Judgment relates to the ways in which individuals come to conclusions about

what has been perceived (Jung's theory, 2001). In other words, these

preferences "affect not only what people attend to in any given situation, but

also how they draw conclusions about what they perceive" (Myers &

McCaulley, 1985, p. 2).

Jung described two basic attitudes (i.e., extraversion/introversion) and

four functions (i.e., sensing/intuitive and thinking/feeling) that direct the use

of perception and judgment (Jung, 1921/1971). Myers and Briggs later added

an additional attitude (i.e., judging/perceiving) (Myers & McCaulley, 1985)

(see Table 2). These four attitudes and functions are combined to create 16

psychological types.

Type theory suggests that although an individual will develop and use

each of the eight preferences, they will not be equally favored. Along each

dimension, an individual will normally have a predisposition for one end of

the continuum. The interaction among an individual's four preferred attitudes

and functions constitutes that individual's "type" (Meisgeier, Murphy, &








15

Table 2

Adult Temperament Types

Type Description
Extraversion (E) Relates to the orientations of energy. Extraversion directs
Introversion (I) energy primarily outward toward people and objects.
Introversion directs energy primarily inward toward
experiences and ideas.

Sensing (S) Deals with the processes of perception. Sensing focuses
Intuitive (N) mainly on the five senses, whereas intuition focuses
mainly on patterns and interrelationships.

Thinking (T) Relates to the functions of judgment. Thinking involves
Feeling (F) objectivity and basing conclusions on logic. Feeling
focuses on harmony and basing conclusions on values.

Judging (J) Deals with the processes an individual uses to deal with
Perceiving (P) the outer world. Judgment focuses on decisiveness and
closure and uses one of the judging processes (T or F).
Perceiving focuses on flexibility and uses one of the
perceiving processes (S or N).


Source: Myers & McCaulley, 1985; Quenk, 2000


Meisgeier, 1989). Type development is believed to be a lifelong process. As

individuals become older, they will consciously develop and use two of the

types more frequently. These two types are thought to be more interesting to

the individual; the other two types are thought to be less interesting and,

therefore, are more likely to be neglected. The environment plays a role in the

development of a person's type, as it fosters one's natural preferences or








16

discourages them by reinforcing activities that are less satisfying to the

individual (Myers, McCaulley, Quenk, & Hammer, 1998).

Temperament type affects the way individuals deal with their world.

This extends into the classroom, as teachers teach and interact with their

students. Researchers suggest that teachers primarily have ESFJ or ISFJ

psychological types (Grindler & Stratton, 1990; Macdaid, McCaulley, & Kainz,

1986). That is, while no consistent preference has been identified related to the

extraversion (E) or introversion (I) dimension, studies have suggested that

teachers are more likely to prefer sensing (S), feeling (F), and judging (J) types.

ESFJs are described as the friendliest and most compassionate of the

temperament types. Individuals with this type try to make life easier for

others and promote group cohesion. ISFJs are the most reliable of the

temperament types. They prefer to quietly gather facts and store them for

future use (Myers et al., 1998). Overall, individuals with the sensing and

judging preferences value precision, structure, and order in the classroom

(Meisgeier et al., 1989).

Teachers' temperament types affect how they structure their classrooms

and interact with their students. For example, teachers who prefer

extraversion have classrooms high in movement and noise, and like to give








17

their students choices. On the other hand, teachers who prefer introversion

are more likely to have orderly and quiet classrooms with more structured

learning activities (Myers et al., 1998). Temperament styles also influence how

teachers define student misbehavior. For example, high school teachers with a

sensing preference tend to identify anything that interferes with instruction as

misbehavior (Miner & Hyman, 1988).


Summary

With regard to child temperament, Thomas and Chess (1977) described

nine temperament categories and three temperament constellations as a result

of their research. Temperament is believed to be biological in nature in that it

appears in infancy and has been shown to be consistent into childhood and

adolescence. In addition, research on temperament characteristics of

monozygotic and dizygotic twins supports a genetic basis. A reciprocal

relationship is believed to exist between the biological nature of temperament

and environmental encounters. In other words, a child's temperament is

influenced by both biological and environmental influences as well as the

interaction between the two. Research has shown that children with certain

temperament characteristics may be more vulnerable to stress and more prone

to behavioral and adjustment problems.








18

Jung indicated that much of adults' behavior is due to basic differences

in their preferences in using perception and judgment. In other words,

perception and judgment affect what people attend to as well as how they draw

conclusions (Myers & McCaulley, 1985). Jung, Myers, and Briggs described

basic attitudes (i.e., extraversion/introversion and judgment/perception) and

functions (i.e., sensing/intuitive and thinking/feeling) that direct the use of

perception and judgment (Jung 1921/1971; Myers & McCaulley, 1985). The

attitudes and functions can be combined into 16 four-letter types. A person's

type is determined based on his or her predisposition for one end of the

continuum along each of four dimensions. The interaction between an

individual's four preferred attitudes and functions constitutes that

individual's "type" (Meisgeier et al., 1989). Teachers primarily have ESFJ or

ISFJ temperament types (Grindler & Stratton, 1990; Macdaid et al., 1986).

Teachers' temperament types affect how they structure their classrooms,

teach, and interact with students.


Temperament and School Adjustment Variables

Understanding relationships between temperament and school

experiences is important because of the central role school plays in children's

lives. "With the exception of the family, no social institution plays a more








19

powerful role in children's lives" (Keogh, 1986, p. 89). Particularly important

are children's experiences in kindergarten, as this period is often the first time

children experience a formal school setting. Children are expected to adjust to

new social and academic demands and must form and maintain strategies to

cope with their social environment (Chess & Thomas, 1986; Hamre & Pianta,

2001). For example, children must learn to cooperate with nonparental

authority figures, successfully enter and become part of a new peer group,

become committed to academic development, and exhibit good performance

in academic skill building activities (Pianta, Steinberg, & Rollins, 1995).

Children who are successfully adjusted relate well to the teacher and their

peers and are well suited to various learning experiences (Skarpness &

Carson, 1987).

Experiences during the initial contact with school can affect children's

self-concepts as well as their attitudes toward school (Rusher, McGrevin, &

Lambiotte, 1992). These experiences also can impact children's long-term

school experiences. For example, early adjustment to kindergarten may help

alleviate the stress that comes from the changes children experience

(Skarpness and Carson, 1987). On the other hand, children who have








20

difficulty adjusting as the school year progresses may continue to experience

long-term difficulties.

School adjustment can be characterized by a child's ability to cope with

the specific social and cognitive demands of the school environment (Cassel,

1962, as cited in Skarpness & Carson, 1987). Skarpness and Carson (1987)

defined successful adjustment as the extent to which a child is able to relate to

other students and the teacher, as well as how well suited he or she is to the

various learning experiences encountered in school. School-related demands

generally can be classified into two major categories: 1) those that are

interpersonal in nature and related to behavior that is adjusted and socially

appropriate and 2) those that involve academic performance and achievement

(Keogh, 1986). Each is discussed below.


Interpersonal Relationships

Relationships among children's adjustment to school and the school

environment's interpersonal features have not been an area of interest until

recent years. In addition, investigations on this topic have focused primarily

on children's peer relationships in classrooms (Birch & Ladd, 1997). This line

of research (e.g., Ladd, 1990; Parker & Asher, 1993; Ladd & Price, 1987) has

indicated that classroom peers play an important role in children's school








21

adjustment. Further, children who experience early difficulties with their

peers are at risk for later school adjustment problems (Birch & Ladd, 1997).

Peers are not the only individuals with whom children have important

relationships. Classroom teachers also may serve as key figures in children's

school-lives and, as a result, may affect children's school adjustment (Birch &

Ladd, 1997; Hamre & Pianta, 2001; Keogh, 1986; Pianta, 1994; Pianta &

Steinberg, 1992). More of children's waking hours are spent with teachers

than with parents; therefore, the teacher-child relationship is an integral part

of the academic and social learning context and provides a context for

development itself (Pianta et al., 1995).

Some researchers believe that children's patterns of achievement are

well-established by the third grade and that few school experiences beyond

the third grade have the power to change that course (Alexander & Entwisle,

1988, as cited in Pianta & Steinberg, 1992). As a result, teachers in the primary

grades (K 2) are likely to have an important impact on a child's school

experiences. For example, teacher-child relationship patterns in kindergarten

predict later school adjustment as well as academic and behavioral outcomes

(Hamre & Pianta, 2001; Pianta & Nimetz, 1991; Pianta & Steinberg, 1992).










Teacher-child relationships play a critical regulatory role in children's

development. For example, teachers assist children in learning how to behave,

how to interact with others, and about the nature of the school environment.

This regulatory role is particularly important during periods in which

developmental processes are less buffered or are challenged by environmental

demands (Pianta et al., 1995). The early years of elementary school pose such

a challenge to young children. Teacher-child relationships can lend

organization and stability to developmental processes, assisting children to

modify or elaborate their existing coping strategies as well as to develop new

strategies (Pianta et al., 1995). Despite their importance as a feature of the

academic and social learning context and the potential implications for school

adjustment, teacher-child relationships "have received little attention in the

literature on school-related developmental outcomes" (Pianta et al., 1995, p.

296).

Patterns of kindergarten children's relationships with their teachers are

predictive of school achievement (Pianta & Nimetz, 1991; Pianta & Steinberg,

1991). One study examined kindergarten teachers' views about their

relationships with their students as measured on the Student-Teacher

Relationship Scale (STRS) (Pianta & Steinberg, 1992). The STRS was based on








23

research of teacher-child interactions and attachment theory. Three distinct

factors were revealed: closeness, dependency, and conflict/anger (Birch &

Ladd, 1997; Pianta et al., 1995). Closeness is described as encompassing the

degree of open communication and warmth existing between a child and his

or her teacher (Birch & Ladd, 1997). It may function as a support for young

children in the school environment. A positive student-teacher relationship in

kindergarten was associated with higher levels of competent behaviors and

fewer behavior problems (Pianta et al., 1995). A close relationship may

facilitate positive attitudes toward and greater involvement in school (Birch &

Ladd, 1997). Further, a close teacher-child relationship may serve as a

motivating factor for teachers to put forth more time and effort to promote the

child's success (Hamre & Pianta, 2001). In addition, based on parent-child

attachment theory, Birch and Ladd (1997) suggested that close student-teacher

relationships provide children with a secure base they can use to explore their

environment. Therefore, closeness may promote children's school

performance and learning (Birch & Ladd, 1997).

Dependency, a second factor of the teacher-child relationship, refers to

an over-reliance on the teacher as a source of support. It can be characterized

by "clingy" or possessive behaviors. Dependency in the teacher-student








24

relationship reportedly interferes with children's school adjustment (Birch &

Ladd, 1997). Overly dependent children may be hesitant in their explorations

of the school environment as well as in their social relationships. These

children more commonly experience feelings of loneliness and negative

attitudes toward school than do their non-dependent peers (Birch & Ladd,

1997).

Conflict/anger, the third factor of the teacher-child relationship, reflects

negative affect and may impair children's school adjustment because it acts as

a stressor in the school environment (Birch & Ladd, 1997; Pianta, 1994).

Conflictual teacher-child relationships involve a lack of rapport between the

teacher and the child as well as a sense of friction in their interactions.

Further, this type of relationship may result in teacher efforts to control a

child's behavior (Hamre & Pianta, 2001). A child who is a part of a conflictual

relationship may be limited in the extent to which he or she can rely on the

teacher as a source of support (Birch & Ladd, 1997). In addition, this type of

relationship may result in increased feelings of anxiety or anger, resulting in

withdrawal from school activities (e.g., becoming uninvolved or disengaged)

or feelings of alienation (e.g., loneliness and negative school attitudes).








25

Further, the stress associated with a conflictual relationship also may be

associated with impaired academic performance (Birch & Ladd, 1997).

Few studies address relationships between school adjustment and the

teacher-child relationship. One such study included 436 kindergarten children

and their 26 classroom teachers. Among the kindergarten children who were

recommended for retention, those who were not retained had more positive

teacher-child relationships than the children who were retained (Pianta &

Steinberg, 1992).

Relationships among the three aspects of the teacher-child relationship

(closeness, dependency, and conflict) and children's early school adjustment

were examined in a study that included 206 kindergarten children and their 16

classroom teachers (Birch & Ladd, 1997). Data collected during the fall

semester included measures of the teacher-child relationship (using a teacher-

report rating scale) and children's school adjustment. School adjustment

outcome indices included a readiness test, self-report rating scale on loneliness

and social dissatisfaction, self-report rating scale on school liking and school

avoidance, and teacher-report rating scale of children's school adjustment.

Closeness in the teacher-child relationship was positively related to

kindergartners' academic performance. A positive relationship also was








26

found between closeness and factors on the school adjustment rating scale

(i.e., self-directedness and school liking). In addition, the relationship between

dependency in the teacher-child relationship and school adjustment

difficulties was strong. Kindergartners who had a dependent relationship

with their teacher displayed lower academic performance, less positive

engagement with the school environment, and more negative school attitudes.

Kindergartners who displayed conflictual relationships with their teachers

also tended to have negative school attitudes and were rated by their teachers

as less self-directed, higher in school avoidance, and lower in cooperative

participation (Birch & Ladd, 1997).

Children's temperament characteristics are related to their interactions

with teachers (Chess & Thomas, 1986; Keogh & Burnstein, 1988; Paget, Nagle,

& Martin, 1984). For example, in a study of 18 preschool children, teachers

interacted more with preschool children with positive temperament profiles

than those with negative temperament profiles. However, among children

with disabilities, teachers interacted more frequently with children with

negative temperament than those with positive temperaments (Keogh &

Burnstein, 1988). In addition, in a study of the relationship among 217

children's temperament and communication abilities and their kindergarten








27

adjustment, less active children were perceived to be better adjusted. Further,

children with primarily positive moods were perceived to be better adjusted,

suggesting that children with more "favorable" temperament characteristics

may elicit more positive interactions with their teachers, which in turn

contributes to their adjustment (Skarpness & Carson, 1987).


Academic Performance

Temperament characteristics are related to learning and educational

performance (Martin & Gaddis, 1989; Keogh, 1986; Martin & Holbrook, 1985).

For example, in a study of the relationship between 104 first grade children's

temperament characteristics and their academic achievement, the

temperament characteristics of activity, adaptability, and persistence were

related to reading and mathematics achievement, even when controlling for

IQ. The two temperament characteristics that best predicted achievement

were persistence and adaptability (Martin & Holbrook, 1985). In addition, the

temperament characteristics of activity level, distractibility, and task

persistence were most related to achievement in early elementary school, and

activity level and distractibility were negatively associated with achievement

and teacher-assigned grades (Martin, 1989; Schoen & Nagle, 1994). Further,

the temperament factors of low task orientation (i.e., high activity, high








28

distractibility, and low attention span-persistence), low flexibility (i.e.,

negative quality of mood, low approach, and low adaptability), and high

reactivity (i.e., low threshold of responsiveness, high intensity of reaction, and

negative quality of mood) were most related to children's school performance

problems (Carey, 1998; Keogh, 1989).

With regard to academic demands, relationships between temperament

and achievement are not global. Instead, temperament seems to be more

evident in school tasks that require the regulation of attention, activity,

persistence, and distractibility than in tasks involving new problem-solving

strategies (Keogh, 1986). For example, attention span and distractibility may

be linked to "a child's ability to adjust to the academic requirements of

kindergarten" (Skarpness & Carson, 1987, p. 373). Some believe temperament

moderates children's academic performance by "'setting the stage' for the

acquisition of new learning" (Keogh, 1986, p. 99). For example, children who

are inhibited by new situations may have difficulty entering new activities or

handling fast-paced changes and, as a result, may be at risk for not keeping up

with the pace of instruction. The temperament characteristics of high

adaptability, high task persistence, high approach, and low negative

emotionality appear to protect a child from the occurrence of school-related








29

problems (Martin, 1994). Martin (1994) reported that this is likely to occur for

two reasons. First, persistence probably enhances children's learning,

regardless of their cognitive ability. Second, "children who have temperament

traits that make them more socially attractive are more likely to receive social

support" (p. 129).


Summary

School plays an important role in children's lives, and their adjustment

to school can impact their school experiences (Chess & Thomas, 1986; Keogh,

1986; Skarpness & Carson, 1987). School adjustment is defined as how well a

child is able to relate to peers and teachers as well as how well suited he or she

is to the various learning experiences encountered in school (Skarpness &

Carson, 1987). School-related demands that children encounter can be

classified as either those that are interpersonal in nature or those that involve

academic performance (Keogh, 1986). With regard to interpersonal demands,

teacher-child relationships play an important role in children's school

adjustment (Birch & Ladd, 1997; Keogh, 1986; Pianta et al., 1995). Children

who had negative relationships with their teachers had poorer adjustment to

school than those children who had more positive relationships with their

teachers (Birch & Ladd, 1997). Children's temperament characteristics also








30

affect their relationships with teachers (Keogh & Burnstein, 1988; Skarpness &

Carson, 1987). With regard to academic performance, temperament

characteristics are related to learning and educational performance (Martin &

Gaddis, 1989). That is, certain temperament characteristics may moderate a

child's academic performance by allowing him or her to enter new activities,

handle fast-paced classroom changes, and regulate the amount of attention or

persistence needed by a particular task (Keogh, 1986; Martin, 1994).


Temperament and Teacher Beliefs

Teachers' beliefs influence their decisions, judgments, teaching, and

interactions with children (Birch & Ladd, 1997; Bloom, 1992; Fang, 1996;

Isenberg, 1990; Keogh, 1986; Nespor, 1987; Pajares, 1992). As a result, an

understanding of teachers' beliefs is important to promote a better

understanding of the variations that occur across individuals' teaching

practices (Isenberg, 1990). "Belief" can be defined as a psychologically held

understanding, proposition, or premise about the world that is considered to

be true (Richardson, 1996). Belief also is defined as a conception of some

reality containing sufficient credibility or validity to satisfy the person holding

the belief (Green, 1971; Pajares, 1992). Typically, a belief is contextually bound

and guides one's thoughts and behavior (Fang, 1996; Pajares, 1992;








31

Richardson, 1996). Goodenough (1963) reported that beliefs are "accepted as

guides for assessing the future, are cited in support of decisions, or are

referred to in passing judgment on the behavior of others" (p. 151). Beliefs are

similar to emotional attitudes in the sense that one can believe a proposition

without being aware of it. They fall on a continuum and can range from an

uncertain suspicion to absolute conviction (Smith & Shepard, 1988).

Beliefs differ from knowledge; beliefs are based on evaluation and

judgment whereas knowledge is based on conclusive facts (Nespor, 1987;

Pajares, 1992; Smith & Shepard, 1988). Beliefs, though assumed to be true by

those who hold them, do not require a truth condition (Green, 1971; Lehrer,

1990). On the other hand, knowledge is more concrete and typically has some

supporting evidence (Richardson, 1996). Beliefs also may have a stronger

affective and evaluative element than knowledge because affect usually

operates independently of the cognition associated with knowledge (Nespor,

1987).

By the time preservice teachers enter college, their beliefs about

teaching are generally well-established (Buchmann, 1987; Pajares, 1992), as

they are developed during individuals' "apprenticeship of observation"

(Lortie, 1975, p. 61), a first-hand view of what teachers do in the classroom








32

during their own formative educational experiences (Buchmann, 1987; Pajares,

1992; Richardson, 1996). The key to teachers' operating knowledge may be

found in this informal occupational socialization of teachers (Buchmann, 1987).

In addition to their experience as students, teachers' beliefs also are

shaped by their other personal experiences, which in turn are affected by their

temperaments. Personal experience includes aspects of life that contribute to

the development of a world view; intellectual and morale dispositions;

understandings of the connection between schooling and society; and other

forms of familial, personal, and cultural understanding (Richardson, 1996).

Once formed, beliefs about teaching tend to persevere and resist change

(Buchmann, 1987; Lortie, 1975; Nespor, 1987; Pajares, 1992). This is partially

due to the fact that belief systems filter subsequent thinking and influence

how new phenomena are interpreted (Pajares, 1992). Although teachers'

beliefs can be changed, particularly at the inservice level, change may only

occur when a teacher is open-minded and willing to explore new ideas

(Richardson, 1996).

Teachers' beliefs and perceptions about their students affect many

aspects of the students' school experience. Korblau (1982) reported that

teachers have beliefs and perceptions of students' "teachability." That is,








33

teachers' beliefs serve as a benchmark upon which their judgments and

behaviors are based. He believes teachers' thoughts and actions about

students are influenced by the attributes they feel characterize "idealized

teachable" students.

Teachers' perceptions of the quality of their relationships with their

students are related to children's feelings of loneliness, school avoidance

desires, and performance on academic tasks. They also are related to teachers'

ratings of various school adjustment outcome indices (Birch & Ladd, 1997).

Many important teacher decisions, including grade retention, are based on

indices such as these. As a result, the quality of the teacher-child relationship

may have a significant impact in terms of the various educational paths

children follow throughout the course of their school experiences (Birch &

Ladd, 1997).

Literature on temperament suggests that teachers' beliefs about

children's temperaments affect their reactions to and interactions with

students (Kean, 1997; Keogh, 1986; Rothbart & Jones, 1998; Teglasi, 1998). For

example, teachers' judgments are influenced by children's temperament,

specifically task orientation (i.e., persistence and activity) and adaptability

(Keogh, 1986). The influence of children's temperaments on teachers' decision








34

strategies was studied in a sample of 321 elementary school children

(kindergarten, first grade, and third grade students) and their 13 teachers

(Pullis & Cadwell, 1982). Teachers rated students in five areas of classroom

functioning or behavior (intelligence, motivation, social skills, academic

performance, and working to potential); rated the students' temperament

characteristics; and, based on brief descriptions of five classroom situations,

reported how frequently they had to monitor the child's behavior in each

situation. A strong and consistent relationship emerged between teachers'

classroom decisions and students' temperament characteristics. Teachers were

particularly sensitive to students' task orientation characteristics students

with positive task orientation characteristics were considered to need less

supervision across all classroom situations (Pullis & Cadwell, 1982).

The effects of teachers' beliefs and values in relation to their classroom

interactions with children identified as having difficult and easy temperament

characteristics were studied in a sample of eight teachers and 32 children (16

with difficult temperaments and 16 with easy temperaments). Teachers

completed rating scales to assess the children's temperaments, and classroom

observations were completed to assess the teacher-child interactions (Kean,

1997). Findings revealed that more negative interactions took place with








35

difficult children than with the easy children. One explanation for this may be

that classrooms typically have clearly defined expectations that children will

complete set tasks, work quietly, and conform to teacher demands. Children

with difficult temperaments may experience problems complying with these

expectations. Findings also indicated that children with easy temperaments

displayed and received considerably more positive emotional and social

behaviors, while children with difficult temperaments displayed and received

considerably more negative emotional and social behaviors (Kean, 1997).

Kean (1997) concluded that early childhood educators should consider their

beliefs and values carefully as they develop more effective teaching techniques

for use with children with differing temperaments.

Teachers' evaluations of students and report card grades also are

influenced by their perceptions of the students' temperament (Keogh, 1986).

Children's task orientation and flexibility are related to teachers' estimates of

ability and grades. Students who were more task oriented and flexible

received higher grades than their achievement scores would predict (Pullis,

1979, as cited in Keogh, 1986). Further, students who met or exceeded

teachers' expectations across the attention span and distractibility

temperament characteristics were perceived by their teachers to be more








36

capable and better adjusted. However, when compared with other students

on objective measures of achievement, these students did not perform

significantly differently from other students (Henderson & Fox, 1998). In

addition, students who were less reactive than expected by their teachers also

were perceived to be more able and better adjusted. These students also

performed better than their peers on standardized achievement tests

(Henderson & Fox, 1998).

In summary, teachers' beliefs affect their decisions, teaching, and

interactions with children (Bloom, 1992; Fang, 1990; Keogh, 1986). A belief can

be defined as a psychologically held understanding about the world that is

considered to be true by the holder (Richardson, 1996). Preservice teachers

often enter college with well-established beliefs about teaching. These beliefs

are developed during an individual's own educational experience as a student

as well as through personal experiences (Buchmann, 1987; Pajares, 1992).

Whether teachers' beliefs can be modified during their professional

experience is unclear (Buchmann, 1987; Lortie, 1975; Nespor, 1987; Pajares,

1992; Richardson, 1996). Teachers' beliefs can affect children's school

experiences, including their academic performance, feelings of loneliness, and

school avoidance desires (Birch & Ladd, 1997). Teachers' beliefs about








37

temperament can affect their interactions with students (Keogh, 1986; Rothbart

& Jones, 1998). Teachers' decisions about students' supervision needs have

been related to temperament (Pullis & Cadwell, 1982). In addition, teacher-

assigned report card grades and teachers' perceptions of students' adjustment

also have been related to teachers' perceptions of students' temperaments

(Henderson & Fox, 1998; Pullis, 1989).


Goodness of Fit

Thomas and Chess' (1977) concept of "goodness of fit" has been found

to have clinical utility and also can be applied to educational settings.

Goodness of fit results when the properties of the environment and its
expectations and demands are in accord with the [child's] own
capacities, characteristics, and style of behaving. When this consonance
between [child] and environment is present, optimal development in a
progressive direction is possible. (p. 12)

Consonance among a child's temperament, environmental demands and

expectations, and other attributes is necessary for optimal development.

However, this does not imply that all behavioral manifestations of the child's

temperament characteristics should be accepted and/or encouraged (Thomas

& Chess, 1977). When consonance among a child's temperament and

environmental expectations and demands does not occur, interactional stress

and conflict result. As a result of a poor fit, the child reacts inappropriately,







38

which may lead to dysfunction in physical, academic, or social adjustment

(Carey, 1998). "The situation in which the poor fit occurs determines where

the symptoms will emerge while the child's temperament and coping

strategies affect the types of symptoms displayed" (Carey, 1998, p. 528).

Although certain temperament characteristics (e.g., high motor activity,

withdrawal tendencies, negative mood, marked distractibility, and extreme

persistence) may be normal for a young child, they may still interfere with

academic achievement, desirable school and play activities, and interpersonal

relations. Appropriate structure and guidance may be necessary when the

consequences of a child's temperament on behavior may be undesirable if

allowed unrestricted expression (Thomas & Chess, 1977). Carey (1998) argued

that the child's temperament itself is not as important as the fit he or she has

with the environment. Specifically, the pathology is not found in the child or

in the circumstances, but in the interaction between the two (Carey, 1998;

Chess & Thomas, 1999; Sameroff & Fiese, 1990).

At least two aspects of goodness of fit exist within the school setting:

children's interpersonal interactions and the content of instructional domains.

Relationships between children and teachers are of particular interest in the

current study. Classroom interactions are believed to influence the degree to








39

which a child experiences a good fit (Saft & Pianta, 2001). Keogh (1986)

suggested that a child's temperament is unlikely to have a direct effect on a

teacher's responses, except when a child's temperament characteristics are

extreme. Instead, the belief that temperament may have an "evocative" (Scarr,

1981, p. 1160) influence on teacher-child relationships is more reasonable. In

other words, children's temperaments evoke reactions from teachers that then

affect the child's school experiences (Keogh, 1986).

In addition, teachers' beliefs may influence the extent to which they will

tolerate behavioral manifestations of students' temperament characteristics

(Kean, 1997). For example, children with easy temperament profiles (i.e.,

approaching, adaptable, and positive in mood) are typically well liked by

teachers. Teachers usually respond to easy children with affection and

warmth and give these children frequent opportunities for instructional and

interpersonal interactions (Keogh, 1986). On the other hand, children with

difficult temperament profiles (i.e., irritable, withdrawing, and negative in

mood) are less likely to have positive, close relationships with their teachers

and instead are frequently limited to instructional or management matters

rather than interpersonal ones (Keogh, 1986). Therefore, depending on their

temperament patterns, the nature of children's school experiences may be








40

quite different. As a result, these differences may have long-term

consequences for children's feelings and attitudes toward themselves and

school (Keogh, 1986).

Teachers' experiences and beliefs about temperament also affect their

relationships with children (Keogh, 1986; Rothbart & Jones, 1998; Teglasi,

1998). For example, teachers may consider children with slow-to-warm-up

temperament profiles to be unmotivated or lazy by teachers. Further, they

may view children with active and/or distractible temperament characteristics

to be obstructive or purposefully mischievous. These beliefs result from

teachers' attributions about the causes of behavior and can affect the teacher-

child relationship as well as teachers' decisions (Keogh, 1986). As a result, the

child's fit in the classroom environment may be affected.

Teachers may react with negative feelings (e.g., anger, disappointment,

frustration, etc.) when conflict results from a poor fit. These feelings can be

particularly strong when the teacher infers that the child is misbehaving

intentionally (Pullis, 1989). As a result, the fit between the teacher and student

can worsen. Attempts to improve the student-teacher relationship and

facilitate a better fit require teachers to manage their feelings by attempting to

be objective and reevaluate the sources of the child's misbehavior (Pullis,








41

1989). Teachers also need to be aware of their personal comfort levels. In

other words, teachers should be aware of the behavioral styles they prefer and

those they may find irritating or uncomfortable. This self-understanding may

be beneficial because teachers may be better able to identify students with

whom they are likely to have a poor fit. This knowledge may then be used to

enhance understanding and to facilitate a better fit (Pullis, 1989).

The second aspect of goodness-of-fit in the school setting is associated

with the content of instructional domains. Certain temperament

characteristics may be more compatible with learning than others (Keogh,

1986). For example, children who are approaching, adaptable, and persistent

may be better able to handle complex and changing instruction. On the other

hand, children who are nonadaptable, nonpersistent, and withdrawing are

more likely to find instruction threatening and uncomfortable (Keogh, 1986).

Children who are approaching, adaptable, and persistent may feel more

comfortable in the classroom setting, a quality that also may promote their

ability to handle classroom demands. On the other hand, children with more

difficult temperament characteristics may have smaller comfort zones, a

quality that could increase the likelihood that they find instruction

threatening.








42

In addition, children's differences in their responses to the unfamiliar

may affect how easily they engage in learning tasks and how readily they

adapt to the expectations and demands of the classroom environment

(Henderson & Fox, 1998). Therefore, certain temperament profiles result in a

generalized response set (Keogh, 1986). Temperament also may affect a

child's preparation for learning. That is, some temperament characteristics

and profiles may set the stage for the acquisition of information, thereby

facilitating learning and a proper fit in the classroom environment (Keogh,

1986). For example, the qualities of low distractibility, high attention span,

and the ability to modulate activity level are important preparatory acts for

learning (Keogh, 1986). By understanding how temperament affects students,

teachers are better able to examine the demands of instructional activities and

determine the manner in which the demands could present problems for

children whose temperament characteristics do not facilitate learning. Thus,

teachers could identify ways to accommodate children's individual differences

and help create a better fit between children and their learning environment

(Pullis, 1989).

In a broad sense, goodness of fit can be seen as a reflection of a comfort

zone. For example, a child's comfort level in the classroom setting may be








43

related to his or her age, temperament, ability level, academic skills, social

competence, and relationships with peers and the teacher. A teacher's comfort

level may be related to his or her educational level, years of experience, beliefs

about teaching, and relationships with students. A good fit may not be

possible if a child or teacher is functioning outside his or her individual

comfort zone.

Relationships between teachers' levels of comfort and children's

temperament characteristics are of interest in this study. Although the

concept of a teacher "comfort zone" (Buysse, Wesley, Keyes, & Bailey, 1996)

has not been applied to temperament and goodness of fit, it has been studied

with regard to children's characteristics and inclusion (e.g., Buysse et al., 1996;

Wesley, Buysse, & Keyes, 2000). Research on individuals' comfort with

inclusion originated with Green and Stoneman (1989). They investigated the

comfort of parents of typically developing preschool children with having

children with disabilities included in their children's class. Parents were most

concerned about and least comfortable with preschoolers who displayed

behavior problems and severe disabilities being included in their children's

classes (Green & Stoneman, 1989).








44

Buysse and colleagues (1996) extended this research by exploring how

comfortable general early childhood educators were in serving individual

children with a variety of disabilities. The study included 52 early childhood

educators who taught in community childcare programs that had begun to

accept children with disabilities after primarily serving typically developing

children. Participants rated a child with disabilities from their classroom on

nine functional domains and then indicated their comfort level in serving

hypothetical children with a variety of disabilities who displayed different

levels of severity. Teachers were asked to complete the first profile on a child

currently in their classroom to provide them with an opportunity to consider

the actual domains of functioning in children with whom they were familiar

before they made judgments about hypothetical cases (Buysse et al., 1996).

Although the teachers were generally comfortable serving children with

special needs, their comfort levels decreased as the severity of the children's

disabilities increased. Further, teachers identified inappropriate behavior as a

key factor for having a limited comfort zone (Buysse et al., 1996). A follow-up

study of 84 early intervention professionals who consulted with teachers

about children with varying types, severity levels, and combinations of

disabilities, found they reported the least amount of comfort when consulting








45

about children with behavior, communication, and social skills disorders

(Wesley et al., 2000).

The findings from these two studies (Buysse et al., 1996; Wesley et al.,

2000) have important implications for the study of temperament and

children's fit in the classroom environment, particularly for children with

difficult temperaments, given their higher probability for developing

behavioral difficulties (Carey & McDevitt, 1995; Carson, 1994; Caspi & Silva,

1995; Thomas et al., 1968). If teachers are uncomfortable with their ability to

teach children with behavioral problems, then serving children with difficult

temperament characteristics also may fall outside their comfort zones. A

teacher's lack of comfort with these extreme characteristics may affect teacher-

child relationships and consequently a child's fit in the classroom.

Despite the impact of temperament and goodness of fit in educational

settings, its limitations also must be addressed. First, certain temperament

traits and patterns are more difficult to accommodate than others. "Children

who are negative and inflexible will fit into a narrower range of settings than

those who are pleasant and adaptable" (Carey, 1998, p. 528). Second, specific

adjustments that can be made in an effort to create a better fit for a child are

limited. Teachers and other school personnel may have the ability to make








46

adjustments in how they deal with certain children, how the physical

environment is laid out, and, to some extent, to the nature of the demands

placed on children. However, the degree of adjustments that can be made to a

somewhat fixed curriculum is limited (Carey, 1998). Third, teachers' ability to

provide individual attention to students is limited. For many teachers, finding

time to plan and implement accommodations and interventions for individual

students is difficult when trying to attend to the needs of their class as a

whole. This difficulty may be exacerbated if a poor teacher-child relationship

exists or if a teacher is operating outside his or her comfort zone in managing

the child's behavior.

In summary, goodness of fit is defined as consonance among a child's

characteristics and behavioral style and the expectations and demands of the

environment (Thomas & Chess, 1977). Such compatibility is thought to be a

key component of optimal development. When consonance between a child's

temperament-based behaviors and environmental expectations and demands

does not occur, interactional stress and conflict often results, leading to a poor

fit for the child. As a result of this poor fit, the child is at risk for academic,

behavioral, and social-emotional difficulties (Carey, 1998).








47

Keogh (1986) suggested there are two aspects of goodness of fit within

the educational setting: children's interpersonal interactions and the content of

instructional domains. With regard to interpersonal relationships,

temperament may have an evocative influence on teacher-child relationships;

different temperament characteristics may evoke positive or negative reactions

from teachers (Keogh, 1986; Scarr, 1981). In addition, teachers' beliefs may

influence the amount and intensity of emotionality they will tolerate from

students (Kean, 1997). As a result, the nature of the teacher-child relationship

likely will be affected. With regard to the content of instructional domain,

certain temperament characteristics may be more compatible with learning

than others. In other words, certain temperament characteristics may affect

how easily children engage in learning tasks and may help set the stage for the

acquisition of new information (Henderson & Fox, 1998; Keogh, 1986). An

understanding of students' temperament profiles may allow teachers to better

accommodate individual differences and thus facilitate a better fit with the

learning environment (Pullis, 1989).

Examined more broadly, goodness of fit can be conceptualized as a

type of comfort zone, a continuum along which a teacher feels at ease teaching

and interacting with a student (Buysse et al., 1996). For example, a teacher








48

may feel less comfortable with his or her ability to teach a child with difficult

temperament characteristics. Studies related to the inclusion of preschool

children with disabilities in regular education settings found teachers and

teacher-consultants felt more discomfort working with children with severe

disabilities, including those with behavior problems (Buysse et al., 1996;

Wesley et al., 2000). Therefore, when a child and his or her teacher feel

comfortable in the classroom setting, goodness of fit is likely to be fostered.














CHAPTER 3
METHODS

Participants and Settings

The participants included 88 Florida kindergarten teachers from

Alachua, Citrus, Duval, and Seminole counties. Permission to conduct

research was received in each school district prior to data collection. A letter

inviting participation (see Appendix A) was sent to elementary school

principals who approved or declined school-based participation. Research

packets, including consent forms (see Appendix B) and measurement

instruments, were distributed to kindergarten teachers at schools in which the

principal provided entry permission to the researcher.

The researcher was available to discuss the study with kindergarten

teachers in person or via phone or e-mail. Follow-up was done as necessary to

receive completed data from participating teachers or to collect study

materials from teachers who did not wish to participate. All kindergarten

teachers, including participants and those who chose not to participate, were

treated fairly, as prescribed by the American Psychological Association's

ethical guidelines (American Educational Research Association et al., 1999).

49








50

Thirty-eight principals in the four school districts allowed the

researcher to approach his or her kindergarten teachers, while 22 did not

provide entry permission. Most principals who did not allow the researcher

to contact their kindergarten teachers indicated that the teachers were not

interested in participating.

Two hundred forty participant research packets were distributed to

kindergarten teachers. Twenty-three teachers declined to participate and

returned their incomplete packets. One hundred twenty-nine packets were

not returned. The researcher received 88 completed packets. Table 3 provides

a summary of the demographic information provided by participants.

Participants were primarily female (98.85%) and ranged in age from 22 to 66

(x = 40.82, sd = 12.15). The majority hold a bachelor's degree (67.82%) and

have elementary certification with an early childhood endorsement (72.73%).

Participants' teaching experiences ranged from one to 35 years (x = 15.99, sd =

10.90). Their experience teaching kindergarten ranged from one-half to 35

years (x = 10.23, sd = 9.09).

A summary of participants' teaching environments during the 2001-

2002 academic year is provided in Table 4. Class sizes ranged from 16 to 34

students (3= 22.59, sd = 3.49). Participants referred a similar number of








51

Table 3

Teacher-Related Demographic Information Provided by Participants on the
Teacher Information Survey (TIS)

Mean/Standard
Variable Deviation Percent
Gender (n = 87*)
Female 98.85%
Male 1.15%

Ethnicity (n = 86)
Non-Hispanic, White 87.21%
African American 10.47%
Hispanic 1.16%
Asian 0.00%
Multiracial 1.16%
Other 0.00%

Age (n = 85)
Under 25 14.12%
25 35 27.06%
36 45 15.29%
46 55 30.59%
Over 55 12.94%

Most Advanced Educational Degree (n = 87)
Bachelors 67.82%
Masters 31.03%
Doctoral 1.15%

Type of Certification** (n = 87)
Elementary certification only 5.68%
Elementary certification with an early 72.73%
childhood endorsement
Birth to age four certification 3.41%
Age three to grade three certification 21.59%
Pre-K handicapped endorsement 3.41%
Other 17.05%








52

Table 3 Continued

Mean/Standard
Variable Deviation Percent
Years of Teaching Experience X = 15.99
sd = 10.90

Years of Experience Teaching Kindergarten X = 10.23
sd = 9.09

*Not all participants completed every item on the TIS.
**Percentages do not equal 100% as some participants were certified in more
than one area.


Table 4

Teaching Environment Demographic Information Provided by Participants on
the Teacher Information Survey (TIS)

Mean/Standard
Variable Deviation Percent
Number of Students in Class (n = 88) x = 22.59
sd = 3.49

Number of Students Referred for Retention x = 2.19
(n = 88) sd = 2.26

Number of Students Referred for Screening x = 2.14
by Child Study Team (n = 88) sd = 1.71

Estimated Socioeconomic Status of Students
(n = 88)
Low 21.84%
Low/Middle 43.68%
Middle 20.69%
Middle/High 11.49%
High 0%







53

children for retention (x = 2.19, sd = 2.26) as they did for special education

testing (x = 2.14, sd = 1.71). The majority of participants rated their school

populations' socioeconomic status as low/middle class (43.68%).


Measures

Child Vignettes

Information on teachers' beliefs about school adjustment was obtained

through ratings on eight vignettes about hypothetical kindergarten children

(see Appendix C). Five variables were held constant across all eight vignettes:

gender, race, physical health, socioeconomic status, and academic ability. All

eight children were described as Caucasian males who are physically healthy,

Head Start graduates, and of lower middle socioeconomic status. The children

had borderline academic ability (i.e., in the "slow learner" range). Three

variables were modified across the eight vignettes: temperament,

developmental maturity, and parent involvement. These variables were

dichotomous in nature; children were presented as having either an easy or

difficult temperament, as being either developmentally mature or immature,

and as having either involved or uninvolved parents.

As part of the instrument development, a pilot study was conducted to

examine the face validity of the vignettes. The participants were five








54

kindergarten teachers from Duval County. An elementary school was

identified and appropriate entry permission was obtained from the principal.

The researcher met with the kindergarten teachers at the school to discuss the

study, obtain consent for participation (see Appendix D), and distribute

materials.

Pilot study participants were asked to read the child vignettes and

complete the School Adjustment and Success Questionnaire (described below)

for each of the eight children. The vignettes were presented to pilot study

participants in random order. After the participants completed the vignette

packets, the researcher met with them to conduct a focus group. The purpose

of the focus group was to obtain participants' feedback on the vignettes and

questionnaire. The researcher asked participants about the information

presented regarding the children's skills and abilities. For example, the

researcher asked whether sufficient information was provided and whether

the information provided was appropriate of a "slow learner." In addition,

participants were asked whether enough information was provided in each

vignette to be able to answer the questionnaire items. Finally, participants

were asked whether any of the questionnaire items were confusing. This

information was used, in conjunction with dissertation committee members'








55

feedback, to prepare a final draft of the child vignettes and questionnaire to be

used in the reliability study and research study.

When asked about the types of academic skills included about the

children, pilot study participants indicated that information about the

children's knowledge of letter sounds was not included and constituted one of

the major areas students are expected to learn during kindergarten.

Participants also assisted the researcher in revising the children's achievement

level so that it was appropriate of "slow learners" at the end of the third nine

weeks grading period. The description was modified prior to conducting the

reliability study. Participants expressed the belief that sufficient information

was presented about each child to answer the questionnaire items. In

addition, they did not express any specific concerns about questionnaire items.


Teachers' Perceptions of School Adjustment and Success

After reading each vignette, participants were asked to respond to the

School Adjustment and Success Questionnaire (see Appendix C). The

questionnaire included 18 items. Fifteen items were adapted from the Teacher

Rating Scale of School Adjustment (Pianta, 1992) and three additional items,

developed by the researcher for this study, related to retention candidacy,

special education referral, and transition to first grade. Participants were







56

asked to rate each child based on the description using a five point Likert scale

ranging from "definitely would not apply" to "definitely would apply."

A reliability study was conducted as a part of the instrument

development. The participants were 105 collegiate students enrolled in

Educational Psychology, Child Development, and Infant Development

courses in the College of Education at the University of Florida. The sample

included some preservice teachers enrolled primarily in the Child

Development and Infant Development courses. The researcher obtained

permission from three course instructors to ask their students to participate.

The researcher met with students in two courses to discuss the study and

distribute consent forms (see Appendix E) and study materials (i.e., a cover

sheet with general instructions and the child vignettes packet). A written

description of the study, consent forms, and study materials were sent to the

instructor of the third course who read the description and distributed

materials to her class. Among the approximately 140 students who received

consent form/study material packets, 105 consented to participate and

completed study materials.

These participants were asked to read the child vignettes and complete

the School Adjustment and Success Questionnaire for each of the eight

children. The vignettes were presented to participants in random order.








57

Participants' ratings, with the seven reverse-scored items adjusted, across all

eight vignettes were used to establish the reliability of the School Adjustment

and Success Questionnaire.

Analyses using Cronbach's Alpha were conducted on the 15 school

adjustment items and the three school success items separately. For items

1-15, 24 of the 840 data sets were excluded from analysis due to missing data

(i.e., participants did not rate all 15 items). Based on 816 cases, the school

adjustment items yielded an a = .9536. For items 16-18, three of the 840 data

sets were excluded from analysis due to missing data (i.e., participants did not

rate all three items). Based on 837 cases, the school success items yielded an

a = .8629. Test scores that yield a reliability coefficient of at least .80 are

considered sufficiently reliable for most research purposes (Gall, Borg, & Gall,

1996). Therefore, analyses supported the use of the School Adjustment and

Success Questionnaire in the research study.


Teacher Temperament Type

Information on teachers' temperament characteristics was acquired

from their self-report ratings on the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory (MBTI), a

measure of temperament type for individuals ages 14 through adulthood

(Briggs & Myers, 1998). This 93-item instrument provides data in each of the







58

three temperament type dichotomies originally defined by Jung, and the

fourth dichotomy described by Myers and Briggs (i.e., extraversion -

introversion, sensing feeling, thinking feeling, and judging perceiving).

Two types of items are presented in a forced-choice format. One type

describes a behavior or attitude and asks the participant to choose a response

based on personal preferences. The second type of item presents two words

and asks the participant to choose the most appealing word. Analysis of the

MBTI provides scores in each of the four temperament type dichotomies.

These scores are used to determine the participant's preference within each

type dichotomy and can be combined to determine the participant's four-letter

temperament type (e.g., ISTJ, ENFP) (Quenk, 2000).

Myers and colleagues (1998) reported estimates of the MBTI's reliability

and validity. For example, internal consistency was estimated using split-half

(logical split-half and consecutive split-half) and coefficient alpha procedures.

Split-half reliabilities of the four scales range from .89 to .94. Coefficient alpha

reliabilities of the four scales range from .88 to .93. In addition, test-retest

reliability of the four scales range from .83 to .97 in three studies (Myers et al.,

1998).








59

With regard to the validity of the MBTI, Myers and colleagues (1998)

reported that four separate exploratory factor analyses produced results that

were almost identical to the hypothesized structure of the MBTI. In addition,

the results of several confirmatory factor analyses are described in the MBTI

manual. When considered together, strong support exists for the construct

validity of the MBTI (Myers et al., 1998).

Myers and colleagues (1998) also provide evidence of concurrent

validity. The results of several studies are presented, including correlations

between the MBTI Form M and the Jungian Type Survey (i.e., E: .68 (p < .01), I:

.66 (p < .01), S: .54 (p < .01), N: .47 (p < .01), T: .33 (p < .01), and F: .23 (p < .05)).

Further, correlations between the MBTI Form G and the 16 Personality Factors

Questionnaire (5th Edition) were reported (e.g., E-extraversion: .68 (p<.05), I-

extraversion: -.61 (p<.05), S-tough-mindedness: .56 (p<.05), N-tough-

mindedness: -.56 (p<.05), J-self-control: .54 (p<.05), and P-self-control: -.57

(p<.05)). In addition, correlations between MBTI Form G and the Million

Index of Personality Styles were reported (e.g., E-extraverting: .67, I-

extraverting: -.71, E-introverting: -.63, I-introverting: .64, S-sensing: .75, N-

sensing: -.75, S-intuiting: -.60, N-intuiting: .60, T-thinking: .62, F-thinking: -

.57, T-feeling: -.62, F-feeling: .64, J-systematizing: .59, P-systematizing: -.60, J-








60

innovating: -.51, and P-innovating: .55 [all p<.01]). Overall, the concurrent

validity studies supported "the predictions of type theory regarding the

meaning of and the behaviors believed to be associated with the four

dichotomies" (Myers et al., 1998, p. 219).


Teacher Demographic Information

Participants also were asked to complete the Teacher Information

Survey, a scale developed by the researcher for this study (see Appendix F).

The purpose of this instrument was to obtain demographic information about

the participants. Teachers provided information about their background (e.g.,

age, gender, ethnicity, educational level, years of experience, etc.) and their

teaching environment (e.g., number of students in their class, average

socioeconomic status of their students, and number of referrals made for

special education and retention).


Procedure

Child Vignettes

Participating teachers were asked to read and respond to questions

pertaining to eight vignettes. The teachers received a packet containing a

cover sheet and the eight vignettes presented in random order. Teachers were








61

instructed to assume that they are kindergarten teachers in a medium-sized

school district. The school is located in a lower-middle class neighborhood

and has approximately 500 students in kindergarten through grade five.

Teachers were told to assume that they are the children's teacher and that it is

the end of the third nine-week grading period. They were instructed that each

of the eight children has certain characteristics in common:

They are Caucasian males who graduated from Head Start preschool
programs. Physically, they are all healthy. Academically, they are
described as slow learners. They catch on slowly to new academic
skills and concepts. For example, they know approximately 35 of 52
upper and lower case letters and approximately one-quarter of their
letter sounds. The children can count from 1 18. Their knowledge of
the days of the week is inconsistent. They have difficulty with concepts
such as before/after, alike/different, and sorting. The children enjoy
being read to, but they have difficulty recalling more than one or two
details from a story. When asked to draw a picture and write a
sentence describing the picture, they often write a few letters rather
than a few words. They have difficulty telling you what they've
written.

Teachers' Perceptions of School Adjustment and Success

Based on the information presented in each vignette, participants were

asked to respond to the School Adjustment and Success Questionnaire. They

were asked to consider the child described in each vignette separately.

Specific instructions for completing the questionnaire were included with the

scale. Teachers were instructed to reflect on the degree to which each of the








62

statements would be characteristic of that particular child. Teachers were

asked to rate each statement on a scale from 1 (definitely would not apply) to

5 (definitely would apply). Teacher's adjustment ratings were entered into a

database and a total adjustment score (the sum of the ratings for the first 15

items, with five reverse-scored items adjusted) was generated for each

vignette. The three school success items also were entered into the database

and a total success score (the sum of the ratings for items 16-18, with two

reverse-scored items adjusted) also was generated for each vignette.


Teacher Temperament Type

Participants were asked to complete the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

(MBTI). A question booklet and answer sheet was included in the packet each

teacher received. Specific instructions were included on the question booklet.

They directed the participant to read each question and mark his or her

answer on the separate answer sheet. The directions indicated that

participants should not spend too much time answering any one question, and

that participants should skip questions for which they could not decide on an

answer and return to it later. The directions also informed the participant that

his or her answers








63

will help show how you like to look at things and how you like to go
about deciding things. There are no 'right' or 'wrong' answers.
Knowing your own preferences and learning about other people's can
help you understand what your strengths are, what kinds of work you
might enjoy, and how people with different preferences can relate to
one another and contribute to society. (Briggs & Myers, 1998, p. 1)

Completed MBTIs were scored using the MBTI scoring templates.

There are four templates, one for each preference dichotomy (i.e., E I, S N,

T F, and J P). Use of the templates provided raw scores that were then

used to determine a participant's preference within each type dichotomy.

Participants' types (e.g., ISTJ, ENFP, etc.) were used in the data analyses.

Research suggests that teachers primarily have ESFJ or ISFJ types (Grindler &

Stratton, 1990; Macdaid et al., 1986). A data reduction procedure was used to

categorize participants' types as either the "teacher type" (i.e., ESFJ or ISFJ;

n = 34) or the "non-teacher type" (i.e., all other types; n = 54). Nine of the 87

participants had a three-letter type and one participant had a two-letter type

as they did not demonstrate a clear preference on at least one type dichotomy.

Figure 1 provides a summary of the distribution of MBTI types.

In appreciation for their participation, teachers received a written

report following the completion of their participation in the study, which

described their temperament type based on their responses to the MBTI.

Reports provided general information about the participant's temperament








64

type as well as how a teacher's type may affect his or her interactions with

students.


Teacher Demographic Information

Participants were asked to complete the 12-item Teacher Information

Survey that provided categorical data (i.e., educational degree, age, gender,

ethnicity, years of experience, educational background, number of students in

class, and students' socioeconomic status). In addition, it asked about the

teachers' special education and retention referrals during the 2001-2002 school

year. The Teacher Information Survey also asked teachers whether they had

completed the MBTI prior to participating in the current study.











Figure 1



Summary of Participants' Types on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator


Distribution of Types

Main Types
All I E IE N S NS F T FT P J PJ
Count 88 33 54 1 28 53 7 75 11 2 28 58 2
Percent 100% 38% 61% 1% 32% 60% 8% 85% 13% 2% 32% 66% 2%














Combinations
All INFP INFJ INTP INTJ ISFP ISFJ ISTP ISTJ ENFP ENFJ ENTP ENTJ ESFP ESFJ ESTP ESTJ Other
Count 88 2 2 1 1 2 21 1 0 11 9 0 1 6 13 3 4 11
Percent 100% 2% 2% 1% 1% 2% 24% 1% 0% 13% 10% 0% 1% 7% 15% 3% 5% 13%


















0.\
U'













CHAPTER 4
RESULTS

Introduction

This study examined teachers' judgments of children's school

adjustment and success based on child- and teacher-related variables (i.e.,

child temperament, child developmental maturity, parent involvement, and

teacher temperament type). Specifically, this study addressed the following

questions:

1. What relationships exist among teachers' perceptions of children's

school adjustment and the four explanatory variables (i.e., child

temperament, child developmental maturity, parental involvement,

and teacher temperament type)?

2. What relationships exist among teachers' perceptions of children's

school success and the four explanatory variables (i.e., child

temperament, child developmental maturity, parental involvement,

and teacher temperament type)?

The study contained four explanatory variables: child temperament,

child developmental maturity, parent involvement, and teacher temperament


66








67

type. All four were measured on an ordinal scale (easy temperament vs.

difficult temperament, developmentally mature vs. developmentally

immature, involved parents vs. uninvolved parents, and ESFJ/ISFJ vs. other

types). The study contained two outcome variables: teacher perceptions of

school adjustment and teacher perceptions of school success. Outcome

variables also were measured on an ordinal scale.

Descriptive statistics (e.g., means and standard deviations; presented in

Chapter 3) were used to examine characteristics of the participants based on

information provided on the Teacher Information Survey. In addition, a data

reduction procedure was used to examine participants' responses to the

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and determine the frequency count of the 16

types in the sample. Participants' types were collapsed into dichotomous

categories the "teacher type" (i.e., ESFJ/ISFJ) and "non-teacher type" (i.e., all

other types).

To address both research questions, split plot repeated measures

analysis of variance procedures were used. An alpha level of .05 was used for

initial and posthoc analyses. For question one, a split plot repeated measures

ANOVA was used to determine whether relationships exist among teachers'

perceptions of school adjustment and the explanatory variables (i.e., child








68

temperament, child developmental maturity, parental involvement, and

teacher temperament type). Child temperament, child developmental

maturity, and parent involvement were entered as within subjects variables.

Teacher temperament was entered as a between subjects variable. A series of

paired samples t-tests with a Bonferroni adjustment were conducted post hoc

to explore significant effects.

For question two, a split plot repeated measures ANOVA was used to

determine whether relationships exist among teachers' perceptions of school

success and the explanatory variables (i.e., child temperament, child

developmental maturity, parental involvement, and teacher temperament

type). Child temperament, child developmental maturity, and parent

involvement were entered as within subjects variables. Teacher temperament

was entered as a between subjects variable. Post-hoc analyses, using paired

samples t-tests with a Bonferroni adjustment, were conducted to explore

significant effects.


Teachers' Perceptions of Children's School Adjustment

Relationships among teachers' perceptions of children's school

adjustment and child temperament (ChTemp), child developmental maturity

(Maturity), parental involvement (Involve), and teacher temperament type








69

(TchTemp) were examined through the use of a split plot repeated measures

analysis of variance. As seen in Tables 5 and 6, main effects were observed for

the child temperament (F(1, 84) = 1114.018, p < .01), developmental maturity

(F(, 84) = 195.580, p < .01), parent involvement (F(, 84) = 22.874, p < .01), and

teacher temperament (F(1, 84) = 437.243, p < .05) variables. In addition,

significant interactions were found between child temperament and

developmental maturity (F(, 84) = 7.242, p < .01); child temperament and parent

involvement (F(, 84) = 16.492, p < .01); developmental maturity and parent

involvement (F(1, 84) = 6.739, p < .05); child temperament, developmental

maturity, and teacher temperament (F(, 84)= 5.822, p < .05); and child

temperament, developmental maturity, and parent involvement

(F(, 84) = 13.946, p < .01).

Post-hoc paired samples t-tests with a Bonferroni correction were

conducted to examine the nature of the child temperament by developmental

maturity by teacher temperament interaction and the child temperament by

developmental maturity by parent involvement interaction. Table 7 provides

a summary of the mean school adjustment ratings for the child temperament

by developmental maturity by teacher temperament interaction. The

proportion of the total variance accounted for by this interaction is .065.








70

Adjustment ratings are significantly higher for children with easy

temperament styles who are developmentally mature as rated by participants

with the non-teacher temperament type and lowest for children with difficult

temperaments who are developmentally immature as rated by participants

with the teacher type (t(6) = -24.159, p < .01; see Table 8). A paired samples t-

test indicates that mean differences between adjustment ratings by non-

teacher type participants for difficult, developmentally immature children and

difficult, developmentally mature children are larger than mean differences

between adjustment ratings by non-teacher type participants for easy,

developmentally immature children and easy, developmentally mature

children (t(1os) = 9.589, p < .01). Further, paired samples t-test results indicate

that mean differences between adjustment ratings by non-teacher type

participants for easy, developmentally immature children and easy,

developmentally mature children were significantly larger than mean

differences between adjustment ratings by teacher type participants for easy,

developmentally immature children and easy, developmentally mature

children (t(65) = -11.911, p> .01).








71

Table 5

Summary for School Adjustment Split Plot Repeated Measures ANOVA for
Within Subjects Effects

Source dfl df2 MS (Effect) F p 1
ChTemp 1 84 117673.872 1114.018 .000 .930

Maturity 1 84 6316.446 195.580 .000 .700

Involve 1 84 755.866 22.874 .000 .214

ChTemp TchTemp 1 84 2.326 .022 .882 .000

Maturity TchTemp 1 84 .748 .023 .879 .000

Involve TchTemp 1 84 16.017 .485 .488 .006

ChTemp Maturity 1 84 269.510 7.242 .009 .079

ChTemp Maturity *
ChTempMaturity 1 84 216.661 5.822 .018 .065
TchTemp

ChTemp Involve 1 84 445.778 16.492 .000 .164

ChTemp Involve *
ChTemp Involve 1 84 5.081 .188 .666 .002
TchTemp

Maturity Involve 1 84 195.529 6.739 ** .011 .074

Maturity Involve *
MaturityInvolve 1 84 15.471 .533 .467 .006
TchTemp

ChTemp Maturity *84 479.314 13.946 .000 .142
Involve

ChTemp Maturity .036 .850 .000
Involve TchTemp


Note: ChTemp = child temperament; Maturity = developmental maturity;
Involve = parent involvement; TchTemp = teacher temperament type

* p <.05
** < .05








72

Table 6

Summary for School Adjustment Split Plot Repeated Measures ANOVA for
Between Subjects Effects

Source dfl MS F P
Intercept 1 1621934.802 18197.574 .000 .995

TchTemp 1 437.243 4.906 ** .029 .055

Error 84 89.129



Table 7

Mean Adjustment Ratings for Child Temperament by Developmental
Maturity by Teacher Temperament Interaction Effect

95% Confidence
Interval of the
Difference
Std. Lower Upper
Interaction Variables Mean Error Bound Bound
Immature 32.875 .765 31.354 34.396
Non- Difficult
Nn- Mature 41.433 .805 39.831 43.034
Teacher
rImmature 61.933 .791 60.361 63.505
Type Easy 60.361 63.505
ype Easy Mature 65.635 .826 63.992 67.278
Immature 32.206 .946 30.325 34.086
Difficult
Teacher Mature 38.603 .996 36.622 40.584
Type Easy Immature 59.206 .978 57.262 61.150
Mature 65.338 1.022 63.306 67.370








73

Table 8

Paired Samples T-Tests for Adjustment Ratings for Child Temperament by
Developmental Maturity by Teacher Temperament Interaction Effect

95% Confidence
Interval of the
Difference
Std. Std. Lower Upper
Pair Mean Dev. Error t df Sig. Bound Bound
Non-Tch
TdcType/ Ty
Difficut/ Type -3432 1154 1.42 -24.159 65 .000 -37.16 -31.48
hEasy/
Immature
Mature
CaseA1 CaseB2 15.189 15862 1541 9.859* 105 .000 12134 18244
CaseC3 CaseD4 -2424 12278 1511 -.160 65 .73 -3261 2776
CaseA CaseC -3246 10768 1336 -2431 64 .018 -5.914 -578
CaseB CaseD -18.723 12673 157 -11.911* 64 .000 -21863 -15582

* <.01
1Case A = mean differences between ratings by non-teacher type participants
for difficult, developmentally immature children and difficult,
developmentally mature children
2Case B = mean differences between ratings by non-teacher type participants
for easy, developmentally immature children and easy, developmentally
mature children
3 Case C = mean differences between ratings by teacher type participants for
difficult, developmentally immature children and difficult, developmentally
mature children
4Case D = mean differences between ratings by teacher type participants for
easy, developmentally immature children and easy, developmentally mature
children







74

A summary of mean school adjustment ratings for the child

temperament by developmental maturity by parent involvement interaction is

provided in Table 9. A paired samples t-test indicates that adjustment ratings

are significantly higher for the child with an easy temperament style who is

developmentally mature and has involved parents than ratings for the child

with a difficult temperament who is developmentally immature and has

uninvolved parents (t(87) = -33.683, p < .006; see Table 10). The proportion of

total variance accounted for by the child temperament by developmental

maturity by parent involvement interaction is .142.

Further examination of this interaction using the paired samples t-test

procedure indicated five significant pairs. First, ratings for the child with a

difficult temperament who is developmentally immature and has involved

parents are significantly higher than ratings for the child with a difficult

temperament who is developmentally immature and has uninvolved parents

(t(86) = -8.673, p < .006). Second, ratings for the difficult child who is

developmentally mature and has uninvolved parents are significantly higher

than ratings for the difficult child who is developmentally immature and has

uninvolved parents (t(87 = -12.954, p < .006). Third, adjustment ratings are

significantly higher for the easy, developmentally immature child with








75

Table 9

Mean Adjustment Ratings for Child Temperament by Developmental
Maturity by Parent Involvement Interaction Effect

95% Confidence
Interval of the
Difference
Std. Lower Upper
Interaction Variables Mean Error Bound Bound
Uninvolved 29.247 .682 27.890 30.603
Immature
Involved 35.834 .756 34.331 37.337
Difficult
u Uninvolved 39.521 .725 38.079 40.964
Mature
Involved 40.514 .859 38.806 42.222
Uninvolved 60.629 .647 59.343 61.915
Immature
Involved 60.510 .843 58.833 62.186
Easy Uninvolved 64.929 .843 63.253 66.606
Mature
Involved 66.044 .759 64.535 67.552


Table 10

Paired Samples T-Tests of Adjustment Ratings for Child Temperament by
Developmental Maturity by Parent Involvement Interaction Effect

95% Confidence
Interval of the
Difference
Std. Std. Lower Upper
Pair Mean Dev. Error t df Sig. Bound Bound
Diffcult/ Easy/
Immature/ Mature/ -36.86 10.27 1.09 -33.683* 87 .000 -39.04 -34.69
Uninvolved Involved

Difficult/ Diffiult/
Immature/ Immature/ -6.45 6.93 .74 -8.673* 86 .000 -7.93 -4.97
Uninvolved Involved








76

Table 10 Continued

95% Confidence
Interval of the
Difference
Std. Std. Lower Upper
Pair Mean Dev. Error t df Sig. Bound Bound
Difficalt/ Difficult/
Mature/ Mature/ -1.02 8.44 .90 -1.131 86 .261 -2.82 .78
Uninvolved Involved

Difficult/ Difficult/
Immature/ Mature/ -10.74 7.78 .83 -12.954* 87 .000 -12.39 -9.09
Uninvolved Uninvolved

Difficult/ Difficult
Immature/ Mature/ -4.99 8.96 .97 -5.163* 85 .000 -6.91 -3.07
Involved Involved

Easy/ Easy/
Immature/ Immature/ .25 7.54 .80 .311 87 .756 -1.35 1.85
Uninvolved Involved

Easy/ Easy/
Mature/ Mature/ -1.14 8.22 .88 -1.297 87 .198 -2.88 .60
Uninvolved Involved

Easy/ Easy/
Immate/ Mature/ -4.24 8.21 .87 -4.845* 87 .000 -5.98 -2.50
Involved Uninvolved

Easy/ Easy/
Immature/ Mature/ -5.38 8.47 .90 -5.951* 87 .000 -7.17 -3.58
Involved Involved


* p<.006








77

involved parents than ratings for the easy, developmentally mature child with

involved parents (t(85) = -5.163, p < .006). Fourth, adjustment ratings were

significantly higher for the child with easy temperament characteristics who is

developmentally mature and has uninvolved parents than for the easy child

who is developmentally immature and has involved parents (t(87 = -4.845,

p < .006). Finally, adjustment ratings for the easy, developmentally mature

child with have involved parents are significantly higher than ratings for the

easy, developmentally immature child with involved parents (t(8s7 = -5.951,

p <.006).


Teachers' Perceptions of Children's School Success

A split plot repeated measures analysis of variance was conducted to

explore the relationships among teachers' perceptions of children's school

success and child temperament (ChTemp), child developmental maturity

(Maturity), parental involvement (Involve), and teacher temperament type

(TchTemp). As seen in Tables 11 and 12, significant main effects were

observed for the child temperament (F(, 84) = 197.729, p < .01) and

developmental maturity (F(, 84) = 161.982, p < .01) variables. In addition,

significant interaction effects were found for child temperament and








78

Table 11

Summary for School Success Split Plot Repeated Measures ANOVA for
Within Subjects Effects

Source dfl df2 MS F p2 R
ChTemp 1 84 2248.601 197.729 .000 .702

Maturity 1 84 1121.699 161.982 .000 .659

Involve 1 84 2.205 .585 .446 .007

ChTemp TchTemp 1 84 2.473 .217 .642 .003

Maturity TchTemp 1 84 1.537E-03 .000 .988 .000

Involve TchTemp 1 84 1.263 .335 .564 .004

ChTemp Maturity 1 84 18.491 5.012 ** .028 .056

ChTemp Maturity 84 4.316 1.170 .282 .014
TchTemp

ChTemp Involve 1 84 12.248 2.918 .091 .034

ChTemp Involve 84 3.294 .785 .378 .009
TchTemp

Maturity Involve 1 84 2.125 .557 .457 .007

Maturity* Involve84 .346 .091 .764 .001
TchTemp

ChTemp Maturity* 1 84 22.967 5.679** .019 .063
Involve

ChTemp Maturity 1 84 9.920 2.453 .121 .028
Involve TchTemp


Note: ChTemp = child temperament; Maturity = developmental maturity;
Involve = parent involvement; TchTemp = teacher temperament type
* <.01
** <.05








79

Table 12

Summary for School Success Split Plot Repeated Measures ANOVA for
Between Subjects Effects

Source dfl MS F P2
Intercept 1 50316.141 2099.666 .000 .962

TchTemp 1 1.420 .059 .808 .001

Error 84 23.964


* < .01

developmental maturity (F(, 84) = 5.012, p < .05) and child temperament,

developmental maturity, and parent involvement (F(1,84) = 5.679, p < .05).

A summary of mean school success ratings for the child temperament by

developriental maturity by parent involvement interaction is provided in Table

13. The proportion of total variance accounted for by the interaction is .014, as

measured by the eta squared statistic. Post-hoc tests (i.e., paired samples t-tests

with a Bonferroni adjustment) were conducted to examine the nature of the

child temperament, developmental maturity, and parent involvement

interaction effect (see Table 14). School success ratings are significantly higher

for the child with an easy temperament style and who is developmentally

mature and has involved parents than ratings for the child with a difficult








80

Table 13

Mean School Success Ratings for Child Temperament by Developmental
Maturity by Parent Involvement Interaction Effect

95% Confidence
Interval of the
Difference
Std. Lower Upper
Interaction Variables Mean Error Bound Bound
Uninvolved 5.403 .242 4.921 5.885
Immature
e Involved 5.502 .237 5.032 5.973
Difficult
Uninvolved 8.856 .310 8.240 9.472
Mature
a e Involved 7.975 .320 7.339 8.611
Uninvolved 9.559 .291 8.980 10.138
Immature
Im e Involved 9.456 .360 8.740 10.171
Easy Uninvolved 11.586 .351 10.889 12.284
Mature
Involved 12.006 .330 11.349 12.663



Table 14

Paired Samples T-Tests of Success Ratings for Child Temperament by
Developmental Maturity by Parent Involvement Interaction Effect

95% Confidence
Interval of the
Difference
Std. Std. Lower Upper
Pair Mean Dev. Error t df Sig. Bound Bound
Difficult/ Easy/
Immature/ Mature/ -6.70 3.52 .38 -17.751* 86 .000 -7.45 -5.95
Uninvolved Involved

Difficult/ Difficult/
Immature/ Immature/ -.24 2.56 .27 -.881 86 .381 -.79 .30
Uninvolved Involved








81

Table 14 Continued

95% Confidence
Interval of the
Difference
Std. Std. Lower Upper
Pair Mean Dev. Error t df Sig. Bound Bound
Difficult/ Diffiult/
Mature/ Mature/ .91 2.99 .32 2.853* 87 .005 .28 1.54
Uninvolved Involved

Difficult/ Difficult/
Immature/ Mature/ -3.57 2.96 .32 -11.298* 87 .000 -4.20 -2.94
Uninvolved Uninvolved

Diffiult/ Difficul/
Immature/ Mature/ -2.40 3.35 .36 -6.689* 86 .000 -3.12 -1.69
Involved Involved

Easy/ Easy/
Immature/ Immature/ .14 3.05 .33 .421 86 .675 -.51 .79
Uninvolved Involved

Easy/ Easy/
Mature/ Mature/ -.53 2.64 .28 -1.871 86 .065 -1.09 .03
Uninvolved Involved

Easy/ Easy/
Immature/ Mature/ -2.01 3.49 .37 -5.377* 86 .000 -2.76 -1.27
Involved Uninvolved

Easy/ Easy/
Immature/ Mature/ -2.54 2.82 .30 -8.392* 86 .000 -3.14 -1.94
Involved Involved

* <.006








82

temperament who is developmentally immature and has uninvolved parents

(t(8) = -17.751, p <.006).

Further examination of this interaction using the paired samples t-test

procedure indicated five significant pairs. First, ratings for the difficult child

who is developmentally mature and has uninvolved parents were

significantly higher than ratings for the difficult child who is developmentally

mature with involved parents (t(87) = 2.853, p < .006). Second, ratings for the

child with difficult temperament characteristics who is developmentally

mature with uninvolved parents are significantly higher than ratings for the

difficult child who is developmentally immature with uninvolved parents

(t(8) = -11.298, p < .006). Third, ratings were significantly higher for the difficult

child with involved parents when the child was developmentally mature than

when he was developmentally immature (t(86) = -6.689, p < .01). Fourth, ratings

for the easy, developmentally mature child with uninvolved parents are

significantly higher than ratings for the easy, developmentally immature child

with involved parents (t(86) = -5.377, p < .006). Finally, ratings for the easy,

developmentally mature child with involved parents were significantly higher

than ratings for the easy, developmentally immature child with involved

parents (t(86) = -8.392, p < .006).













CHAPTER 5
DISCUSSION

Introduction

Temperament refers to a person's behavioral style, a set of

constitutionally determined, dispositional characteristics that influence the

manner in which an individual's actions are expressed (Stelmack & Stalikas,

1991; Thomas, et al., 1968). Temperament affects how individuals respond to

objective features in the environment and influences future development (e.g.,

Bates, 1980; Carey, 1981; Carey & McDevitt, 1995; Carson, 1994; Caspi & Silva,

1995; Rothbart et al., 1994; Thomas & Chess, 1977). As a result, temperament

contributes to both normal and pathological development (Thomas & Chess,

1989).

Temperament has been linked to academic, behavioral, and social

adjustment (Carey, 1998). In addition, a child's academic performance and

interactions with teachers may affect the child's school adjustment and, as a

result, his or her fit with the classroom environment (Birch & Ladd, 1997;

Keogh, 2003; Martin & Gaddis 1989). Goodness of fit, defined as consonance

among a child's capabilities, characteristics, and style of behaving and the


83







84

expectations and demands of the child's environment, contributes to positive

developmental outcomes (Thomas & Chess, 1977).

The purpose of this study was to investigate relationships among a

number of child- and teacher-related variables that may affect a child's school

adjustment and success. If relationships among children's temperament and

variables that may affect goodness of fit can be identified, researchers and

practitioners may gain a better understanding of why some children are

successful in school-related activities while others face significant challenges.

Specifically, this study examined relationships among teacher's perceptions of

kindergarten children's school adjustment and success based on child

temperament, child developmental maturity, parent involvement, and teacher

temperament type.

School adjustment refers to how well suited a child is to the various

learning experiences encountered in schools (Skarpness & Carson, 1987).

Higher school adjustment ratings in the current study indicate a child is more

likely to seek challenges, enjoy school, and transition easily from one activity

to another. Results of this study suggest that participants' ratings of eight

hypothetical children's school adjustment vary significantly across the child

temperament, child developmental maturity, parent involvement, and teacher







85

temperament variables. In addition, significant interactions exist between

child temperament and developmental maturity; child temperament and

parent involvement; developmental maturity and parent involvement; child

temperament, developmental maturity, and teacher temperament; and child

temperament, developmental maturity, and parent involvement.

School success refers to a child's likelihood of having successful school

outcomes. Higher school success ratings indicate a child is less likely to be a

candidate for retention or referred for special education services and more

likely to make a successful transition to first grade. Results indicate that

participants' ratings of eight hypothetical children's school adjustment vary

significantly for the child temperament and child developmental maturity

variables. In addition, significant interaction effects exist for child

temperament and developmental maturity as well as for child temperament,

developmental maturity, and parent involvement.


Teachers' Perceptions of Children's School Adjustment and Success

Child Temperament

The finding that temperament significantly influences teachers'

perceptions of children's school adjustment and success was both expected

and consistent with a broader body of literature, which suggests that children








86

with difficult temperament characteristics are at-risk for academic, behavioral,

and school adjustment difficulties and poorer developmental outcomes (e.g.,

Carey, 1998; Caspi & Silva, 1995; Keogh, 1989; Skarpness & Carson, 1987).

Children with easy temperament styles have significantly higher school

adjustment and success ratings (indicating teachers perceived them as better

adjusted and more likely to have successful school outcomes) than the

children with difficult temperament styles.

Given the other variables in this study, temperament is consistently

seen as important. Children's temperament explains the highest proportion of

the variance in teachers' perceptions of school adjustment and success ratings.

Further, within each of the significant interaction effects, even with the

influence of the other variable(s), children with easy temperament styles

receive higher school adjustment and success ratings than their difficult child

counterparts.

This highlights the significant role temperament plays in a child's

development and school experiences. Children's temperaments affect their

academic performance (Keogh, 2003; Martin, 1989; Martin & Holbrook, 1985)

and influence teachers' perceptions of whether they will adjust well to and be

successful in the school environment. This is particularly important in the








87

current study when considering that all of the children are described as slow

learners. Despite this apparent similarity in ability level, children with easy

temperament characteristics receive high school adjustment and success

ratings.


Child Developmental Maturity

Research findings suggest that developmental maturity is significantly

related to children's school adjustment and success. Developmentally mature

children are rated as significantly better adjusted and more successful than the

more developmentally immature children. These findings are consistent with

child development theories.

In addition, developmental maturity interacts with other variables. For

example, participants rated children with easy temperaments who are

developmentally mature as the most well-adjusted and successful and

children with difficult temperaments who are developmentally immature as

the least well-adjusted and least likely to be successful. In addition, the

differences between school adjustment and school success ratings for difficult,

developmentally mature and difficult, developmentally immature children

were significantly larger than the difference between ratings for easy,

developmentally mature and easy, developmentally immature children.







88

This indicates that developmental maturity influences participants'

school adjustment and school success ratings for children with difficult

temperaments more so than it does for children with easy temperament styles,

suggesting that while developmental maturity contributes positively to

perceptions of a child's school adjustment and success, it may be particularly

important for children with difficult temperaments. Therefore, developmental

maturity may be a mediating factor that somewhat protects difficult children

from being perceived as more likely to have poor school success outcomes as

well as to have school adjustment difficulties.


Parent Involvement

Results of the study indicate that children with involved parents are

perceived to be better adjusted and more successful than children with

uninvolved parents. This difference is interesting, given that the hypothetical

children in the study had identical borderline readiness skills.

When considering teachers' perceptions of children's school adjustment

and success, other pairings that are significantly different suggest that parent

involvement influenced participants' ratings only for the child described as

difficult and developmentally immature (e.g., the difficult, developmentally

immature child with involved parents was perceived to be better adjusted








89

than the difficult, developmentally immature child with uninvolved parents).

Overall, the child temperament by developmental maturity by parent

involvement interaction further implies that developmental maturity and

parent involvement support teacher's views of a child's school adjustment and

success, particularly for children with difficult temperament styles. This

suggests that parent involvement may be a mediating factor that somewhat

protects difficult, developmentally immature children from school adjustment

difficulties.


Teacher Temperament Type

Research findings suggest that school adjustment ratings by

participants with the non-teacher type are significantly higher than ratings by

the participants with the teacher type. A significant interaction relative to

teachers' perceptions of children's school adjustment exists among the child

temperament, developmental maturity, and teacher temperament variables.

The highest adjustment ratings are observed for children with easy

temperament characteristics who are developmentally mature, as rated by

non-teacher type participants. The lowest adjustment ratings are observed for

children with difficult temperament styles who are developmentally

immature, as rated by participants with the teacher type. Overall, this