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ERIC Number: EJ828006
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Apr
Pages: 16
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1524-0754
The Efficacy of HeadsUp! Reading in Missouri on Teachers' Knowledge of Emergent Literacy: A Satellite-Based Literacy Development Training Course
Henk, Jennifer K.; Morrison, Johnetta W.; Thornburg, Kathy R.; Raya-Carlton, Pamela
NHSA Dialog, v10 n1 p20-35 Apr 2007
Literacy is a concept that is continually evolving (Barr, Watts-Taffe, & Yokota, 2000). It is widely agreed that literacy emerges from a variety of abilities (Dickinson & McCabe, 2001). This perspective on development has implications for interventions because, if literacy-related skills emerge as interrelated systems, then optimal interventions will be those that bolster all relevant abilities rather than focusing on only a single skill area. Thus, the evolution in literacy conceptualization requires changes in the approaches that are used by teachers who are supporting their students' literacy development. The cultural, linguistic, and educational diversity found in the various early childhood program environments today add to the need for change in the methods used to support literacy development. There is research that suggests that quality instruction in the early years of a child's life can dramatically affect later school achievement (see Whitehurst, 1994, 1999). Interventions designed to improve teachers' instructional techniques to promote emergent literacy skills are in constant development, and empirical data is needed to test the efficacy of these interventions. Indeed, Neuman and Seunghee (2001) maintained that teacher education is more cost effective than early intervention programs in improving children's literacy development. The focus of the study discussed here is the efficacy of training in literacy development to early childhood professionals. The method used was a satellite-based distance learning instructional course known as HeadsUp! Reading. The course was made available to hundreds of early childhood professionals in the state of Missouri, free of charge. The goal of the course was to help early childhood educators learn research-based strategies to support children's literacy development (National Head Start Association, n.d.). The National Head Start Association, in collaboration with a number of partners, developed the HeadsUp! Reading course that began broadcasting in states across the country in 2000. This study centered on results from the two years of broadcast in Missouri in 2001-2002 and 2003. This study is unique in that research on professional development in emergent literacy is not prevalent. We found that students who attended the Heads Up! Reading course gained knowledge regarding language and literacy development for young children as a result of attending the course with relative consistency. Unfortunately, our observations of a subset of Year 2 HU!R participants showed no significant differences in the quality and literacy-richness of the early childhood environment based on participation in Heads Up! Reading. While these data could have been quite helpful in determining the extent to which the HeadsUp! Reading course influenced teacher practices related to emergent literacy, it appears that this training program did not affect overall or literacy-specific classroom quality. One explanation for this may be the structural impediments currently in existence in early childhood programs, as identified by the participants in the open-ended questionnaires. While these teachers seem to be understanding the material presented through the HU!R course, they may not have the materials, resources, or additional technical assistance/mentoring necessary to properly implement them. For instance, many early childhood programs are limited in the funding available for additional classroom materials, resources, and training that might have allowed for a more noticeable change in teacher practices or classroom quality and literacy-richness. Another barrier to implementing HU!R concepts and practices in the classroom may be the roles individual teachers have in early childhood programs. Program organization, administration, or goals may not allow for teachers to alter the curriculum or structure of the classroom, which might also have provided more noticeable changes in teacher practices, classroom quality, or the literacy richness of the classroom. The full implementation of HU!R concepts and practices may have resulted in an improvement in environmental quality in these classrooms. (Contains 4 tables and 1 footnote.)
Routledge. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Early Childhood Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Missouri