April 07, 2011

Researchers to discuss quality in Pre-K programs

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- "How do we define and understand quality in Pre-K programs?" That question is the focus of a College of Education and Human Services Scholarship Brown Bag Series lecture at Southern Illinois University Carbondale on Thursday, April 14.

Faculty, staff, students and community members are welcome to attend the presentation, “Multiple Stakeholders’ Perspectives on Pre-K Quality,” from noon to 1 p.m. in Wham 219, the Dean’s Conference Room. Bring your lunch if you’d like. Organizers will provide light refreshments.

Scholars have examined the issue of Pre-K quality using a variety of criteria, including teacher education level and scales rating the environment, but few researchers have done so through an insider’s perspective so a group of SIUC researchers did just that. They used a focus groups method for a study exploring the definitions of quality from parents, teachers, administrators, pre-service teachers, early childhood faculty members, and children. All are stakeholders in this issue, so the team sought a better understanding of what is valuable to each in Pre-K quality. The Brown Bag presenters believe getting this perspective could help all of the stakeholders to better communicate and they’ll present their research during the April lecture.

The presenting research team includes Stacy Thompson, Marla Mallette, Whitney Stewart, Asma Khan and Lindsay DuBois. Thompson is an associate professor of early childhood while Mallette is an associate professor of reading and language studies, both in the curriculum and instruction department.

Thompson’s research interests include quality care for young children, feeding and interventions for families and caregivers, risk-taking behavior in adolescence and fathers of infants with adolescent mothers. She is currently co-authoring a book about feeding strategies and interventions for young children. Thompson’s work has appeared in publications including Children and Youth Services Review, Sex Roles, Marriage and Family Review, Young Children, and Young Exceptional Children.

The focus of Mallette’s research includes literacy instruction, early literacy and learning for students with culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and she studies literacy research methodologies, incorporating various ones into her work. She is the co-editor of The Reading Teacher, and her articles have appeared in publications including Journal of Literacy Research, The Reading Teacher, Reading Research and Instruction, The National Reading Conference Yearbook and Teaching and Teacher Education.

Stewart recently earned her bachelor’s degree from SIUC in early childhood education, specializing in preschool/primary. She is working on her master’s in curriculum and instruction with a reading and language studies specialization. She is a graduate assistant in the Child Development Lab while continuing her work with the research team.

Khan is a second-year doctoral student in curriculum and instruction and she’s specializing in reading and language studies with a focus on teaching English to speakers of other languages. She earned her master’s and bachelor’s degrees at the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh, and after completing her doctoral degree, intends to continue her research in English language teaching during a career in academia. She joined the research team last summer.

DuBois, the newest member of the team, is a junior majoring in early childhood education with a preschool/primary specialty. She is an undergraduate assistant for research marketing and plans to pursue her master’s degree, teach preschool, and eventually become the director of a university child development laboratory.

For more information about the Fourth Annual Scholarship Brown Bag Series, call 618/453-2415 or look online at www.ehs.siu.edu.