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The publisher's final edited version of this article is available at J Learn Disabil See other articles in PMC that cite the published article. Abstract The role of student attention for predicting kindergarten word reading was investigated among 432 students. Using SWAN behavior rating scores, we conducted an exploratory factor analysis, which yielded three distinct factors that reflected selective attention.

In this study, we focused on the role of one of these factors, which we labeled attention-memory behaviors, for predicting reading performance. Teacher ratings of attention predicted word reading above and beyond the contribution of phonological awareness and vocabulary knowledge.

In addition, the relations between four teacher practices and attention ratings for predicting reading performance were examined. Using HLM, significant interactions between student attention and teacher practices observed during literacy instruction were found.

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In general, as ratings of attention improved, better kindergarten word reading performance was associated with high levels of classroom behavior management.

However, by mid-year, better word reading performance was not associated with high levels of teacher task- orienting. A significant three-way interaction was also found among attention, individualized instruction, and teacher task re-directions. The role of regulating kindergarten student attention to support beginning word reading skill development is discussed. In the classroom, self-regulated behaviors are critical to student learning because they enable self-sustained efforts toward achieving a teacher's instructional goals.

Over time, a self-regulated learner has a greater chance of acquiring new academic skills as a result of shared learning goals that bring about purposeful actions before, during, and after instructional activities within a lesson. However, as noted by Schunk 2008there is a need for researchers to more precisely specify the mechanisms that facilitate self-regulation.

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  • Initially, the teacher manages goal-directed learning by guiding student attention to instructional goals and related activities;
  • We suspect that the strength of this relationship for predicting word reading performance is dependent upon the presence of student self-regulation;
  • Lukkarin Koulu Lukkari Primary School In Lukkari school, as in Finland generally, children commence their primary schooling at age 7 or sometimes 6 and proceed through grades 1 - 6 before transferring to second-level school;
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Therefore in this paper, we focus on the role of self-regulated attention as a specific self-regulated behavior for strengthening word reading skill acquisition. The Component Model of Reading CMR proposes that three types of components contribute to the acquisition of reading skills: Consistent with this view, we believe that elements within the classroom learning environment work together to shape how well children learn to read.

For example, in the current study, we hypothesize that interactions between a cognitive component, student attention, and an ecological component, teacher practices, are related to kindergarten reading outcomes. We suspect that the strength of this relationship for predicting word reading performance is dependent upon the presence of student self-regulation.

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In other words, as the need for teacher-regulation of student attention to instruction increases i. In other words, this type of focus could benefit kindergarten students as they begin to acquire reading skills because it would guide learners toward engagement with literacy instruction provided, and away from distractions caused by other elements present within the classroom environment.

Moreover, it would serve to structure classroom learning opportunities by enabling students to: The classroom is a complex learning environment, encompassing both teacher-level characteristics e. Within a typical kindergarten classroom, there are a number of cognitive demands that compete for student attention and, therefore, threaten efforts at goal-directed learning.

This is especially critical for kindergarteners transitioning from preschool or home environments into more formal schooling expectations for learning. Thus, in order to profit from instruction, in addition to acquiring basic skills, a child needs to also cultivate particular self-regulatory behaviors that can successfully manage the learning process.

For example, teachers might align task demands to student abilities i. In other words, they make clear to students that skill practice is important because it improves performance, whereas disruptions hinder learning and achievement. Initially, the teacher manages goal-directed learning by guiding student attention to instructional goals and related activities.

In due course, these practices become routine i. But, why might attention to non-content specific elements of instruction affect reading skill development? Selective Attention Components A recent multi-study investigation of third grade reading found that attention behaviors, as rated by teachers and mothers, was one of the strongest predictors of reading performance, following reading and math skills at school entry Duncan, Dowsett, Claessens, Magnuson, Huston, Klebanov et al.

Combined, these results imply a relationship between self-regulation and attention for supporting early reading competence.

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  3. Therefore in this paper, we focus on the role of self-regulated attention as a specific self-regulated behavior for strengthening word reading skill acquisition. Students can even be in multiple groups.
  4. Within a typical kindergarten classroom, there are a number of cognitive demands that compete for student attention and, therefore, threaten efforts at goal-directed learning. Teachers can learn in practice from one another — sharing curriculum knowledge, methodologies and interests.
  5. Therefore in this paper, we focus on the role of self-regulated attention as a specific self-regulated behavior for strengthening word reading skill acquisition. We anticipate interactions between ratings of student attention and observed teacher practices, two classroom components likely to impact reading skill acquisition Aaron et al.

Barkley 2000 proposed that executive functions may mediate this relation because they play a role in the development of behaviors that allow for the self rather than others to exert control over human activity. For example, knowing when and whether or not to engage in a particular behavior supports planning, intentional resistance to distraction, shifting of actions to meet task demands, persistence to achieve goals, problem solving and strategy choice as discussed in Barkley, 2000.

Moreover, it is possible that stronger selective attention capabilities reduce the need to rely upon teacher-regulated aspects of learning i. In this paper, we will refer to these three executive functioning terms as attention-memory, attention-set shifting, and attention-inhibitory control, respectively, in order to underscore the role that attention as an observed behavior and its underlying elements as theoretical constructs play in classroom-based learning.

For example, the regulation of attention-memory is likely important for acquiring academic skills because it supports the working memory processing needed for complex task performance by keeping information current in mind Garon et al. This would also serve to foster sustained task focus and resistance to forgetting during instruction.

Indeed, studies of individual differences in working memory span among schoolchildren suggest that deficient working memory constrains the demonstration of behaviors that facilitate classroom learning. In a related manner, attention-set shifting capabilities allow learners to move away from irrelevant mental states toward more goal-appropriate ones Miyake et al. This may include flexible changes in emotional states e.

For example, set shifting may support the maintenance of instructional goals during transitions between activities by resisting perseveration on prior events and helping the child to effortlessly advance to the next task.

  • Combined, these results imply a relationship between self-regulation and attention for supporting early reading competence;
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  • Teacher ratings of attention predicted word reading above and beyond the contribution of phonological awareness and vocabulary knowledge.

For example, inhibitory control may enable the child to sit still during instructional activities or suppress task-irrelevant thoughts. Thus, together, the three selective attention functions likely support reading skill development by sustaining a goal-directed focus on instruction-related activities.

Moreover, in doing so, they also decrease the influence of competing and irrelevant cognitive demands, which facilitates purposeful engagement. The Current Study Findings from a recent longitudinal study of beginning reading indicate a negative relationship between teacher ratings of student inattention and word reading performance Dally, 2006.

There are at least two possible explanations for the relationship between inattention and poor reading. Dally found that kindergarten inattentiveness predicted second grade deletion skills above and beyond the contribution of letter sound knowledge and prior phonological skills, suggesting a particular role for attention in phonological processing.

That is, attention may enable beginning readers to actively attend to symbol and sound correspondences needed for decoding Wagner, Torgesen, Rashotte, Hecht, Barker, Burgess, et. In this study we consider a second possibility, which is that attention supports the development of emerging reading skills by helping students regulate the cognitive demands inherently part of learning within a kindergarten the to effortlessly transition from class room to a web room environment.

To this end, we examine the predictive relationship between teacher ratings of attention-based behaviors and word reading performance. To account for the possibility that the role of attention in kindergarten word reading performance is restricted to phonological processing support as described above we statistically control for phonological awareness skills in our models.

That is, we assume that the skill of learning to read words is impacted both by student attention capabilities exhibited in the classroom and teacher practices used during literacy instruction. In particular, we explore the relations between selective attention and three teacher practices task orienting, behavior management, and individualizing instruction associated with achievement among young students.

We anticipate interactions between ratings of student attention and observed teacher practices, two classroom components likely to impact reading skill acquisition Aaron et al.

In other words, we expect that these teacher practices will play a different role in predicting word reading performance to the extent that they regulate student attention in support of literacy instruction. In classrooms observed three times during the school year fall, winter, and springstudents in Cameron et al.

One interpretation of these results is that by mid-year, students had sufficiently internalized teacher orienting behaviors, resulting in the need for less evident teacher regulation and allowing for greater student self-regulation. We view task orienting as a means for preparing students for instructional learning opportunities by drawing their attention to upcoming expectations for action e. Thus, we suspect that this teacher support may impact students differently depending upon their ability to attend to classroom routines as well as stay organized across the school day.

In other words, consistent with the findings from Cameron et al. On the contrary, we expect the reading skill development of students with weak attention i. Behavior management A second variable that might impact the development of reading skills may involve how well the teacher manages student behaviors in the classroom. We suspect that teacher-implemented behavior management positively impacts beginning reading achievement by directing students to focus on instructional activities rather than to problem behaviors that may disrupt learning.

Thus, we hypothesize that when implemented effectively, high levels of behavior management are positively associated with word reading performance. In this study we distinguish between teacher re-directs i.

Relations Among Student Attention Behaviors, Teacher Practices, and Beginning Word Reading Skill

That is, in line with our hypotheses regarding the role of attention in literacy skill learning, the use of behavior management for reducing disruptive behaviors may play a different role than teacher re-directs in supporting beginning reading skill development. That is, among students with weak attention, teacher redirects are likely to be critical to reading skill acquisition because these students require external attention regulationwhereas we anticipate a smaller role among students with average or better attention.

Individualized instruction In addition, the use of individualized instruction has been found to positively contribute to first grade reading skill development Connor, Piasta, Fishman, Glasney, Schatschneider, Crowe, et.

That is, greater growth in word reading was found among students participating in a classroom intervention designed to support teacher delivery of differentiated i. These results suggest that small group instruction alone is insufficient to support beginning word reading, but rather, that teacher alignment of student ability to task demands is also needed.

However, the success of this method may be affected by how well students can attend to the instructional activities provided. That is, even under conditions of 1: Similarly, we expect the effectiveness of individualized instructional practices to be affected by student attention. In other words, consistent with the findings in Connor et al.

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However, in line with our proposed role for attention in classroom learning, we expect that the general effect of individualized instruction may be less powerful in benefitting word reading performance among students with weak attention. That is, we suspect that weak attention may mediate the effectiveness of individualized instruction i.

In sum, we propose that student attention impacts beginning literacy skill development, and furthermore, interacts with particular instructional practices to support kindergarten word reading performance.

Thus, we had the following overarching research questions: Are teacher ratings of observed student attention behaviors related to kindergarten word reading above and beyond the contribution of vocabulary and phonological awareness?

Which attention behaviors are most predictive of kindergarten word reading performance? What effect do classroom instructional practices have on this predictive relationship? That is, do student attention-memory behaviors interact with teacher use of task-orienting, behavior management techniques, and individualized instruction?

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  3. This would also serve to foster sustained task focus and resistance to forgetting during instruction.
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Method Participants Four hundred forty-two kindergarten children participated in the current study. Mean age for the sample was 5. Student racial composition was 58. Gender was fairly evenly distributed across the sample: All students were taught in general education classrooms that used the Imagine It!

During this second year of the project, all teachers i. Previous research conducted with teacher ratings has provided an adequate account of classroom behaviors and their related cognitive processes e. One of the distinct advantages to using the SWAN is that it captures diverse abilities across the continuum of attention behaviors.

For example, in a recent study of twins ages 3, 7, 10, and 12 that compared the use of the SWAN to the Child Behavior Checklist, SWAN scores were found to be normally distributed rather than skewed toward extreme behaviors i. Our primary interest in examining the unique contributions of particular types of attention behaviors to early literacy skill acquisition guided our decision to use factor scores of test items, rather than a summed raw score total for each student, as it is used in clinical practice.

Thus, we conducted a principal components factor analysis on the teacher rating scores, which allowed us to identify a latent variable structure among test items. We used two methods for identifying factors, The Kaiser-Guttman rule i. Because we assumed that the factor scores were correlated and reflected the same theoretical executive functioning attention system, we used an oblique promax with Kaiser rotation. A three-factor model was yielded, which explained 87.

Inspection of the scree plot supported the retention of this factor structure; only factor loadings greater than.