Student-teacher relationships and preliteracy development
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A series of studies was conducted to evaluate the factorial validity (structural aspect of construct validity) of the Student-Teacher Relationship Scale (STRS) and to examine the differential effect of lead teachers and teacher assistants as a function of their relationships with children. The studies were conducted with 445 prekindergarten children and their 38 teachers in northeast Georgia. The first study examined the factorial validity (structural aspect of construct validity) of the STRS separately for teachers and teacher assistants and tested the equivalence of the factorial validity across the two groups of teachers and across the three time points via confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) technique. The results of the reliability and item analyses and CFAs identified that some items on the STRS had quite poor psychometric properties, and the results of the CFAs revealed that the hypothesized three-factor model of the STRS was weakly defined. The invariance of the initially hypothesized measurement model of the STRS across teachers and teacher assistants could not be meaningfully examined given inadequate model fit for teachers and teacher assistants separately. The measurement equivalence of the modified model across teachers and teacher assistants and across time showed equivalent factor loadings and item intercepts. The second study examined associations between quality teacher-child relationships and children’s preliteracy development in prekindergarten using structural equation modeling (SEM) in a three wave multiple group design. The results from this study indicated that prekindergarten teachers’ reports of close relationships with children were positively related to children learning alphabet letter name later in the school year while conflictual relationship with children was negatively related to their learning of letters. The association was not significant for for vocabulary knowledge. The relationships between children and teacher assistant did not significantly predict children’s alphabet letter name knowledge or vocabulary knowledge. Implications for future research on construct validity of the STRS and theory development are discussed.