Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Childhood Education and Literacy Studies

Major Professor

James King, Ed.D.

Co-Major Professor

Stephen Graves, Ph.D.


Social skills, Early childhood education, Social-emotional competence, Teaching methods, School readiness


To date the research in the area of social emotional competence has focused on child-based intervention and outcomes. The findings cite effective approaches to assisting children in the area of social and emotional development involving promotion of appropriate social skills, explicit instruction of behavioral expectations, and support for emotional literacy and awareness (Wester --

Stratton, 1990; Hyson, 2004; Fox et al, 2003; Denham & Burton, 1996). These recommended practices requires teacher knowledge and skill, content knowledge in the area of social emotional developmental, and skills in using pedagogical techniques that support acquisition of the aforementioned areas. Educational researchers and specialists cannot begin to support the advancement of teacher practice in the area of social-emotional competence until they are clear on the methods and behaviors childcare professional currently employ. On the basis of a review of empirical literature, it is clear that limited descriptive information about childcare provider's pedagogical practices in the area of promoting social, emotional, and behavioral competence exists. The intent of this inquiry was to investigate childcare professionals' chosen methods in guiding children's social and behavioral development.

After identifying which methods were used, the researcher sought to describe the childcare professional's intention when choosing to use specific pedagogical techniques during large- and small-group instruction. Specifically, the concentration of interest was on the methods used during teacher-initiated instruction (such as large and small group) to guide children's social skill building and behavioral expectation compliance. Research questions were examined using a mixed methodological framework with a descriptive research design component and a phenomenographic approach incorporating stimulated recall. Findings suggest childcare professionals readily and proficiently engage in explicit instruction around behavioral expectations. However, they rarely systematically instruct children on social skills. Childcare professionals seem to rely on the implicit nature of day to day interactions to embed social interactions and reactions.

Further, childcare professionals seem to be primed for systematic instruction around the promotion of social skills. They are cognoscente of explicit techniques to guide behavioral expectation compliance but seem to have limited transference from this skill to explicit instruction in social skill acquisition. Additional findings and implications are provided in the text.