Publication Date

4-15-2017

Advisor(s)

Anna Shusterman

Major

Psychology

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

Early childhood is a crucial time to support socioemotional development, to prepare children for success in school, and to prevent adverse long-term life outcomes. Many curricula and interventions are being developed to support preschoolers in this area of growth. The success of these interventions relies on tracking changes in socioemotional knowledge and behaviors. There is a need for a simple, objective measure that is sensitive to short-term changes and provides a multifaceted understanding of a child’s socioemotional abilities. Here, we began the development and testing of such a measure, the Socioemotional Assessment (SEA). The SEA was shown to be easy, clear, and engaging, and we found validation for the SEA through comparisons with the Social Competence and Behavior Evaluation, a well-validated teacher questionnaire. This initial study also clarified what adjustments must be made to improve a subsequent iteration of the measure. These results, while exploratory in nature, showed that the SEA could be used as a tool to provide rich explanations of children’s socioemotional knowledge base. Experimenters can use this measure, centered on a shared-reading experience, to test children easily and objectively, avoiding the bias inherent with often-used teacher or parent questionnaires. Additional use with pre- and post-testing can evaluate the SEA as a measure sensitive enough to track changes over a short timespan. The success of this measure has implications for its possible use both by researchers in testing interventions and by teachers in better understanding their students.

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