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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Student-teacher relationships, self-regulation, and social and emotional competencies in kindergarteners Maloney, Jacqueline


Given the myriad short- and long-term outcomes linked to kindergarteners’ social and emotional competencies, it is important to investigate the factors that may contribute to their promotion. The present study aimed to do so by investigating the contributions of children’s self-regulation and the quality of relationship with their teachers to children’s social and emotional competence in a diverse sample of 139 children in eight urban schools in Western Canada. The specific aims of the present study were twofold: (1) to examine individual differences in social and emotional competencies between kindergarteners identified as having low executive function (EF) proficiency and their classmates with proficient EFs, and (2) to examine the joint contributions of children’s quality of student-teacher relationships and self-regulation to their social and emotional competencies via a series of multiple linear regression models. As hypothesized, we found that children identified as having low EF proficiency scored significantly lower on teacher-ratings of general social and emotional competence (SEC), empathy, peer acceptance, and prosocial behavior compared to their classmates with proficient EFs. Teachers also reported significantly less closeness and more conflict with students with low EFs, signifying lower student-teacher relationship quality with these students than the comparison group. In a subsequent series of linear regression models, the joint contributions of self-regulation and student-teacher relationship quality explained significant amounts of variance in children’s social and emotional competencies. Student-teacher relationship quality explained significantly more variance above and beyond children’s individual self-regulation skills with student-teacher closeness being the most important predictor in most models. Furthermore, significant conditional effects were observed in which student-teacher relationship quality moderated the association between EFs and prosocial behavior, and between behavioral self-regulation and iii empathy. Results were heterogeneous based on the method of measuring self-regulation and the specific social and competence examined. Results suggest that future research into the joint contributions of student-teacher relationship quality and self-regulation on kindergarteners’ social and emotional competence is warranted. Social and emotional learning programs designed to promote student-teacher relationship and self-regulation may be particularly effective at promoting social and emotional competencies, especially among kindergarten children with low EF proficiency.

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