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Day care supervisors’ interactions with three and four year old children perceived as behaviourally different in a natural day care setting Polowy, Hannah

Abstract

The major purpose of the study was to determine whether there are observable differences in the interactions of day care supervisors with three and four year old children whom they perceive as behaviourally different and with children who are not perceived in this manner. It was hypothesized that a day care supervisor's interaction with three and four year old children perceived as behaviourally different would be unlike that supervisor's interaction with children who are not perceived in this manner. The interactions of six day care supervisors with 48 three and four year old children were recorded on video tape in a natural day care setting. A questionnaire completed by the supervisors, was used to identify children they perceived to be behaviourally different and behaviourally adapted. As a result, eight children from each center were selected; two girls and two boys identified as behaviourally different, and two girls and two boys identified as behaviourally adapted. Video-taped observations were subsequently coded using the Brophy and Good Teacher-Child Dyadic Interaction System (1969). After minor modification of the codes, 61 codes were employed to describe the interaction of the day care supervisor with each child. Thirty-three variables were selected by combining codes; the variables were grouped into nine clusters for analysis. The nine clusters are: Total support, child created support, teacher created support, total non-support, child created non-support, teacher created non-support, child created praise, teacher created praise, and response opportunities. Multivariate analysis of variance was used to test the hypothesis. The results revealed that some interactions had not been observed. Some clusters of interactions were not differentiated between behaviourally different and behaviourally adapted children by the day care supervisor, and some clusters of interactions were significantly differentiated between behaviourally different and behaviourally adapted children by the day care supervisor. The sex of the child did not affect the day care supervisor's interaction with the child in any way. The findings indicate that day care supervisors do respond differently to young children whom they perceive to be behaviourally different and to those they perceive to be behaviourally adapted. Behaviourally different children receive less total support, and less nurture; they receive more total non-support and criticism than behaviourally adapted children. In general it is concluded that if day care supervisors are given knowledge about the nature of their interactions with children they will be able to enhance the quality of care they provide each child and to provide optimal opportunities for acceptable behavioural responses by virtue of their own supportive interaction with children.

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