Intervention Journal of Early

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Journal of Early Intervention

Early Intervention Curricula and Subsequent Adolescent Social Development: A Longitudinal Examination Kevin N. Cole, Paulette E. Mills, Joseph R. Jenkins and Philip S. Dale Journal of Early Intervention 2005 27: 71 DOI: 10.1177/105381510502700201 The online version of this article can be found at:

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Intervention Curricula and Adolescent Social Development: A Longitudinal Examination





Research Institute

PAULETTE E. MILLS Washington State University

JOSEPH R. JENKINS University of Washington PHILIP S. DALE

University of Missouri In a previous study of the differential effects of contrasting early intervention programs on later social behavior (Mills, Cole, Jenkins, & Dale, 2002), we found no differences in selfreport of juvenile delinquency at age 15 for children enrolled in direct instruction and childdirected models. These results disconfirmed the conclusion of Schweinhart, Weikart, and Larner (1986b) that direct instruction was linked to higher rates of juvenile delinquency and other social differences. Our previous study was limited to self-report of juvenile delinquency, a very coarse measure of social development, in an attempt to replicate the key finding of Schweinhart et al. (1986b). In the present study, we examine additional measures of social development, which might be more sensitive to subtle program differences, including school satisfaction, loneliness, and depression. We administered a battery of social development measures to 174 children at age 15 who had been randomly assigned at preschool age to the two early childhood models. We found no differences on any social outcome for program type. Across a wide range of social behaviors at age 15, there is no evidence that type of early intervention program differentially influences subsequent adolescent social behavior.


development in young children is increasingly understood to be interwoven with academic and cognitive development (e.g., Capara, Barbaranelli, Pastorelli, Bandura, & Zimbardo, 2000). The importance of social

development as an end in itself also is widely recognized (e.g., Green, 2001; Odom et al., 1999). Finding an early childhood curriculum produced in the past 10 years that does not

social development goals would be difficult. For the field of early intervention, social development components in curricula are even more important. Many children must be taught social skills that typically developing children acquire with ease (Weatherby &


Prizant, 2000).

Although social development is valued in early intervention, curricula stress different 71

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aspects of social development. Child-directed are designed to increase selfself-monitoring, reflection, and self-regulation through discovery activities initiated by children (Feuerstein, Rand, Hoffmann, & Miller, 1980; Krogh, 1997). In con-

models often awareness,

trast, curricula that include direct instruction components often focus on increasing children’s key social abilities through the use of carefully planned teacher-led activities (Sandall, Schwartz, & Joseph 2001). In an earlier era, a study by Schweinhart, Weikart, and Larner (1986b) found that a child-directed preschool method was associated with lower rates of juvenile delinquency and greater positive social development than a direct instruction model. The researchers postulated that child-directed curricula improve children’s positive dispositions, encouraging initiative-taking, planning, decision making, and negotiation skills (Schweinhart & Weikart, 1997). They suggested that these skills, promoted in preschool, lead to social success in adolescence and young adulthood. According to this hypothesis, direct instruction models, in contrast to child-directed models, provide insufficient opportunities for children to make decisions, monitor and evaluate their own behavior, or plan and predict events. Schweinhart et al. (1986b) followed children from three early childhood education programs, each with a different emphasis. They included (a) High/Scope (Hohmann, Banet, & Weikart, 1979), an "open-framework approach, in which teacher and child both plan and initiate activities and actively work together ..." with the intention to promote intellectual and social development (Schweinhart et al., 1986b, p. 18); (b) direct instruction (Bereiter & Engelmann, 1966), an academically oriented program in which teachers use scripted lessons to teach reading, math, and language skills; and (c) Development and Research Center for Early Education (DARCEE; National Education Association, 1977), a traditional nursery school program employing a "child-centered approach, in which the child initiates and the teacher responds" and where "the teacher encourages children to actively engage in free play" in an environment broad-

enriched with toys, materials, and play activities (Schweinhart et al., 1986b, p. 18). At age 15, graduates of the three programs responded to a questionnaire on antisocial behavior and other social variables. Graduates of the direct instruction (DI) preschool reported more antisocial and criminal behavior than graduates of the other preschool programs. Schweinhart and colleagues also examined more typical social behaviors in addition to measures of juvenile delinquency. They examined variables including self-perception of how well teens were getting along with their family, child perspectives about how the family felt regarding how the child was doing, self-report of participation in sports, self-report of book reading, and self-report of appointment to a school office or school job. They found several statistically significant differences favoring the High/Scope model. Schweinhart, Weikart, and Larner (1986a) speculated that the relative emphasis on teacher-directed academic learning in the DI approach sacrificed opportunities for the kind of child-directed experiences necessary for learning self-regulatory, prosocial skills. The provocative nature of the finding attracted considerable attention and led to a debate about early childhood education among Schweinhart et al. (1986a) and proponents of DI (e.g., Ber-


eiter, 1986a; Bereiter, 1986b; Gersten, 1986). Schweinhart et al. (1986b) acknowledged a

replication, but despite an absence of corroborating findings, the link between DI and juvenile delinquency was widely reported in education journals and in the popular press. need for

The DI model was characterized in The New York Times as an "early education pressure cooker approach" that damages children and leads to violence (Hechinger, 1986, p. 17). We were unable to replicate the juvenile delinquency result of Schweinhart et al. (1986b) in a larger, methodologically stronger followup study of DI graduates (Mills, Cole, Jenkins, & Dale, 2002). In that report, we focused solely on adolescents’ self-reported delinquent behavior because those data had the strongest implications for selection of early intervention curricula. We did not address other social behaviors noted by Schweinhart et al. (1986b)

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such as participation in sports or perceptions of self-esteem. More subtle measures of social development might reveal long-term, positive consequences from the child-directed curriculum used in our preschool study, similar to the pattern noted by Schweinhart et al. (1986b). In the present study, we report on a broader set of social outcomes such as school satisfaction, friendships, susceptibility to depression, family functioning, and other important social issues that were not addressed in the juvenile delinquency survey.


study included both an intervention and follow-up phase. We provide a brief description of the preschool intervention phase followed by a detailed description of methods for follow-up of children at age 15 on social measures. Detailed accounts of the preschool intervention study are available in Cole, Dale, Mills, and Jenkins (1993) and Mills, Dale, a

Cole, and Jenkins (1995). Preschool Intervention Phase


Two hundred and six children

between the ages 3 and 7 years (M 4.9, SD .96) participated in the intervention phase of the study from 1984-1988. According to state administrative code, all children were eligible for special education services based on developmental delays or medical diagnoses. On entry into the program, their mean IQ on the McCarthy Scales of Children’s Abilities (McCarthy, 1972) was 76.7 (SD 16.6). Approximately 80% of the students had language delays, 50% cognitive delays, 60% fine motor delays, 60% gross motor delays, and 60% social-emotional delays. Approximately 20% also had a medical diagnosis such as cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, or seizure disorder. The majority of children exhibited a significant delay in more than one of the five developmental domains. Classes and assignment for intervention. Each year for 4 years, new students were randomly assigned to either DI (Engelmann & Bruner, 1974; Engelmann & Carnine, 1975; Engelmann & Osborn, 1976) or to mediated =



& Sherwood, 1984) programs. Children’s participation in the pro1.65). grams ranged from 1 to 4 years (M Modal length of participation was one academic year. Children attended classes in a university laboratory school for 2 hours per day, 5 days a week for 180 school days. There were six preschool classes per year, three for each program, with 12 students in each. One of the three classes for each program enrolled four typically developing students and eight children with disabilities; other classes enrolled only students with disabilities. Data are reported only for those students with disabilities. In addition, some children attended a kin-

learning (Osborn


dergarten class for 5.5 hours per day, 5 days a week for 180 days. There was one kindergarten class for each program, with 14


dents per class. Across the DI and mediated learning programs, classrooms were staffed with a head teacher who held a master’s degree in special education and one assistant teacher. Additional staff included occupational and physical therapists, speech language pathologists, and student interns, resulting in a student-staff ratio of approximately 4:1. Program descriptions. Direct instruction (DI) is derived from an extensive task analysis of academic skills, which serves as the basis for a systematic approach for teaching academic skills. Based on the educational philosophy of Siegfreid Engelmann (e.g., Engelmann & Bruner, 1974; Engelmann & Camine, 1975; Engelmann & Osborn, 1976), DI is embodied in curriculum materials published as Distarg math, language, and reading. DI is teacher directed and fast paced, utilizing highly structured presentation of materials with frequent opportunities for student response and reinforcement or correction. Mediated learning (ML) emphasizes the development and generalization of cognitive processes rather than specific academic content. The conceptual ancestry of ML includes the theories of Vygotsky (1962) and Feuerstein (Feuerstein, Rand, Hoffman, & Miller, 1980). This approach was originally brought to the United States and developed by Hay-

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Table 1.

Descriptive Statistics for Follow-Up

Note. PPVT








wood, Brooks, and Burns (1986). Osborn and Sherwood (1984) further developed the preschool curriculum. The curriculum is organized around processes consisting of comparison, classification, social perspective taking, cooperative problem solving, and sequencing. Teachers interpret the environment according to students’ needs, responding and modeling, rather than teaching directly. Constructivist in theory and design, ML includes (a) problemsolving activities, with children and teachers

working together; (b) multiple opportunities for children to select materials and activities; and (c) encouragement of child initiation of interactions. Instruction focuses on promoting generalization of cognitive processes to new environments. At the preschool level, the ML program in the present study did not include formal instruction in reading, math, and language skills. At the kindergarten level, children received developmentally appropriate, activity-based instruction including the Math-

ematics-Their-Way (Baratta-Lorton, 1974) program and the Addison-Wesley Superkids reading program (Rowland, 1982). As reported in Cole et al. (1993) and Mills et al. (1995), graduates of the two programs did not differ on cognitive, language, or academic measures taken at the end of 1 year of intervention and at follow-up testing at age 9. Further information about DI and ML, including information on teacher training and fidelity of implementation is provided in Cole et

al. (1993) and Notari, Cole, Osborn, and Sherwood (1996).

Phase at



15 Years

We followed children who had completed at least 1 year of early childhood intervention by conducting annual assessments with a battery of tests that varied according to the age of the student. The distri-


bution of the

sample by program, ethnicity, gender, preschool entry IQ, and language performance is shown in Table 1. By age 15, the follow-up sample included 174 students, or 84% of the original sample (81 % of DI group and 90% of ML). This sample included 122 males and 52 females. Sixty-one percent were European American; 30% African American; and 9% Pacific Islander, Asian, Latino, or Native American. Chi square analyses indicated the follow-up DI and ML groups did not differ



gender or ethnicity (ps



Measures Three measures of social development were administered at age 15. Together, these measures included assessment of depression, school satisfaction, relationships with teachers, attitudes toward schoolwork, and feelings of loneliness. Loneliness and Social Dissatisfaction Questionnaire (LSDQ; Asher, Hymel & Renshaw, 1984). The LSDQ consists of 16 items centering on feelings of loneliness and social dis-

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satisfaction and another eight filler items focusing on hobbies and interests. Items include statements such as &dquo;It’s easy for me to make new friends at school,&dquo; &dquo;I like school,&dquo; &dquo;I feel alone,&dquo; and &dquo;There’s nobody I can go to when I need help.&dquo; A higher score indicates a greater level of dissatisfaction and loneliness. Children who are sociometrically rejected by their peers report higher levels of loneliness than sociometrically popular children. Factor analytic studies of LSDQ scores involving children from third through sixth grade (Asher et al., 1984) indicated all of the 16 primary items centering on feelings of loneliness and social dissatisfaction were associated with one factor, and scale scores had high internal consistency, with a Guttman split-half correlation reliability coefficient of .91. Concurrent validity of scores for the same sample was supported by negative correlations between LSDQ scores and Best Friend Nominations and play ratings received from samesex

peers. A factor analytic study of the measure also has been conducted with older African-American and Hispanic-American children up to age 13 (Bagner, Storch, & Roberti, 2004). These authors found a moderate relationship with self-report of depressive behavior and feelings. Although Asher et al. (1984) reported normative data only through sixth grade, the measure also has been used in studies of loneliness with children in seventh and eighth grade (e.g., Rotenberg & Whitney, 1992; Krever & Ellen, 2003; Power, 2000). Quality of School Life Scale (QSL; Epstein & McPartland, 1977). The QSL is a 27-item questionnaire that is a multidimensional measure of student reactions to school in general, to their class work, and to their teachers. It was designed for use with children in 4th through 12th grade to assess children’s reactions formally in three dimensions, satisfaction with school, commitment to class work, and reactions to teachers. Items include statements such as &dquo;I daydream a lot in class,&dquo; &dquo;I wish I could have the same teacher next year,&dquo; and &dquo;Most of my teachers really listen to what I have to say.&dquo; The authors reported split-half reliability of .89 and a standard error of mea-

surement of 1.99 for scores obtained from


sample of 4,266 elementary, middle, and high school students. Concurrent validity of scores was addressed by correlating scale scores with measures of school performance and participation, personality, family background variables, and educational and occupational plans. The 27 correlations ranged from .14 to .57, all in the predicted directions. The authors also reported discriminative validity for the scale between two groups of students identified by teachers as having either high interest or low interest in school. Reynolds Adolescent Depression Scale (RADS; Reynolds, 1986). The RADS consists of 30 questions, rated on a four-point scale, and is designed to screen for depression. Item examples include &dquo;I feel happy,&dquo; &dquo;I feel important,&dquo; &dquo;I feel like talking to other students.&dquo; The measure was normed on a sample of children in grades 7 through 12, and scores from this sample yielded a test-retest coefficient of .80 and a split-half reliability of .92. Standard error of measurement was reported as four. Concurrent validity of scores was supported by correlations between RADS scores and Hamilton Rating Scale (Hedlund & Vieweg, 1979) interview scores. A statistically significant and noteworthy correlation of .83 was found. The authors also reported extensive convergent validity data with other self-report measures of depression (correlations ranging from .68 to .76) and with measures of related constructs including self-esteem (correlations ranging from -.67 to -.75), anxiety (correlations ranging from .73 to .80), loneliness (correlations ranging from .64 to .67), learned helplessness (correlation of -.53), suicidal ideation (correlations ranging from .59 to .61), and hopelessness (correlations ranging from .50 to .54). A higher score on the RADS indicates a greater risk for depression. The cutoff score for clinical concern is a total score of 76. RESULTS We conducted Program X Gender analyses of variance for the three social measures. Gender was included as a variable because it was sta-

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tistically significant in an earlier examination of delinquent behavior (Mills et al., 2002). The analyses revealed no statistically significant main effect for program, or for Program X Gender interaction for any of the social measure scores (see Table 2). These findings are consistent with our earlier study examining program differences for the juvenile delinquency questionnaire. Females registered more depression than males on the RADS, .53. No 10.314, p .002; d F(1, 173) other gender differences were statistically sig=



nificant. We also examined Program X Ethnicity interactions because our sample was proportionally different in ethnicity (i.e., fewer African American students) than the Schweinhart et al. (1986b) study (see Table 3). We found one statistically significant difference for ethnicity, with African American children reporting less positive relationships with teachers on the .04; d = .41. QSL, F(2, 173) 3.27, p In addition to program comparisons, we were interested in how youths in our study performed compared to available test norms. For the QSL, which provided both mean and standard deviation data by gender and ethnicity, we conducted t-tests between our sample data and the normative sample data for the eight comparisons by gender (four QSL variables by male and female). No statistically significant differences were found (all p values > .25). We also conducted t-tests for the =


eight comparisons by ethnicity (four QSL variables by European-American and AfricanAmerican). Again, no statistically significant differences were found (all p values > .25). The RADS provides means for gender and ethnicity in their normative sample data, but not standard deviations. As an alternative method for comparison with the normative sample, 95% confidence intervals were computed. The confidence intervals for our sample for European American males, African American males, European American females, and African American females encompass the means for those groups on the RADS. The only differences noted were when gender was not considered. The means of the scores obtained from the RADS normative sample for

American and African American greater than those in our sample, suggesting that the normative sample experienced slightly greater signs of depression than did our group. For example, the confidence interval for European American students in our sample was 59.76-54.24, while the mean for the RADS normative sample was 60.54. The confidence interval in our sample for African American students was 59.4151.45, while the mean for the RADS normative sample was 60.54. A comparison with the LDSQ norms was more difficult. The sample reported in Asher et al. (1984) included younger students (thirdsixth grade) and the mean score reported was a sum of the 16 primary items, excluding the eight items related to hobbies and interests. Analyses included grade, sociometric status, and gender, but no data were provided for ethnicity. The mean score for students in our sample was 2.16 and reflected the average of all 24 questions. An average score of 2.01 was found in the normative sample.

European students


DISCUSSION One encouraging finding from our study was that the social measures provided some indication that participants were generally performing near typical levels. Regardless of type of preschool program experienced, many of the youth appear to have developed promising levels of social ability in school and home settings. We did not have a nontreatment control group in the study, however, to validate this finding, and the normative data available for the assessments were not necessarily representative of the total population. Hence, this conclusion should be viewed with caution. We found a statistically significant difference between males and females on the RADS, with females registering more depression than males. Whereas there might be many explanations, we speculate that this finding might follow the general trend of greater prevalence for depression among females (e.g., McClure, Rogeness, & Thompson, 1997). We also found one statistically significant difference for ethnicity, with Afri-

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