“Pay Attention”: Understanding Engagement in Early Intervention Classrooms

“Pay Attention”: Understanding Engagement in Early Intervention Classrooms

Wednesday, 06 December 2017

Children learn when they are engaged, but what is student engagement? How does it look like in early intervention spaces for children with developmental needs? What can early intervention teachers do to enhance student engagement? These are questions that were posed and answered during the talk held by FACES Study (Factors Associated with Child and Family Outcomes in EIPIC in Singapore); a longitudinal study on the outcomes of children and families in the Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children (EIPIC).

Ken Poon
Associate Professor Kenneth Poon giving the talk

In this interactive talk held on 30 October 2017, Associate Professor Kenneth Poon reported on preliminary findings based on data from 277 EIPIC classrooms collected primarily with FACES Engagement Codes (FEC) as tool. The data showed that children with developmental needs in EIPIC are actively engaged for two thirds of classroom time, and engagement occurred more during routine activities versus teacher-directed activities. The team also found that there are more opportunities for adult-child interactions, compared to peer-to-peer interactions in the EIPIC classrooms.

Looking deeper into teaching practices and drawing from data collected using the Classroom Assessment Scoring System® (CLASS®), the analysis showed that children are more actively engaged when the classroom has higher levels of classroom management practices (i.e.,  behavior management, productivity, instructional learning formats), and instructional support practices (i.e., concept development, quality of feedback, language development). More active engagement is also recorded in classrooms where materials are organized in the environment and when there is less physical prompting.

A/P Poon closed the presentation by drawing relevance of the findings to actual practice. The study’s findings emphasize the importance of capitalizing on routine activities in engaging the children and recognizing the contribution of teachers as learning facilitators in the classrooms.

The talk was well attended by about 50 attendees and relevant questions were posed by the audience. Most questions revolved around data collection and factors associated with engagement such as classroom structure and ratio. The session closed with an invitation to the audience to let the study know what information from FACES would be helpful for EIPIC centres.