A STUDY OF SOCIAL COMPETENCE IN EDUCATIONALLY AT-RISK PRESCHOOL CHILDREN

BETTY B OSMAN, Fordham University

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore the social competence of educationally at-risk four year old children and to examine the relationship of social skills and social acceptance in that population. Teacher ratings on the California Preschool Social Competency Scale were used as the measure of social skills, while a sociometric technique, i.e., a combination of peer nomination and rating scale, was employed to indicate social acceptance within the classroom.^ Subjects were 68 children attending suburban preschool programs, drawn primarily from lower- to upper-middle socioeconomic levels. Of the 68 children participating in the study, 44 were enrolled in heterogeneous nursery school classes in three locations. Twenty-four children, previously identified as educationally handicapped, were enrolled in special education classes in two schools. The study took place over a period of one month, beginning approximately six weeks into the school year.^ Initially, the Minneapolis Preschool Screening Instrument was administered to 100 children to assess level of developmental competence. On the basis of performance, children in the regular classes were randomly chosen for the control group or assigned to the "at-risk" group. Children in special education comprised the third group. Groups were balanced for age and sex.^ Results of the study indicated that social skills were positively associated with educational handicap, even in the preschool years. Teacher ratings were significantly different across groups, with controls significantly higher than mainstreamed at-risk children who, in turn, were significantly higher than youngsters in special education. This suggests that social skills may be an intrinsic part of an educational handicap.^ Whereas teacher ratings were significantly different between groups, peer ratings and self-ratings were not. Across the sample, both self-ratings and teacher ratings were positively correlated with peer rating. The special education group was the strongest source of this effect, however, with only moderate correlations in the mainstreamed groups.^ In summary, teachers of preschool children were found to be reliable judges of preschool children's social behaviors; peers viewed children in much the same way as teachers, but self-ratings were not significantly correlated with either social skills or social acceptance. ^

Subject Area

Early childhood education

Recommended Citation

OSMAN, BETTY B, "A STUDY OF SOCIAL COMPETENCE IN EDUCATIONALLY AT-RISK PRESCHOOL CHILDREN" (1983). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8326183.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8326183

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