Publication Date


DOI (Digital Object Identifier)



Leadership and Higher Education


Doctor of Education (Ed.D)

Dissertation Chair

Jose Lalas

Committee Members

Carol Ann Franklin

Paul Shirk


education; conversations; early literacy; teacher-student; teacher-student conversations


Early Childhood Education | Educational Leadership


Oral language is an essential communication skill that is often overlooked when preparing children to read (Miller, 2010). Children in lower-income families typically have fewer conversations with adults and by the time they enter kindergarten they have only heard and are able to understand half of the words that high-income children can (Hart & Risley, 2003, 1995). Boys start school speaking fewer words than girls, which in turn leads to lower average reading scores for boys (Tyre, 2008). This puts boys at risk, as they need critical reading skills to be academically successful (Brozo, 2010). Considering the importance of oral language in the development of early literacy skills, it is necessary to provide consistent times for conversations to take place in preschool classrooms (Bond & Wasik, 2009).

The current quantitative study is guided by the following questions: What is the importance of teacher-student conversations in preschool and if preschool teachers regularly schedule conversations with individual students, will it improve their language and literacy development? Does the preschool teacher's encouraging the children to communicate affect their language and literacy development? Does the amount of years a preschool teacher has been teaching affect the student's language and literacy development?

This study examined the developmental growth on five language and literacy Measures from the Desired Results Developmental Profile Revised (DRDP-R) of 54 lower socioeconomic status (SES) state preschool boys in a large urban school district in southern California. The students' 27 state preschool teachers scheduled unscripted conversations with them four times a day for three months—during mealtimes, at recess, at the dramatic play area, and at the library center. Research-based strategies were used to guide the conversations. The teachers' ability to encourage children to communicate and their years of teaching experience was also considered.

The results of this study indicated that there was a highly significant difference (pp


ISBN: 9781124804736