Date of Conferral

1-1-2010

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Education

Advisor

Darragh Callahan

Abstract

Although numerous studies have documented the connection between early language and academic achievement, there is much less information available about the effects of teacher/student relationships on language development. Based on Vygotsky's theory that all learning takes place in the context of relationships, this quasi-experimental study examined language scores for students in an early education classroom who stayed with the same teacher for 2 years compared with those in a classroom with two different teachers for each of the 2 years. Pre- and posttest scores on the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-III (PPVT-III) and language scores on the Developmental Indicators for the Assessment of Learning-3 (DIAL-3) were compared using an independent samples t test. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to test for the effects of student gender, family income, maternal education, teacher education, and teacher years of experience. The results revealed no significant difference between the experimental and control groups. Future studies should include examination of possible associations between qualitative aspects of student/teacher relationships and language development. The current study contributes to social change by raising awareness of the importance of relationships in early childhood and by encouraging educators in the development of environments that most effectively support early language development for students from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds.