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Thesis (M.A.)—University of Nebraska—Lincoln, 2009. Department of Educational Psychology.


Copyright 2009, the author. Used by permission.


The impact of mobility during elementary and secondary schools among low-income students has been explored, however, this research has not been extended to early educational settings. The main goal of the present study was to serve as an initial exploration of the impact of mobility on low income preschool students’ cognitive and social development. A secondary goal was to investigate3 the association of different types of mobility to cognitive and social development among a low income preschool sample. To identify the mobility construct of interest, a categorical index was created to categorize participants into one of three mobility groups: low mobility, moderate mobility, and high mobility. Lastly, the present study sought to isolate the individual effects of mobility on cognitive and social outcomes by using appropriate hypothesized that the high mobility group (because they reflected the highest rate of stress associated with mobility) would fare worse than both the low and moderate mobility groups on measures of social and cognitive development. It was further hypothesized that the moderate mobility group (because they experience moderate levels of stress associated with mobility) would fare worse than the low mobility group on measures of social and cognitive development.

All participants were enrolled in Midwestern center-based Head Start programs. A majority of the Head Start programs (with the exception of two programs) were run in local elementary schools as full day programs serving children ranging from 3 to 5 years.

Participants (children) were selected from a five-year longitudinal investigation examining parent engagement and school readiness in children age birth through five years who were identified to be at risk for academic failure. All participants for this project participated in center-based Head Start programs that operating within the local public school district. Select Head Start teachers were placed in an experimental condition and received professional development in the form of in-service training, peer collaboration and individual coaching aimed at establishing and bolstering parents’ engagement in their child’s learning and development. Participants were consequently placed in either the control (no professional development) or experimental (professional development) condition according to their teacher’s random assignment. The sample for the present study included participants who remained in the study during their two-year enrollment period in Head Start, prior to kindergarten (with four data collection points). This included both control and experimental condition participants; however, further analysis indicated that participants’ control vs. experimental condition should not affect results for the present study. Participants included 131 preschool children.

Information was collected from parents during family interview sessions conducted at each time point (two time points each year-during the fall and spring of each academic year). This study includes data from 120 parents. Forty-seven parents were single, 72% had some form of education beyond high school, 85% received at least one form of public assistance, and 30% were unemployed or not enrolled in school at the final time point. Median family income was between 14,000-16,000. Data from family questionnaires was taken from the final time point from T4 questionnaires was incomplete, questionnaires from time points one through three were used to gather the necessary data on family background characteristics including: income level, marital status, number of children in the home, and employment status.

Advisor: Eric Buhs