Education and Human Sciences, College of (CEHS)


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A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Psychological Studies in Education (Cognition, Learning, and Development), Under the Supervision of Professors Eric S. Buhs and Kathleen Moritz Rudasill. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2015

Copyright (c) 2015 Irina N. Kalutskaya


The purpose of this study was to examine the developmental trajectory of anxious withdrawal in a group of 3-year old children in transition to kindergarten. This study also examined the role of high quality classroom environments for children, and the role of multiple risk factors for parents on development of children’s anxious withdrawal. The current sample consisted of 1938 3-year old children (49% female) followed across four time points (Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, and Spring 2012) as a part of the Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES 2009), 20% of the children were White, non-Hispanic, 35% were African-American, 36% were Hispanic/Latino, and the remaining 8% comprised of American Indian, Asian, and Multiracial. Longitudinal analyses with multilevel modelling (MLM) were employed to explore the developmental trajectory of anxious withdrawal, and associations between classroom quality and socio-economic risk factors for parents on anxious withdrawn behavior in children.

Findings indicated that anxious withdrawn behavior decreased over time when children were in Head Start, and then increased after children transitioned to kindergarten. The effects of either classroom quality or socio-economic risk factors for parents were not significant. Examination of potential gender effects indicated that teachers’ ratings of boys’ anxious withdrawal were higher at the beginning of Head Start compared to levels reported for girls. Results highlighted the need for assessments of the possible mediating mechanisms between socio-economic risk factors for parents, quality of child care classrooms, and children’s anxious withdrawn behavior.

Advisors: Eric S. Buhs and Kathleen Moritz Rudasill