Training Teachers in an Infant Classroom to Use Embedded Teaching Strategies
Tate, Trista L., Thompson, Rachel H., McKerchar, Paige M., Education & Treatment of Children
Embedded teaching involves incorporating teaching strategies into everyday activities (e.g., play) or routines (e.g., diapering). The success of this strategy with young children has led to the recommendation that embedded teaching be used in early childhood settings; however, it is not readily applied by teachers. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of instruction and feedback on teacher use of embedded teaching strategies in an infant care setting. A total of six undergraduate student teachers participated. Data were collected on the occurrence of teaching opportunities and student teacher use of specific forms of embedded teaching (e.g., modeling, prompting, and reinforcement). Results showed that instruction alone was insufficient to increase embedded teaching. However, when instruction was combined with feedback, all student teachers showed large and sustained improvements that maintained when the frequency of feedback was decreased.
DESCRIPTORS: embedded teaching, infants, instruction, feedback, teacher training.
Embedded teaching involves implementing teaching strategies within ongoing activities and routines (Venn et al., 1993) and includes a variety of naturalistic or milieu approaches (e.g., activity-based instruction, Bricker & Cripe, 1992; incidental teaching, Hart & Risley, 1978). Embedded teaching may be contrasted with other approaches, such as direct instruction, that involve presenting instructions under structured conditions that have been specifically designed for teaching target skills (Fredrick, Deitz, Bryceland, & Hummel, 2000; McGee, Krantz, & McClannahan, 1985). Advocates of embedded teaching suggest that, compared to traditional approaches, embedded instruction allows children more frequent opportunities to practice skills under relevant and motivating conditions (e.g., Losardo & Bricker, 1994).
Embedded teaching strategies have been shown to be particularly effective in teaching language to young children. For example, a series of studies by Hart and Risley demonstrated the effectiveness of incidental teaching on language displayed by disadvantaged preschool children. Initially, these researchers evaluated the effects of incidental teaching on children's spontaneous use of color-noun combinations and found that incidental teaching was superior to more traditional group instruction (Hart & Risley, 1968). Subsequently, incidental teaching was used to increase preschoolers' use of adjective-noun and color-adjective-noun combinations (Hart & Risley, 1974) as well as compound sentences (Hart & Risley, 1974, 1975).
Subsequently, a wide body of research has been devoted to evaluating the effects of embedded teaching to prevent and remediate language delays (see Warren & Yoder, 1997 for a review). For example, McGee and colleagues demonstrated that embedded teaching is an effective strategy for increasing receptive and expressive language among children with autism (McGee, Krantz, Mason, & McClannahan, 1983; McGee, Krantz, & McClannahan, 1985; McGee, Krantz, & McClannahan, 1986). In fact, these researchers found that the incidental approach produced more spontaneous and generalized preposition use when compared to a traditional, more structured form of teaching (McGee et al., 1985).
Although the majority of research on the effects of embedded teaching has focused on language acquisition, this strategy has also been successfully applied to other important skills. For example, Daugherty, Grisham-Brown and Hemmeter (2001) taught three preschool children with developmental delays to count objects (e.g., puzzle pieces, blocks) during ongoing activities using a delayed model prompt. Venn et al. (1993) used a similar technique to increase peer imitation by preschool children with developmental disabilities by embedding teacher prompts within an ongoing art activity. Similarly, teachers in a study by Wolery, Leslie, Caldwell, Snyder, and Morgante (2002) taught three children in an inclusive day camp to identify numerals, read site words, and complete multiplication problems by embedding instructions within circle time and transitions.
This cursory review of the literature suggests that embedded teaching may be considered one of a number of empirically validated teaching strategies appropriate for early education. However, given the recognized gap between recommended practices and the prevalence or frequency of their use (e.g., Odom, McLean, Johnson, & LaMontagne, 1995; Schwartz, Carta, & Grant, 1996), it may be useful to develop specific training programs to increase and maintain teacher use of this highly effective strategy. Existing research suggests that clear instruction and feedback are critical components of teacher training.
Mudd and Wolery (1987) successfully trained Head Start teachers to use incidental teaching during free play activities through a workshop consisting of overheads, handouts, and a quiz. Written feedback was provided after each observation, and vocal feedback was provided intermittently. Although the participating teachers had a minimum of 8 years of teaching experience, these individuals very rarely implemented incidental teaching during baseline. In fact, two of the four teachers never correctly implemented incidental teaching prior to training. The intervention, which was implemented in a multiple baseline design, produced systematic increases in incidental teaching among all teachers.
Schepis, Reid, Ownbey, and Parsons (2001) also used instruction and feedback to train support staff to use embedded teaching with children with disabilities. Training consisted of written and verbal instructions with specific classroom examples and role-play activities, followed by on-the-job feedback. Feedback on accuracy of implementation was given immediately following each observation throughout the training phase. Training produced improvement in teacher performance and an increase in independent child responses. However, because all components of the intervention were introduced simultaneously in the Mudd and Wolery (1987) and Schepis et al. studies, it is not possible to determine which features of the …
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Publication information: Article title: Training Teachers in an Infant Classroom to Use Embedded Teaching Strategies. Contributors: Tate, Trista L. - Author, Thompson, Rachel H. - Author, McKerchar, Paige M. - Author. Journal title: Education & Treatment of Children. Volume: 28. Issue: 3 Publication date: August 2005. Page number: 206+. © 2009 West Virginia University Press, University of West Virginia. COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale Group.
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