Approaches to learning and science education in Head Start: Examining bidirectionality

Andres S. Bustamante, Lisa J. White, Daryl B. Greenfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Recent national focus on early childhood science education highlights the need for research on early science, particularly with children from low-income families, as science is the lowest performing school readiness domain in that population. Given this achievement gap, the Office of Head Start has emphasized the development of children's domain-general skills, such as approaches to learning, because they help children succeed in the classroom regardless of academic content area. Recent research suggests a unique relationship between early science and approaches to learning, in that approaches to learning predicts gains in science readiness more so than math or language readiness. This study further explored this relationship by examining the potential bidirectionality between science and approaches to learning. Results obtained from hierarchical linear modeling suggest a significant bidirectional relationship, such that residualized change approaches to learning across the school year predicted gains in science across the year, and residualized change in science across the year predicted gains in approaches to learning across the year. These results suggest that development of children's approaches to learning relates to gains science knowledge, and that gains in children's science knowledge relates to the positive development of approaches to learning across the school year. This study provides support for future research examining the potential of science interventions to serve as a context for developing approaches to learning skills that will in turn help children engage in quality science learning. Such research would leverage the bidirectional relationships between these two constructs and could be a step in the national attempt to narrow the science and school readiness achievement gaps.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)34-42
Number of pages9
JournalEarly Childhood Research Quarterly
StatePublished - Mar 3 2018


  • Approaches to learning
  • Head Start
  • Preschool
  • School readiness
  • Science education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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