This dissertation is divided into three separate, related, naturalistic, quasi-experimental research studies, all using data from two kindergarten classes at Gator Elementary, a public Title I elementary school in Sunshine District in Central Florida. Each of these studies tested hypotheses that kindergarten children, especially those from low socioeconomic backgrounds, will show greater gains in receptive vocabulary, executive function, and academic achievement when purposeful play is used as a pedagogical approach than similar children in typical, contemporary kindergarten classrooms. The first study explored the effects of play-based and contemporary pedagogical approaches on students' receptive vocabulary using the PPVT-4, the second explored students' executive functions using the BRIEF2, and the third explored students' movements using Actigraph GT9X Link accelerometers. All three studies analyzed these data in relation to students' academic achievement as measured by i-Ready Diagnostic assessments. Statistically significant differences were detected in students' receptive vocabulary and reading growth as well as statistically significant differences in students' executive function health as reported by teachers and reading and math academic growth by classroom conditions. A strong association between receptive vocabulary and reading performances was revealed alongside strong negative correlations between levels of executive function concern and reading performance. No statistical differences in math growth between classrooms were found, although there was a moderate effect size, and less of an association between math performance and executive function presented. While strong correlations between academic achievement and total movement by day or movement types were revealed, these associations were inconsistent. Nor were there significant differences in movement by classroom conditions, although there was a moderate effect size suggesting some differences in movement by condition. The findings from this dissertation, while limited, point to a bourgeoning area of research connecting neuroscientific findings with developmentally appropriate practices to explore effective interventions to increase educational equity for vulnerable students.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Community Innovation and Education
School of Teacher Education
Education; Elementary Education
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Allee-Herndon, Karyn, "Kindergarten is Not Child's Play: An Exploration of Pedagogical Approaches Related to Learning in a Play-Based and a Contemporary Classroom at a Title I Elementary School" (2019). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 6448.