Self-report measures of the home learning environment in large scale research: Measurement properties and associations with key developmental outcomes
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Favourable home learning environments (HLEs) support children’s literacy, numeracy and social development. In large-scale research, HLE is typically measured by self-report survey, but there is little consistency between studies and many different items and latent constructs are observed. Little is known about the stability of these items and constructs over time when used in either longitudinal research or studies with children with a wide range of ages. A review of the literature shows commonalities and differences between approaches in research on HLE. When we tested the psychometric properties of a short-form measure of HLE with a Rasch item-response-model using longitudinal data from over 1600 Australian families, there was support for two dimensions of HLE—formal and informal learning frequency. We found that this measure was stable over the transitional period from pre-K to school as well as between gender and family language background. There were small but significant associations between the HLE measures and cognitive and behavioural developmental outcomes. We recommend that other measures of HLE could be similarly validated to assess their suitability for use in longitudinal research on learning environments. Recommendations are made for the future development of measures of broader constructs of the HLE.
KeywordsAustralian E4Kids study Home learning environment (HLE) Preschool children Rasch item-response-model Short-form measures Testing of invariance
E4Kids is a project of the Melbourne Graduate School of Education at The University of Melbourne and is conducted in partnership with Queensland University of Technology. E4Kids is funded by the Australian Research Council Linkage Projects Scheme (LP0990200), the Victorian Government Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, and the Queensland Government Department of Education and Training. E4Kids is conducted in academic collaboration with the University of Toronto Scarborough, the Institute of Education at the University of London and the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. The E4Kids team would like to sincerely thank the ECEC services, directors, teachers/staff, children and their families for their ongoing participation in this study. This work was supported by a fellowship within the Postdoctoral Program of the German Academic Exchange Services (DAAD).
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