Sex Roles

, Volume 76, Issue 7–8, pp 498–510 | Cite as

Preschool Teachers’ Facilitation of Gender-Typed and Gender- Neutral Activities during Free Play

  • Kristen L. Granger
  • Laura D. Hanish
  • Olga Kornienko
  • Robert H. Bradley
Original Article

Abstract

Understanding how preschool teachers facilitate children’s engagement in gender-typed and gender-neutral activities is important given that engagement in gender-typed activities is differentially linked to the development of skills connected to later academic achievement. Thus, facilitation of children’s engagement in gender-typed activities may contribute to emergence of gender differences in later educational outcomes. The current study used a teacher-focal observational coding system to investigate research questions about the frequency with which teachers facilitated feminine, masculine, and gender-neutral activities with same- and mixed-gender groups during free-play. Participants were 37 female teachers of Head Start classrooms in the U.S. Southwest (M years teaching preschool = 10.57, SD = 6.85, range = 2–27; 75.6 % completed at least a bachelor’s degree). Results revealed that feminine activities were facilitated less often than were masculine and gender- neutral activities during free play. Results also revealed variability in teachers’ facilitation of feminine, masculine, and gender-neutral activities, depending on the gender composition of the students with whom teachers were interacting (i.e., boys-only, girls-only, and mixed-gender). Implications for educational, developmental, and gender research are discussed.

Keywords

Preschool teachers Classroom behavior Childhood play behavior Gender-typing Human sex differences Educational toys Group composition 

References

  1. Ajzen, I., & Fishbein, M. (1977). Attitude-behavior relations: A theoretical analysis and review of empirical research. Psychological Bulletin, 84, 888–918. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.84.5.888.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arthur, A. E., Bigler, R. S., Liben, L. S., Gelman, S. A., & Ruble, D. N. (2008). Gender stereotyping in young children: A developmental intergroup perspective. In S. Levy & M. Killen (Eds.), Intergroup attitudes and relations in childhood through adulthood (pp. 66–86). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Ashiabi, G. S. (2007). Play in the preschool classroom: Its socioemotional significance and the teacher’s role in play. Early Childhood Education Journal, 35, 199–207. doi:10.1007/s10643-007-0165-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Basow, S. A. (2010). Gender in the classroom. In J. Chrisler & D. McCreary (Eds.), Handbook of gender research in psychology (pp. 277–295). New York, NY: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-1-4419-1465-1_14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bigler, R. S., Spears Brown, C., & Markell, M. (2001). When groups are not created equal: Effects of group status on the formation of intergroup attitudes in children. Child Development, 72, 1151–1162. doi:10.1111/1467-8624.00339.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Blakemore, J. E. O., & Centers, R. E. (2005). Characteristics of boys’ and girls’ toys. Sex Roles, 53, 619–633. doi:10.1007/s11199-005-7729-0.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bodrova, E., & Leong, D. J. (2003). The importance of being playful. Educational Leadership, 60, 50–53.Google Scholar
  8. Booren, L. M., Downer, J. T., & Vitiello, V. E. (2012). Observations of children’s interactions with teachers, peers, and tasks across preschool classroom activity settings. Early Education & Development, 23, 517–538. doi:10.1080/10409289.2010.548767.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bredekamp, S., & Copple, C. (1997). Developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood programs. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.Google Scholar
  10. Cherney, I. D., Kelly-Vance, L., Gill Glover, K. A., Ruane, A., & Ryallis, B. (2003). The effects of stereotyped toys and gender on play assessment in children aged 18-47 months. Educational Psychology, 23, 95–106. doi:10.1080/0144341022000022960.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chien, N. C., Howes, C., Burchinal, M., Pianta, R. C., Ritchie, S., Bryant, D. M., & Barbarin, O. A. (2010). Children’s classroom engagement and school readiness gains in prekindergarten. Child Development, 81, 1534–1549. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.2010.01490.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Dodge, D. T., Colker, L. J., & Heroman, C. (2002). The creative curriculum for preschool (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Teaching Strategies, Inc..Google Scholar
  13. Emmer, E. T., & Stough, L. M. (2001). Classroom management: A critical part of educational psychology, with implications for teacher education. Educational Psychologist, 36, 103–112. doi:10.1207/S15326985EP3602_5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Etaugh, C., Collins, G., & Gerson, A. (1975). Reinforcement of sex-typed behaviors of two-year- old children in a nursery school setting. Developmental Psychology, 11, 255. doi:10.1037/h0076461.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fabes, R. A. (1994). Behavioral and physiological mediators of gender segregation. In C. Leaper (Ed.), Gender segregation: Causes and consequences (pp. 19–34). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  16. Fabes, R. A., Martin, C. L., & Hanish, L. D. (2003). Young children’s play qualities in same-, other-, and mixed-gender peer groups. Child Development, 74, 921–932. doi:10.1111/1467-8624.00576.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Fagot, B. I. (1977). Teachers’ reinforcement of gender-preferred behaviors in Dutch preschools. Psychological Reports, 41, 1249–1250. doi:10.2466/pr0.1977.41.3f.1249.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Fagot, B. I. (1984). Teacher and peer reactions to boys’ and girls’ play styles. Gender Roles, 11, 691–702. doi:10.1007/BF00288120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Fagot, B. I. (1985). Beyond the reinforcement principle: Another step toward understanding gender role development. Developmental Psychology, 21, 1097–1104. doi:10.1037/0012-1649.21.6.1097.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fagot, B. I., & Patterson, G. R. (1969). An in vivo analysis of reinforcing contingencies for gender-role behaviors in the preschool child. Developmental Psychology, 1, 563–568. doi:10.1037/h0027965.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Fagot, B. I., Rodgers, C. S., & Leinbach, M. D. (2000). Theories of gender socialization. In T. Eckes & H. M. Trautner (Eds.), The developmental social psychology of gender (pp. 65–89). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  22. Goble, P., Martin, C. L., Hanish, L. D., & Fabes, R. A. (2012). Children’s gender-typed activity choices across preschool social contexts. Gender Roles, 67, 435–451. doi:10.1007/s11199-012-0176-9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gronlund, G. (2001). Rigorous academics in preschool and kindergarten? Yes! Let me tell you how. Young Children, 56, 42–43.Google Scholar
  24. Hosmer Jr., D. W., & Lemeshow, S. (1989). Applied logistic regression. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  25. Ishikawa, T., & Montello, D. R. (2006). Spatial knowledge acquisition from direct experience in the environment: Individual differences in the development of metric knowledge and the integration of separately learned places. Cognitive Psychology, 52, 93–129. doi:10.1016/j.cogpsych.2005.08.003.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Kersh, J., Casey, B. M., & Mercer Young, J. M. (2008). Research on spatial skills and block building in girls and boys: The relationship to later mathematics learning. In B. Spodak & O. Saracho (Eds.), Mathematics, science and technology in early childhood education: Contemporary perspectives on mathematics in early childhood education (pp. 233–253). Charlotte, NC: Information Age.Google Scholar
  27. Lamb, M. E., Easterbrooks, M. A., & Holden, G. W. (1980). Reinforcement and punishment among preschoolers: Characteristics, effects, and correlates. Child Development, 51, 1230–1236. doi:10.2307/1129565.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Liang, K. Y., & Zeger, S. L. (1986). Longitudinal data analysis using generalized linear models. Biometrika, 73, 13–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lloyd, B., & Duveen, G. (1992). Gender identities and education: The impact of starting school. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.Google Scholar
  30. Lynch, L. (2016). Where are all the Pippis?: The under-representation of female main and title characters in children’s literature in the Swedish preschool. Sex Roles. Advance online publication. doi:10.1007/s11199-016-0637-7.Google Scholar
  31. Martin, P., & Bateson, P. (1993). Measuring behaviors: An introductory guide (2nd ed.). Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. McCandless, B. R., Bush, C., & Carden, A. I. (1976). Reinforcing contingencies for sex-role behaviors in preschool children. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 1, 241–246. doi:1016/0361-476X(76)90030–8.Google Scholar
  33. Miller, C. L. (1987). Qualitative differences among gender-stereotyped toys: Implications for cognitive and social development in girls and boys. Gender Roles, 16, 473–487. doi:10.1007/BF00292482.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Miller, E., & Almon, J. (2009). Crisis in the kindergarten: Why children need to play in school. College Park, MD: Alliance for Childhood.Google Scholar
  35. National Association for the Education of Young Children. (2015). National Association for the Education of Young Children Standard and Accreditation Criteria & Guideline for Assessment. Retrieved from https://www.naeyc.org/academy/primary/viewstandards.
  36. Office of Head Start (2010). Head start impact study final report (1st ed.). Washington, DC: Pumam, M., Bell, S., Cook, R., Heid, C.Google Scholar
  37. Office of Head Start (2012). Revisiting and updating the multicultural principles (1st ed.). Washington, DC: Early Head Start National Resource Center.Google Scholar
  38. Osborne, J., Simon, S., & Collins, S. (2003). Attitudes towards science: A review of the literature and its implications. International Journal of Science Education, 25, 1049–1079. doi:10.1080/0950069032000032199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Pianta, R., LaParo, K., & Hamre, B. (2008). The classroom assessment scoring system pre-K manual. Baltimore, MA: Brookes.Google Scholar
  40. Pomerantz, E. M., Altermatt, E. R., & Saxon, J. L. (2002). Making the grade but feeling distressed: Gender differences in academic performance and internal distress. Journal of Educational Psychology, 94, 396–404. doi:10.1037/0022-0663.94.2.396.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Ruble, D. N., Martin, C. L., & Berenbaum, S. A. (2006). Gender development. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons Inc..Google Scholar
  42. Rudasill, K. M. (2011). Child temperament, teacher–child interactions, and teacher–child relationships: A longitudinal investigation from first to third grade. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 26, 147–156. doi:10.1016/j.ecresq.2010.07.002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Serbin, L. A., & Connor, J. M. (1979). Gender-typing of children’s play preferences and patterns of cognitive performance. Journal of Genetic Psychology, 134, 315–316. doi:10.1080/00221325.1979.10534065.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Serbin, L. A., Connor, J. M., & Iler, I. (1979). Gender-stereotyped and nonstereotyped introductions of new toys in the preschool classroom: An observational study of teacher behavior and its effects. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 4, 261–265. doi:10.1111/j.1471-6402.1979.tb00713.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Skager, R. (2014). Organizing schools to encourage self-direction in learners. Elmsford, NY: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  46. Tabachnick, B. G., & Fidell, L. S. (2007). Using multivariate statistics (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon/Pearson Education.Google Scholar
  47. Thorne, B. (1993). Gender play: Girls and boys in school. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  48. Trawick-Smith, J. (1998). A qualitative analysis of metaplay in the preschool years. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 13, 433–452. doi:10.1016/S0885-2006(99)80049-0.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Trawick-Smith, J., & Dziurgot, T. (2011). ‘Good-fit’teacher–child play interactions and the subsequent autonomous play of preschool children. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 26, 110–123. doi:10.1016/j.ecresq.2010.04.005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Wolfgang, C. H., Stannard, L. L., & Jones, I. (2001). Block play performance among preschoolers as a predictor of later school achievement in mathematics. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 15, 173–180. doi:10.1080/02568540109594958.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kristen L. Granger
    • 1
  • Laura D. Hanish
    • 1
  • Olga Kornienko
    • 1
  • Robert H. Bradley
    • 1
  1. 1.T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family DynamicsArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

Personalised recommendations