Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts
Do Children Displaying Different Profiles of Cognitive and Behavioral Self-Regulation Respond Differently to Early Education Programs

Do Children Displaying Different Profiles of Cognitive and Behavioral Self-Regulation Respond Differently to Early Education Programs

Headshot of Benjamin Bayly
PI: Benjamin Bayly

NSF R03HD098445
Administered in: College of Agricultural Sciences


To be successful in school, children need to control, direct, and shift their attention (cognitive self-regulation), and also control their impulses and interact appropriately with teachers and peers (behavioral self-regulation). Economically-disadvantaged children often grow up in circumstances that delay the development of their self- regulation skills. Theorists have postulated that exposure to high levels of chronic stress impedes growth in executive functions, contributing to pervasive profiles of cognitive and behavioral dysregulation. However, children may also show other patterns of self-regulation deficits, such as behavioral dysregulation alone that may have different developmental roots. A few studies suggest that children with self-regulation deficits may need and particularly benefit from enriched preschool interventions. However, there is a need to better understand how preschool profiles of self-regulation may differentially affect intervention response and longer- term benefits. Children exhibiting profiles of pervasive cognitive and behavioral dysregulation may have different early intervention needs than children exhibiting behavioral dysregulation alone. The proposed study will test the developmental hypothesis that different preschool dysregulation profiles are associated with different levels of early risk exposure and show differential predictive links to later elementary school functioning in academic and social-behavioral domains (Aim 1). The study will also test the hypothesis that preschool dysregulation profiles influence the effectiveness of classroom-based and parent-focused preschool interventions (Aim 2). Data comes from two randomized-controlled trials evaluating the Head Start REDI- Classroom (REDI-C) and Head Start REDI-Parent (REDI-P) interventions. An initial latent profile analysis (LPA) of direct observations and teacher reports revealed two unique profiles of self-regulation difficulties in this sample: pervasive cognitive-behavioral dysregulation and behavioral dysregulation only, along with two non-problematic profiles (average and high self-regulation). Participants’ (N = 566; 58% European American, 25% African American, 19% Latinx, 51% female, Mage = 4.67 years) posterior probabilities will be used to weight the likelihood of profile membership using the innovative BCH step-3 approach. With the control group sample, analyses will compare profile groups on early childhood risk exposure and, using growth curve analyses, assess links between preschool profile and trajectories of academic and social-behavioral adjustment through 3rd grade (Aim 1). Comparisons of the intervention and control groups will then illuminate how children with different preschool self-regulation skills responded to the two types of intervention (Aim 2). It is anticipated that the classroom program alone might provide sufficient intervention support for children with behavioral dysregulation profiles, whereas the more intensive classroom and parent program combined may be needed to help children exhibiting the pervasive dysregulation profile. Results will inform future targeted intervention efforts with economically-disadvantaged children designed to generate lasting school success.

Additional Faculty:

Headshot of Karen Bierman
Karen Bierman
Penn State
Headshot of Sara Vasilenko
Sara Vasilenko Syracuse University