Curenton and colleagues collaborating to create classroom assessment instrument to evaluate sociocultural interactions in early childhood classrooms

A group of researchers from multiple universities are collaborating to create a classroom assessment instrument that could be used by researchers and educators to evaluate the sociocultural interactions in early childhood classrooms.

Bloustein School Associate Professor Stephanie M. Curenton, along with colleagues Bryant Jensen of Brigham Young University, Tonia Durden of the University of Nebraska—Lincoln, Marisha Humphries of the University of Illinois–Chicago, and Iheoma Iruka of the University of Nebraska are collaborating on the Classroom Assessment of Sociocultural Interactions-Preschool to 3rd (CASI-P3) Research Network. The goal of the CASI-P3 is to develop a valid early childhood classroom observation tool that assesses whether the classroom environment nurtures minoritized children’s learning, therefore maximizing their strengths. This observation measure will provide research audiences and educational professionals with specific and direct feedback about the quality of sociocultural interactions that support racially and ethnically minoritized young children.

The sociocultural interactions comprise those learning, communication, motivation, and emotional socialization practices that are embedded within a cultural context. The dominant culture shaping the process of education within the United States is the White, Anglo-Saxon Protestant cultural context. This dominant cultural context is exemplified in all aspects of education—the curriculum content, instructional practices, training and preparation of teachers, and engagement of families and communities. The combined effect of all these aspects can make for a classroom environment in which racially and ethnically minoritized children feel disconnected, and where their talents and abilities are unrecognized and unnurtured.

The research network has been working together on this issue since May 2015, and they have already secured one internal grant from Brigham Young University and been invited to present at three national educational conferences. Their future work entails publishing peer-reviewed papers describing the CASI and seeking future outlets for funding.