The First Steps (Interaction and Learning within Children-Parent-Teacher Triangle)

The First Step longitudinal study started 2006 as a one of the subprojects belonging to the Center of Excellence (CoE) in Learning and Motivation Research (2006-2011) coordinated by the University of Jyväskylä and conducted as a collaboration to University of Eastern Finland and University of Turku. The First Steps study research project has interest in learning and motivational factors and their simultaneous consideration in the contexts of families and school and especially during developmental transitions.  The follow-up began in 2006 and will be continued until 2016. The population-based sample of children (born in 2000) from four municipalities involved more than 2,000 children in Phase I from kindergarten to Grade 4, and approximately 1,800 children with their parents and teachers in Phase II in Grades 6, 7 and 9.

The First Steps study comprises a rich database of assessments of student reading and math performance, motivation and engagement, social skills, peer relations as well as wellbeing and problem behaviours. At each grades of data collection the parents have filled in questionnaires on their parenting styles, wellbeing, and background information, as well as on their children’s behaviour and motivation, beliefs and concerns regarding their child, and homework and literacy practices in the home. Similarly, at each grade, children’s teachers have filled in questionnaires concerning their teaching style, stress, pedagogical goals and practices, and classroom background information on, for example, support for children’s special needs. Teachers have also provided ratings on individual students (a subsample of 650 children of the original sample) concerning student motivation, problem behaviours and the teacher–child relationship, and partnership with parents. A subsample of the teachers have participated in classroom observations  (live observations or audio and video recordings) which have been coded using the CLASS and ECCOM observational instruments concerning teacher practices and classroom quality, and the ISI coding system concerning practices of literacy instruction.