Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Human Development and Family Studies

First Advisor

Joan E. Herwig


The purpose of this study was to examine preschool teachers' verbal interactions with children during morning self-selection time. Naturalistic (Day 1) and experimental (Day 2) designs were used to provide empirical evidence of the availability of science activities and accessible science materials in preschool classrooms. The participants were 20 head teachers of 3- to 5-year-old preschoolers employed in central Iowa child care centers. Each teacher was videotaped for two consecutive days during morning self-selection time. The most frequent preschool teachers' verbal interaction for Day 1 and Day 2 combined was giving learning guidance, and they used more verbal statements than questioning statements. Teachers tend to interact with children mostly in the art area. During the pre-planned science activity, the most frequent teacher statement was giving learning guidance (M = 2.07) and the most frequent questioning, statement was closed questions (M = 1.00). On Day 2 teachers used more learning guidance and information talk statements and more attention-focusing questions as well. On Day 1, teachers used more praise and acknowledge statements and closed questions. Teachers' use of the science-related questions (i.e., attention-focusing, problem-posing, measuring and counting, comparing, and reasoning questions) was significantly related to the classroom areas. The study showed that preschool teachers tended to use more measuring and counting questions in the block and manipulative areas and used more reasoning questions in the dramatic area. These findings suggest that children's science process skills (e.g., observing, predicting, classifying, collecting, and recording data) relate to the activity settings/materials in the classrooms. Involving a science activity seemed to increase teachers' verbal interactions, both verbal and questioning statements.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Tsung-Hui Tu



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

152 pages