Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair(s)

Glendon Casto


Glendon Casto


William R. Dobson


Elwin Nielsen


Keith Checketts


Sarah Rule


Parental involvement 1n early childhood intervention with children at risk has been reported as an effective variable in treatment both in popular literature and research reviews. However, the results of meta-analyses of early intervention literature have concluded that research evidence is not currently available to support this notion. Therefore, research which employs strong methodology to study the efficacy of parental involvement in early interventions with children at risk is needed. The purpose of this study was to determine whether, in a sample of preschoolers exhibiting developmental and behavioral risk, there are posttreatment differences between different levels of parent-involved groups in developmental skill, problem behavior, or parents' childrearing behaviors and knowledge of behavioral principles.

Forty-two 3- to 5-year-old children and their parents served as the study sample. The selection criteria included showing evidence of mild or moderate developmental or behavioral problems or other risk indices. Risk data was obtained by parent report and by scores on the Battelle Developmental Inventory. Demographic data was also obtained.

Three intervention groups provided either high parental involvement, low parental involvement, or a no-treatment waiting list. Children in the high and low parental involvement groups participated 1n a four-month center - based program. Parents in the high involvement group participated in an intensive center-based program and home-based activities. Parents in the low involvement group completed only homebased activities. The children were assessed with the Battelle Developmental Inventory and the Burk's Behavior Inventory. Parents were assessed with the Iowa Parent Behavior Inventory and the Knowledge of Behavioral Principles as Applied to Children.

The three study groups were found to be comparable in terms of demographic variables and pretreatment developmental screening scores. No significant differences were found between groups on any of the child assessments. Mothers in the high parental involvement group scored significantly higher on a test of Knowledge of Behavioral Principles as Applied to Children. Additional information was provided in the study on actual (vs. intended) treatment participation and on quality of parent-child interactions. Possible reasons for lack of child treatment effects and strengths and weaknesses of this study were discussed. It was recommended that future research combine high - quality research designs with a strong conceptual framework and assess both quantitative and qualitative treatment outcomes in exploring the benefits of parental involvement in early intervention with children at risk.



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