Practice-Based Research Syntheses

Research and Training Center on Early Childhood Development
Center for Evidence-Based Practices
Orelena Hawks Puckett Institute
Volume Two

Parent and Child Lap Games and Child Emotional and Behavioral Competence
Carl J. Dunst, Ph.D.
Mariah Waring, B.A.

Volume 2, Number 1

This synthesis examined research on the characteristics of lap games played between infants and their parents, with an emphasis on the positive social-emotional benefits of the games. Lap games such as pat-a-cake, peak-a-boo, “I’m gonna get you,” and other parent/child interactive play episodes are used by parents with their infants throughout the world. Key features of these games include reciprocity (your turn – my turn transactions) and the differentiated roles of each game participant. Results indicated that a child’s emerging awareness of his or her role in these games, and a sense of contingency awareness, contribute to increased positive social-emotional responding

Characteristics of Adult Book Reading on the Emergent Literacy of Young Children
Patricia A. Cutspec, Ph.D.
Volume 2, Number 2

This practice-based research synthesis focused on the characteristics of adult book reading that help to develop and enhance the emergent literacy of children four years of age or younger. Researchers have recently begun to understand the dynamics of the association between social interaction and literacy development and “joint book reading” styles in the home and in preschool classrooms have received more attention in the literature. This synthesis was focused on the characteristics of joint book reading in the home, as this reading occurs with adults and children with or at-risk for disabilities or delays. Cognitive and social-emotional consequences of this practice were synthesized.

Effects of Infant Massage on Cognitive and Social Development
Natalie G. Gallagher, Ph.D.
Volume 2, Number 3

The cognitive, motor, and social-emotional outcomes of infant massage were examined in nine studies of high-risk infants. These studies included 311 children, 159 of which received infant massage. Infant massage is characterized by a systematic protocol that consists of both tactile stimulation with moderate pressure and kinesthetic stimulation that takes the form of passive extension-flexion of limbs, or rocking. Despite study authors’ claims regarding the benefits of massage on cognitive, motor, and social-emotional development in high-risk infants, serious methodological flaws across these studies have rendered a number of rival explanations as equally plausible for explaining positive findings. Currently, there is insufficient evidence available to support the use of this practice for improving outcomes in the cognitive, motor, and social-emotional domains.

Pivotal Response Training as an Intervention for Young Children with Autism
Tracy Humphries, Ph.D.
Volume 2, Number 4

This research synthesis focused on the effectiveness of Pivotal Response Training as a behavioral intervention for young children with disabilities. The practice constituting the focus of this synthesis contains the following characteristics: (1) the child is allowed to choose activities; (2) the child is provided with multiple examples of the behavior to be learned during their chosen activities; (3) the child is systematically rewarded using natural reinforcers; and (4) mastered tasks are interspersed with tasks involving new learning so as to maintain the child’s experience of success.

Effectiveness of Episodic and Conjugate Reinforcement on Child Contingency Learning
Melanie Hutto, Ph.D.
Volume 2, Number 5

This synthesis is focused on contingency studies that involve the relative effectiveness of episodic versus conjugate reinforcement for children with or at-risk for delays, with guidelines for deterimining which procedures are best under which circumstances.

Influences of Parent/Infant Contingency Responses on Attachment Patterns
Danielle Kassow, Ph.D.
Volume 2, Number 6

Attachment theory states that the quality of mother-infant interaction during the first year of life lays down a basic predisposition of child behavioral organization in different contexts. Researchers believe that the behavior patterns of infants is based on infant expections of maternal behaviors. Stated differently, attachment behavior of infants is contingent on the mother’s behavior, responsiveness, and sensitivity. However, the extent to which there is evidence that contingency contributes to attachment is not known without examination of current studies. The purpose of this synthesis was to determine if there is reasonable magnitude in contingencies between child and mother to make significant contributions to attachment.

Influences of the Responsive Aspects of Home Environments on the Social-Emotional Development of Young Children
Carol M. Trivette, Ph.D.
Volume 2, Number 7

This synthesis integrated research findings regarding the influences of a responsive home environment on the social-emotional development of children. One of the most widely used definitions of responsiveness in the home found in the research literature comes from the HOME scale which isolates the emotional and verbal responsivity of the mother to the young child. This synthesis focused on studies which related this particular definition of responsive environments to the social emotional development of young children.

Interest-Based Child Participation in Everyday Learning Activities
Melinda Raab, Ph.D.
Carl J. Dunst, Ph.D.

Volume 2, Number 8

This research synthesis integrated findings regarding the characteristics of children’s interest-based participation in learning activities. The review focused on relative benefits of children’s participation in activities based on their personal interests (characteristics of the child) or based on how interesting the activities were perceived to be (characteristics of the activity).

Influence of Prompting Strategies on Early Communication Development
Nicole Roper, M.A.
Volume 2, Number 9

Much research has accumulated on prompting strategies that adults can use to facilitate early language development. These prompting strategies have been researched calling the practice mands, directives, topic continuations, and so on. The purpose of this synthesis will be to understand the characteristics of practice and to relate them to variations in outcomes. The completed synthesis will give practitioners a clearer understanding of the characteristics of prompting that are related to optimal positive child outcomes.

Influences of Cranial Sacral Therapy on Infant Behavior
Carl J. Dunst, Ph.D.
M’Lisa Shelden, Ph.D.

Volume 2, Number 10

Cranial sacral therapy is increasingly being used for treating various behavioral-related infant difficulties (colic, poor sucking, etc.). This practice-based research synthesis examined the extent to which available evidence justifies its use for specific types of infant-related problems.

Sposored by the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services

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