University of Jyväskylä

Dissertation: 13.12.2017 Teaching practices in early primary school: Dimensions, Patterns and Consequences (Tang)

Start date: Dec 13, 2017 12:00 PM

End date: Dec 13, 2017 03:00 PM

Location: Mattilanniemi, MaA 211

Xin Tang picture: Wendan Qian
M.Ed. Xin Tang defends his doctoral dissertation in Psychology "Teaching Practices in Early Primary School: Dimensions, Patterns and Consequences". Opponent Assisstant Professor Antje von Suchodoletz (New York University Abu Dhabi) and custos Professor Marja-Kristiina Lerkkanen (University of Jyväskylä). 

The pursuit of effective teaching has been undergoing for decades. The present thesis aims to identify effective teaching practices for reading skills from grade 1 to 3. Three teaching practices, i.e., child-centred practices, teacher-directed practices and child-dominated practices, were observed by using the Early Childhood Classroom Observation Measure (ECCOM). A person-oriented approach was used to find groups of teachers who showed their predominate way to use teaching practices (i.e., teaching styles). Then the associations between teaching styles and reading skills were examined. Data were collected from Finland and Estonia.

We found, firstly, four teaching styles among first-grade Finnish and Estonian teachers: child-centered style, teacher-directed style, child-dominated style, and a mixture teaching style (using both child-centred and teacher-directed practices). For grade 3 teachers, one extra style was found: the extreme-child-centred style.

Secondly, in general, the child-centred style and mixture teaching style showed more beneficial influences on students’ reading skills than other teaching styles. By contrast, the child-dominated style was found to have detrimental impacts on children’s reading skills. The extreme-child-centred style was showed little beneficial for reading fluency in grade 3. Thirdly, Finnish teachers show higher proportion in using of more effective teaching styles than Estonian teachers.

Our results implied that teacher-directed practices can be used together with child-centred practices to produce the best results for first and third graders’ reading skills and its development. Also, teacher should be cautious in using child-dominated practices and extreme-child-centred practices in early primary stages. School teachers and educators may find this work useful.

More information:

Xin Tang,, 044 231 3345

Communications Officer Anitta Kananen,, 040 805 4142

The dissertation is published in the series Jyväskylä Studies in Education, Psychology and Social Research, number 601, 64 p., Jyväskylä 2017, ISSN: 0075-4625, ISBN: 978-951-39-7263-9 (PDF). Permanent link to this publication:

Xin Tang received Bachelor of Science degree from Fujian Agricultural and Forest University in 2009. He then graduated from Southeast University with Master degree of Education in 2013. He studied as a doctoral student in University of Jyväskylä during 2013-2017.


The present thesis tested the reliability and validity of the Early Childhood Classroom Observation Measure (ECCOM; Stipek & Byler, 2004, 2005), identified the profiles of teaching practices, i.e., teaching styles, and, finally, examined the predictive role of teaching styles in early primary students’ reading skills.

The data stem from the First Step longitudinal study in Finland, and the Kindergarten-School Study and the Reading Study in Estonia. A total of 91 first-grade teachers and 70 third-grade teachers were observed using the ECCOM instrument. One thousand and twelve first-grade students and 958 third-grade students in the classrooms of these teachers were examined in terms of their reading skills, i.e., fluency and comprehension. A subgroup of 359 Finnish students reading skills was tested longitudinally from grade 1 to grade 3.

The results of the present thesis firstly suggest that the ECCOM is a valid classroom observation tool in Finnish and Estonian early primary grades. Secondly, the thesis identified four latent profiles of teaching practices in the first grade: child-centred, teacher-directed, child-dominated, and mixture teaching style, i.e., a mixture of child-centred and teacher-directed practices. In addition, one extra profile was found in the third grade: extreme-child-centred style. Thirdly, Finnish teachers used less of the child-dominated style in grade 1 and more of the child-centred style, but less of the extreme-child-centred style in grade 3 than Estonian teachers. Finally, the child-centred style and mixture teaching style showed more beneficial influences on students’ reading skills development than other teaching styles. By contrast, the child-dominated style was found to have detrimental impacts on children’s reading skills development. The extreme-child-centred style did not, however, contribute positively to reading fluency in grade 3.

Overall, the results suggest that the ECCOM is a valid and reliable measure of classroom practices in school environments outside the United States. Moreover, the use of the person-oriented approach can expand our understanding of teaching practices in important ways, and child-centred and teacher-directed practices can be used in conjunction to support children’s reading skills development in early school years.

More information

Xin Tang
044 231 3345
Filed under: