Theses Doctoral

Persisting Preschoolers: Using Storybooks to Increase Persistence on Difficult Tasks

Hachigian, Amy

Persistence is a critical component of problem-solving and is predictive of academic achievement. Despite the crucial importance of fostering persistence during early childhood, most researchers have developed interventions for school settings (e.g., elementary and middle school) rather than formulating strategies and tools to increase persistence for early education settings (e.g., preschools and nursery centers). This dissertation investigates whether and how storybooks can be used to increase preschoolers’ perseverance (assessed via time spent attempting to complete challenging tasks). The researcher-developed books in this study demonstrate how sustained effort towards a difficult goal and the use of multiple problem-solving strategies are essential to goal-achievement despite moments of setback or failure (struggle-stories). To evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention on general perseverance, the amount of time spent on two transfer tasks (puzzle & search and find) was used to measure persistence. Findings did not detect statistically significant differences in persistence between children who simply heard struggle-stories and those who heard non-struggle narratives. Given a reading-only intervention is quite subtle for this young age group, this dissertation also explores two additional strategies used to complement the struggle-stories: roleplaying and praise. Results indicate child-led roleplaying after reading the struggle-stories was not an effective approach; however, children who heard researchers praise characters throughout each reading of the struggle narratives demonstrated statistically significant greater persistence on the transfer tasks. The implications for struggle-story development and the use of additional strategies to increase persistence at home or in the classroom are discussed.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Cognitive Studies in Education
Thesis Advisors
Black, John B.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
February 7, 2020