The relationship between classroom quality-related variables and engagement levels in Swedish preschool classrooms: a longitudinal study.

Castro, S.
Granlund, M.
Almqvist, L.
European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 1-14.


The purpose of this study is to identify predictors affecting children’s engagement over time. Engagement is the children’s active participation in the activities or routines at the preschool, as well as their appropriate interactions with their surroundings. According to the author, degree of engagement affects the children’s learning, and therefore, engagement is seen as a predictor for children’s activities, well-being and involvement in the preschool.


The study concludes that the quality of ECEC in Sweden is generally high — especially in relation to the preschool teachers’ use of emotional language, which explains the high level of group engagement observed. Of the three quality aspects measured, emotional support and classroom organisation were found to have a particularly positive effect on the children’s engagement. According to the author, a possible explanation for the lack of effect of the third aspect (educational support), could be that educational support has an indirect effect on the child’s learning through a direct effect on emotional support. Therefore, the third aspect also has an effect, although it is indirect and has not been documented in this study.

The results furthermore show that the preschools which were investigated are very much characterised by high levels of emotional support, classroom organisation and educational support. The study shows that, as the relationship between preschool teacher and child develops, the three quality aspects similarly improve significantly over time, whereas the children’s engagement level remains stable over time. According to the author, this may indicate that the child’s engagement only keeps improving in preschools where quality is at the low end of the scale, because there is room for improvement of quality at such preschools.



The study included 55 preschool units with a total of 165 preschool teachers, who were observed for 12 months by means of the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS), a standardised observation tool used to assess the quality of preschools.  Engagement was measured through observations of the children’s focus and participation in various adult-initiated activities. The assessment tool measures the following three aspects of preschool quality: (1) emotional support (assessment of preschool environment, degree of sensitivity and responsiveness of preschool teachers, and degree of punishment or respect), (2) classroom organisation (efficient behavioural control, clear expectations, proactiveness, efficient use of time, efficient routines and transitions, and encouragement of the children’s interests and engaging practices, and (3) instructional support (quality of feedback and language adjustment, i.e. conversations, open questions, repetitions, expansion, argumentation, creativity, integration). The preschool teachers were observed while engaged in various daily activities with one or more children. Subsequently, data was analysed though statistical analyses.


Castro, S., Granlund, M. & Almqvist, L. (2015). The relationship between classroom quality-related variables and engagement levels in Swedish preschool classrooms: a longitudinal study. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 1-14.

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