Specifying Adult Interaction Practices as a Step Toward Enhancing Our Conceptualization of Process Quality

Andrea L.B. Ford, Maria L. Hugh, Le Anne D. Johnson, Kelsey A. Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Current conceptualizations of process quality in early childhood education highlight a variety of global classroom indicators that directly link to improved child outcomes. This conceptualization may need to be extended, however, to facilitate more meaningful change in children's development and readiness for kindergarten. To enhance our current definitions of process quality, we propose a set of more specific, observable adult interaction practice elements as a complement to existing global indicators within structural process elements and the broader preschool classroom ecology. We describe and define three practice types, as well as the individual practice elements within them, to include: (a) adult-led interaction practices, (b) child-led interaction practices, and (c) differentiated scaffolding. In operationalizing each practice element, we also provide empirical evidence as grounding for its inclusion in our conceptualization. We discuss implications and future practice and policy directions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-88
Number of pages21
JournalInfants and Young Children
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Center for Special Education Research, Institute of Education Sciences (Grant # R324A170032 ) and the National Center for Leadership in Intensive Intervention, Office of Special Education Programs (Grant #H325H140001). The statements do not necessarily reflect the views of our funders and all errors and omissions are our own.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Lippincott Williams and Wilkins. All rights reserved.


  • adult interaction practices
  • engagement
  • preschool classroom
  • process quality


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