Alternative Title

Relationship between perceived organizational support and teacher-child interactions in Head Start classrooms

Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Study Type

Mixed methods


School for Social Work


Early childhood teachers-Psychology, Project Head Start (U.S.), Teacher-student relationship, Support services (Managment), Preschool, Head Start, Early childhood, Teachers, Attachment, Organizational support, Teacher-child interaction, Pay, ACEs, Classroom assessment scoring system, Structural variables, Process variables, Internal working models


The purpose ofthis study was to examine whether there is a correlation between Head Start preschool teachers’ perceived agency support and the quality of their interactions with children in their programs. This study utilized a mixed methods design with both observational and self-report measures to examine the correlation between two measures as administered in Head Start preschools programs: The Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) and the Survey of Perceived Organizational Support (SPOS). A national sample of 69 Head Start preschool teachers responded to a modified version of the SPOS that included demographic items and agreed to release their CLASS scores. Teachers were also invited to share open-ended responses about support in their agency, which were qualitatively coded to examine underlying themes. A negative correlation was found between teacher pay and the CLASS dimension Negative Climate (as pay increased, Negative Climate decreased). Correlations were also found between several CLASS dimensions and several items on the SPOS with most correlations in an expected direction. In line with literature from early childhood attachment, organizational psychology, psychodynamic perspectives, and education research, both pay and perceptions of organizational support were shown to affect preschool teachers’ capacity to, in turn, provide support to children. This is particularly a social justice issue in Head Start preschools due to their dedication to serving low-income families and children with disabilities, as well as the high rate of adverse childhood experiences (ACES) in Head Start children and Head Start teachers, which increases risk of later mental and physical health challenges.




iii, 50 pages. M.S.W., Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Ma., 2016. Includes bibliographical references (pages 32-37)

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Social Work Commons