A systematic literature review was performed. In this section the search procedure, inclusion and exclusion criteria, selection process, data extraction and quality assessment will be described.
The search for this systematic literature review was made in March 2017, using online databases. The search was conducted on the database ERIC, PsycINFO and Web of Science. The search included the same search words, with some minor changes depending on the database to get a maximum result of relevant articles for this study. The search was conducted using following terms: Early childhood education, preschool, kin-dergarten, behavior problems, challenging behaviors, behavior difficulties, aggressive behaviors, interven-tions, methods, program, educational strategies, support, peer acceptance, friendship, peer relations and peer interactions. See Appendix A for a more detailed information about the search terms in each database.
A hand search was preformed while doing the full text screening, looking into the literature lists of the articles. That was made to cover all the relatable articles, but no articles were relevant for this research and had to be excluded based on inclusion and exclusion criteria.
The literature search results were selected according to inclusion and exclusion criteria which were deter-mined in advance.
Diagnosed emotional and behavior disabilities, children with other disabilities Support implemented outside the preschool setting Abstracts, study protocols, books, book chap-ters, conference papers, thesis and others Articles older than from 1990, articles to pay
Systematic literature reviews
For this literature review articles written in English, published between January 1990 – February 2017 were included. Articles had to have free accessibility and had to be peer reviewed journals. Other literature such as books, chapters, thesis, papers, protocols, literature reviews were excluded. Articles need to be focused on the preschool children between 2 and 6 years with behavior problems. The age of two was chosen, because children at that age can already show both prosocial and aggressive behavior with peers (Hay et al., 11 2000; Rubin, Burgess, Dwyer & Hastings, 2003). According to the Institute for Statistics of UNESCO (2010), children attend to elementary school at the age of six in 61.8% of all countries. Thus, there is a great number of countries where children are still in the last year of kindergarten, before school cycle begins, so those children were included. All the other articles concerning the other age groups were excluded. If the target group is children with diagnosed behavior disability (ADS, ADHD or any other disability…), they were excluded, because this group is not relevant to the aim of this study. Intervention studies including special support provided within preschool context with purpose to improve peer interaction for children in preschool setting, were included. Research focusing on support outside the preschool setting were excluded (e.g. child has to attend other facility such as hospital or therapy center to get special support). Focus was on behavior problems (internalized and externalized), challenging behavior and misbehavior. The terms “internalized behavior problems” and “externalized behavior problems”, were not included, because the term “behavior problems” includes both.
The selection process of the search can be seen on the flowchart below:
In total 222 articles was found,22 Articles were excluded, because they were duplicates. The remaining 202 articles were screened on title and abstract level according the inclusion and exclusion criteria. The remaining 72 articles were screened on full text level, considering inclusion and exclusion criteria. Total of five articles were matching all the criteria and were chosen for data analysis.
Title and abstract screening
For the screening process the online tool Zotero was used. All the 222 articles were imported in Zotero and checked for duplicates. Afterwards, the other 202 articles were screened on title and abstract level, using inclusion and exclusion criteria (see Table 1).
Most of the articles were excluded, because they did not include interventions, therapies, special support, preschool activities, training programs, educational strategies or methods for supporting peer interaction. The main result of the excluded articles was focusing on the relation between behavior problems and peer interaction. However, many of the researchers discussed suggestions for implementation of interventions based on their results, but did not include specific interventions in the design of the empirical study. During the screening of the abstracts and titles, it was clear that few articles are targeting children with diagnosed disabilities, that is why they were excluded. From some abstract it was unclear whether the research was conducted in kindergarten or research center, at home or in multiple settings. Some articles had support implemented in other settings like therapy centers, home or experimental classroom in the hospital. How-ever, if therapies were implemented in preschool setting, the article was included. One article was excluded because it was not empirical study, but was theoretical research. After this process, there were 72 articles left for full text screening.
Full text screening
Full text screening was based on exclusion and inclusion criteria. While doing the full text screening the focus was on the method part, especially on the participants and the setting information. Because the studies were conducted in different countries, the age of children was unclear, so the full text screening was neces-sary. Three articles were excluded because the target group was within elementary school. Nine articles were excluded, because they were longitudinal studies about the children from the age of three to age of seven or eight. More than half articles were excluded because they involved children with diagnosis. Some articles that were screened had only few participants within the required age range, therefore were excluded. Small number of articles were excluded because the support was partly implemented in preschool setting and partly at home or other institution. The rest of the articles were excluded, because they did not include peer interactions.
The found articles were meeting all the criteria according to age span and interventions within preschool context, with focus on the support and the outcomes of the research. While doing the full text screening, the aim and research questions were considered. Selection process resulted in five articles. A full test screen-ing was conducted once again on the five articles, to assure that any information was not overlooked.
The Quantitative Quality Assessment Tool (CCEERC, 2013) was used to assess the quality of the articles (See Appendix B). The tool originally had 11 items and a ranking scale from 1, 0, -1 points and a Not applicable (NA) option. An adaptation of the tool was made, adding peer review, aim and research ques-tions/hypothesis, information about interventions, study design, follow up and control group. The changes were made to address the interventions and important aspects that quantitative studies should have. Some changes concerning measures were made. The adapted tool used scale of 0, 1 and 2 points, non-applicable option was removed. The tool measured 17 items, which were categorized into four main themes: article publication and background, the method, the measurement and the analysis.
The ranking scale consists of a total of 24-31 points for high quality, 16-23 points for medium high quality, 8-15 points for medium quality and 0-7 points as low quality. Two articles were identified as high quality and three articles had medium high quality. No articles were excluded, because of the quality.
Data extraction protocol was designed in Excel, to have a clear overview on the chosen articles (n=5). The extraction protocol was used to extract the general information such as author’s name, year, title, journal, study aim, research questions/ hypothesis, country where the study was made, rationale and ethical consid-erations. It also collected information about participants (sample size, gender, age) and symptoms of behav-ior problems, and details about the special supports such as support type, setting, control group, involve-ment of teachers/parents/peers/others. The information about the outcomes of supports was gathered. That section included outcomes on behavior problems and peer interaction, and the measurement of out-comes. The protocol also includes study design, data collection and the results with conclusion and limita-tions (see Appendix C).
The systematic literature search, abstract screening process and full text screening process resulted in five articles. The search was oriented to find all kinds of special support in preschool setting, but only interven-tions were found. The term “special support” further in the text refers to interventions in the founds studies.
The included articles were published between 1999 and 2011. All included articles consist special support for preschool children with behavior problems. The studies were conducted in three different countries, three articles were conducted in USA, one in Canada and one in Luxembourg. See Table 2 below for more information.
1.1 Emotional and behavioral disorders
1.2 Peer interaction
1.4 Bronfenbrenner´s bio-ecological model
1.6 Research Questions
2.1 Search procedure
2.2 Inclusion and exclusion criteria
2.3 Selection process
3.1 Description of the included articles
3.2 Outcomes on behavior problems and peer interaction
3.3 Observed behavior problems
3.4 Types of special support
4.1 Outcomes of the interventions
4.2 Observed behavior problems
4.3 Discussion of interventions
4.4 Methodological issues and limitations
4.5 Future research and implications
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