Relevant Degree Programs
Graduate Student Supervision
Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - Nov 2019)
Early childhood is a critical developmental period when children form social and emotional sensitivities that will support or undermine their mental health throughout their lives. It is estimated that over half of lifetime mental health problems develop before the age of fourteen, and yet early identification and intervention efforts are often hindered by limited recognition of early mental health indicators and a general absence of population-level monitoring systems. This dissertation addresses these gaps, applying a novel approach (person-centered analysis) to identify latent profiles of social-emotional functioning within population cohorts of children entering Kindergarten in British Columbia from 2001 to 2012. Early childhood social-emotional functioning was measured using the teacher-rated Early Development Instrument (EDI) population health survey that includes measures of internalizing and externalizing behaviours (readiness to explore, aggression, hyperactivity) as well as social competence. Latent profile analysis was used to identify distinguishable profiles of early childhood social-emotional functioning at a population-level. Unique profiles of social-emotional functioning were identified consistently across the three analyses included in this dissertation, with over 55% of children demonstrating overall high social-emotional functioning, over 40% of children demonstrating relative vulnerabilities in internalizing and externalizing behaviours, and approximately 3% of children experiencing multiple comorbid vulnerabilities on nearly all measures. Chapter 2 identifies social gradients in the severity of early childhood social-emotional vulnerabilities, with boys and lower income children over-represented in lower functioning social-emotional profiles. Chapter 3 examines children’s likelihood of depression, anxiety, conduct disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and multiple conditions, and finds that the profile group to which children belong in Kindergarten is predictive of their experience of mental health conditions up to ten years later. Chapter 4 demonstrates that children’s Kindergarten social-emotional profile group is also predictive of their self-reported well-being in middle childhood, with evidence that supportive relationships with adults and peers partially mediates these associations. These studies inform our understanding of patterns of early childhood social-emotional functioning by identifying social conditions and behaviour patterns predictive of children’s future mental health outcomes that can be targeted earlier in the life course to help mitigate mental health problems and promote well-being.
Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
BACKGROUND: Understanding the measurement of life satisfaction and its association with social supports among children from diverse language backgrounds is a key step of measuring healthy child development in British Columbia (BC). The Satisfaction with Life Scale adapted for Children is a self-report measure of child life satisfaction and has exhibited sound psychometric properties for a representative population of children in BC. If found to show measurement equivalence (ME) across subgroups, SWLS-C means and correlates can be meaningfully compared across such subgroups. Peer and adult support positively relate to SWLS-C scores for BC children overall but such relationships are unknown for specific language background groups. Using language background as a proxy for cultural background, this thesis examined: 1) the cross-cultural ME of the SWLS-C; 2) cross-cultural differences in SWLS-C means; 3) the cross-cultural ME of peer support and adult support scales; 4) cross-cultural associations of peer and adult support with SWLS-C scores. METHOD: Participants were 20,119 BC children (Mage 9.2; 50.2% male) who completed the SWLS-C, peer support, and adult support scales as part of a child health survey (the Middle-Years Development Instrument). ME of the SWLS-C, peer support, and adult support scales was examined across eight cultural (i.e., language) background groups. Means and inter-relationships of the SWLS-C, peer support, and adult support scales were estimated across cultural background groups.RESULTS: Findings supported ME between the English group and: all other cultural background groups for the SWLS-C, three other cultural background groups for the peer support scale, and six other cultural background groups for the adult support scale. Relative to the English group, SWLS-C means differed for several cultural background groups - variation consistent with mean differences for the peer support and adult support scales. Within each cultural background group, peer and adult support scale scores positively related to SWLS-C scores. DISCUSSION: This thesis provided evidence for meaningful comparison of life satisfaction, peer support, and adult support means across diverse cultural background groups, highlighting differences in life satisfaction between cultural background groups of children, but underscored the importance of fostering adult and peer support to promote healthy child development.
The full abstract for this thesis is available in the body of the thesis, and will be available when the embargo expires.
One in three B.C. children start kindergarten vulnerable (26 Oct 2016)