Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Joseph C. Witt


This study examined differing perceptions of teachers and parents pertaining to frequency and importance of social skills and problem behaviors in preschool children. Specifically, the present investigation considered social skills of preschool children considered to be At-Risk for educationally handicapping conditions as well as a group of Typical preschool children. Both teacher and parent ratings on the Social Skills Rating System (SSRS) (Gresham & Elliott, 1990) and the revised Conners Rating Scales (CRS), (Goyette, Conners, & Ulrich, 1978) were obtained from a sample of 95 preschool children. Fifty-two subjects were enrolled in an at-risk preschool program (i.e., Head Start) and 43 attended a typical preschool program. Both parents and teachers of At-Risk preschool children identified significantly fewer social skills and more problem behaviors than did parents and teachers of Typical preschool children. Teacher ratings of behaviors considered important in the preschool setting (e.g., participates in group activities) did not vary across the two groups and suggested social behaviors related to peer interactions were valued most. Some variation occurred across groups in terms of parent ratings of important social skills, with parents of At-Risk students rating behaviors pertaining to self-control as most important and parents of Typical students stressing compliance behaviors. Interrater correlations indicated low to moderate correlations between teacher and parent ratings, consistent with previous research. Convergent validity was supported by correlations between total factor scores on the SSRS and the CRS. High positive correlations were found between SSRS Problem Behavior factor and CRS teacher ratings (r =.91) and parent ratings (r =.64). Relatively strong negative correlations emerged between SSRS Social Skills factor and CRS teacher (r = $-$.62) and parent ratings (r = $-$.42). Results of discriminant function analysis revealed that 73.51% of subjects were correctly classified based on teacher ratings of social behaviors, and 69.23% based on parent ratings. Findings were discussed with implications for social skills assessment and remediation, as well as the validity of both the SSRS and CRS as viable instruments for the preschool age. These two scales appear to be useful in assessment of social competence in young children.