Research Foundations and Emerging Evidence











COSC Approach: Research Foundations and Emerging Evidence

Student-Teacher Relationships, Practice-based Coaching, & the COSP Professional Learning Series


Research Foundations for Student-Teacher Relationships


Teacher smiling at young students

Children who have strong relationships with adults do better in learning environments. Interactions between children and adults are the primary mechanism for development and learning. We know this to be true for a child’s attachment to their parents, but, we also have a solid research base on the influence of a child’s attachment with their teachers. In over 25 years of research, close and secure attachment in the classroom is associated with higher grades, greater emotional regulation, social competence, and willingness to take on challenges. There is evidence that these positive effects are stronger for students who are struggling. Below you can find foundational research and studies supporting the importance of student-teacher relationships in learning.

If you're interested in the research that supports the Circle of Security models, you can find more information on our Research page.

Cozolino, L. (2014). Attachment-Based Teaching: Creating a Tribal Classroom (The Norton Series on the Social Neuroscience of Education). WW Norton & Company.

Bergin, C., & Bergin, D. (2009). Attachment in the classroom. Educational psychology review, 21(2), 141-170.

Hamre, B.K., & Pianta, R.C. (2005). Can instructional and emotional support in the first grade classroom make a difference at risk for school failure? Child Development, 76(5), 949-967.

Pianta, R. C. (2006). Teacher-child relationships and early literacy. Handbook of early literacy research, 2, 149-162.

Silver, R. B., Measelle, J. R., Armstrong, J. M., & Essex, M. J. (2005). Trajectories of classroom externalizing behavior: Contributions of child characteristics, family characteristics, and the teacher–child relationship during the school transition. Journal of School Psychology, 43(1), 39-60.

The significance of these research findings for children’s long term wellbeing and development has been recognized in recent policy recommendations shared by the US Office of Administration for Children and Families. These guidelines for early childhood care emphasize the centrality of the social, emotional, behavioral and mental health needs of children – a focus shared with the COS Classroom Approach.

Rather than learning techniques to manage children’s behaviors, the COS Classroom Approach brings lasting change to early care professionals and the children in their care by developing relationship capacities. Children who have the opportunity to experience a secure base relationship with a trustworthy adult who they see every day learn relationship capacities from these adults that they will carry with them – capacities for positive relationships, emotion regulation, executive functioning, and other capacities that accompany security, like trust, patience, and cooperation. These social-emotional skills allow children to engage with the world around them and make learning easier. We also know that investing in the wellbeing and mental health of early care providers supports positive outcomes for children and caregivers alike.

Click here to read more about the recommendations from the US Office of Administration for Children and Families.

Research Foundations for Practice-based Coaching


Infographic showing the practice-based coaching cycle

Figure 1. Practice-Based Coaching Cycle. Retrieved online from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Head Start (2020).

Practice-based coaching (PBC) is an evidence-based approach with early care professionals designed to support teachers’ use of effective teaching practices that lead to positive outcomes for children. PBC includes shared goal setting and action-planning; regular, focused observations; and reflection and feedback sessions. COSC Coaching supports teachers’ implementation of COSC Approach concepts and practices in the classroom within the PBC cycle as a way to organize the coaching experience.

Snyder, P. A., Hemmeter, M. L., & Fox, L. (2015). Supporting implementation of evidence-based practices through practice-based coaching. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 35(3), 133-143.

National Center on Early Childhood Development Quality, Teaching and Learning (2020). Practice-based Coaching: What is Practice-based Coaching?. Retrieved online https://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/pbc-handout.pdf


Emerging Research for the COSP Classroom Professional Learning Series (Tier 1)


Simple hand in hand illustration

There is emerging research from our community partners regarding the effectiveness of the COSP Classroom Professional Learning Series, Tier 1.

Sarah Gray from Tulane University found that COSP Classroom positively impacted teacher mental health and relationships with children.

Gray, S. (2015). Widening the circle of security: A quasi‐experimental evaluation of attachment‐based professional development for family child care providers. Infant Mental Health Journal, 36(3), 308-319.2

Click here to read more about the study.

Researcher Johanne Smith-Nielsen of the Center for Early Intervention and Family Research at the University of Copenhagen is currently leading a project studying the effects of COSP Classroom Professional Learning Series on the relationships between child care staff and the children in their care.

Click here to read more about the project.

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