Self-report measures of the home learning environment in large scale research: Measurement properties and associations with key developmental outcomes.


Favourable home learning environments (HLEs) support children’s literacy, numeracy and social development. In large-scale research, HLE is typically measured by self-report survey, but there is little consistency between studies and many different items and latent constructs are observed. Little is known about the stability of these items and constructs over time when used in either longitudinal research or studies with children with a wide range of ages. A review of the literature shows commonalities and differences between approaches in research on HLE. When we tested the psychometric properties of a short-form measure of HLE with a Rasch item-response-model using longitudinal data from over 1600 Australian families, there was support for two dimensions of HLE-formal and informal learning frequency. We found that this measure was stable over the transitional period from pre-K to school as well as between gender and family language background. There were small but significant associations between the HLE measures and cognitive and behavioural developmental outcomes. We recommend that other measures of HLE could be similarly validated to assess their suitability for use in longitudinal research on learning environments. Recommendations are made for the future development of measures of broader constructs of the HLE.