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Play and Learning Strategies (PALS)

Yes (PALS Infant only)

Last Updated: October 2012

Effects Shown in Research & Outcome Measure Details for Child Development and School Readiness Outcomes

Impact Studies Rated High


Landry, S. H., Smith, K. E., & Swank, P. R. (2006). Responsive parenting: Establishing early foundations for social, communication, and independent problem-solving skills. Developmental Psychology, 42(4), 627-42.
Additional Sources:

Guttentag, C. L., Pedrosa-Josic, C., Landry, S. H., Smith, K. E., & Swank, P. R. (2006). Individual variability in parenting profiles and predictors of change: Effects of an intervention with disadvantaged mothers. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 27, p. 349-369.

Smith, K.E., Landry, S.H. & Swank, P.R. (2005). The influence of decreased parental resources on the efficacy of a responsive parenting intervention. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 73(4), pp. 711-720.

Results for PALS Infant (PALS I)
Show Study Effects Details
Outcome Effect Sample Timing of Follow-Up Sample Size Program Group Comparison Group Mean Difference or Odds Ratio
Statistical Significance
Effect Size
Outcome Type
Negative Affect (With Examiner) Favorable PALS I vs. DAS 12 months 241 mother child pairs Coefficient = -0.07 Coefficient = 0.28 Not applicable Statistically significant, p < 0.011 Study reported = 0.70 Primary
Social Skills: Cooperation No Effect PALS I vs. DAS 12 months 241 mother child pairs Coefficient = 5.56 Coefficient = 5.16 Not applicable Not statistically significant, p = 0.081 Study reported = 0.39 Primary

1 The p-values are study reported.

Show Study Outcome Measure Summary
Outcome Description of Measure Data Collection Method Properties of the Outcome Measure Outcome Type
Negative Affect (With Examiner) The frequency with which an infant displayed signs of irritation such as whining, fussing, and crying when interacting with the examiner. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.76 Primary
Social Skills: Cooperation The frequency with which an infant attempted to respond to his/her mother's request for an action or verbalization. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.62 Primary

Landry, S. H., Smith, K. E., Swank, P. R., & Guttentag, C. (2008). A responsive parenting intervention: The optimal timing across early childhood for impacting maternal behaviors and child outcomes. Developmental Psychology, 44(5), 1335-1353.
Results for PALS Infant (PALS I)
Show Study Effects Details
Outcome Effect Sample Timing of Follow-Up Sample Size Program Group Comparison Group Mean Difference or Odds Ratio
Statistical Significance
Effect Size
Outcome Type
Cooperation No Effect PALS I 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = 0.09 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p ≥ 0.05 Not available Primary
Coordinating attention and words No Effect PALS I 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = 0.26 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p ≥ 0.05 Not available Primary
PLS: auditory comprehension No Effect PALS I 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = -0.12 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p ≥ 0.05 Not available Primary
PLS: expressive comprehension No Effect PALS I 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = 1.21 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p ≥ 0.05 Not available Primary
Positive affect (of child with mother) No Effect PALS I 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = 0.18 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p ≥ 0.05 Not available Primary
PPVT-III receptive vocabulary No Effect PALS I 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = 0.18 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p ≥ 0.05 Not available Primary
Social engagement No Effect PALS I 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = -0.18 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p ≥ 0.05 Not available Primary
Use of words No Effect PALS I 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = -0.08 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p ≥ 0.05 Not available Primary
Show Study Outcome Measure Summary
Outcome Description of Measure Data Collection Method Properties of the Outcome Measure Outcome Type
Cooperation The frequency with which the child attempted to respond to his/her mother's request for an action or verbalization. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.62 Primary
Coordinating attention and words The frequency with which the child was able to direct his/her mother's attention to an object using words. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.68 Primary
PLS: auditory comprehension The PLS assesses receptive and expressive language development. Child assessment Not reported by author Primary
Positive affect (of child with mother) The frequency with which the child displayed smiles or laughter during the interaction with his/her mother. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.85 Primary
PPVT-III receptive vocabulary The PPVT -III assesses individual's receptive language skill. Raw scores were used in the analysis. Child assessment Not reported by author Primary
Social engagement The degree to which the child tried to positively engage his/her mother using verbal and non-verbal communication. The interaction was coded on a 5-point scale. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.65 Primary
Use of words The frequency with which the child communicated verbally with his/her mother during the interaction. Communication included single utterance sound, babbling with sentence like intonation, word approximation-single words, two- to three-word phrases, four- to five-word phrases, and six or more word phrases. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.68 Primary
Results for PALS Toddler (PALS II)
Show Study Effects Details
Outcome Effect Sample Timing of Follow-Up Sample Size Program Group Comparison Group Mean Difference or Odds Ratio
Statistical Significance
Effect Size
Outcome Type
Cooperation Favorable PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = -0.381 Not applicable Not applicable Statistically significant, p = .04 Study-reported = 0.30 Primary
Coordinating attention and words No Effect PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = 0.09 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p ≥ 0.05 Not available Primary
PLS: auditory comprehension No Effect PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = -1.56 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p ≥ 0.05 Not available Primary
PLS: expressive comprehension No Effect PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = -0.92 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p ≥ 0.05 Not available Primary
Positive affect (of child with mother) No Effect PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = 0.17 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p ≥ 0.05 Not available Primary
PPVT-III receptive vocabulary Favorable PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = -0.371 Not applicable Not applicable Statistically significant, p < .05 Study-reported = 0.36 Primary
Social engagement Favorable PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = -0.441 Not applicable Not applicable Statistically significant, p < .01 Study-reported = 0.32 Primary
Use of words Favorable PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = -0.421 Not applicable Not applicable Statistically significant, p < .01 Study-reported = 0.37 Primary

1 Negative coefficient values favor the intervention group.

Show Study Outcome Measure Summary
Outcome Description of Measure Data Collection Method Properties of the Outcome Measure Outcome Type
Cooperation The frequency with which the child attempted to respond to his/her mother's request for an action or verbalization. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.62 Primary
Coordinating attention and words The frequency with which the child was able to direct his/her mother's attention to an object using words. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.68 Primary
PLS: auditory comprehension The PLS assesses receptive and expressive language development. Child assessment Not reported by author Primary
PLS: expressive comprehension The PLS assesses receptive and expressive language development. Child assessment Not reported by author Primary
Positive affect (of child with mother) The frequency with which the child displayed smiles or laughter during the interaction with his/her mother. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.85 Primary
PPVT-III receptive vocabulary The PPVT -III assesses individual's receptive language skill. Raw scores were used in the analysis. Child assessment Not reported by author Primary
Social engagement The degree to which the child tried to positively engage his/her mother using verbal and non-verbal communication. The interaction was coded on a 5-point scale. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.65 Primary
Use of words The frequency with which the child communicated verbally with his/her mother during the interaction. Communication included single utterance sound, babbling with sentence like intonation, word approximation-single words, two- to three-word phrases, four- to five-word phrases, and six or more word phrases. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.68 Primary
Results for PALS Infant + Toddler (PALS I + PALS II)
Show Study Effects Details
Outcome Effect Sample Timing of Follow-Up Sample Size Program Group Comparison Group Mean Difference or Odds Ratio
Statistical Significance
Effect Size
Outcome Type
Cooperation No Effect PALS I and PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = 0.21 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p ≥ 0.05 Not available Primary
Coordinating attention and words No Effect PALS I and PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = -0.13 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p ≥ 0.05 Not available Primary
PLS: auditory comprehension No Effect PALS I and PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = 0.94 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p ≥ 0.05 Not available Primary
PLS: expressive comprehension No Effect PALS I and PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = -0.30 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p ≥ 0.05 Not available Primary
Positive affect (of child with mother) No Effect PALS I and PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = 0.19 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p ≥ 0.05 Not available Primary
PPVT-III receptive vocabulary No Effect PALS I and PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = 0.28 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p ≥ 0.05 Not available Primary
Social engagement No Effect PALS I and PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = 0.25 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p ≥ 0.05 Not available Primary
Use of words No Effect PALS I and PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs GC coeff = 0.15 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p ≥ 0.05 Not available Primary
Show Study Outcome Measure Summary
Outcome Description of Measure Data Collection Method Properties of the Outcome Measure Outcome Type
Cooperation The frequency with which the child attempted to respond to his/her mother's request for an action or verbalization. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.62 Primary
Coordinating attention and words The frequency with which the child was able to direct his/her mother's attention to an object using words. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.68 Primary
PLS: auditory comprehension The PLS assesses receptive and expressive language development. Child assessment Not reported by author Primary
PLS: expressive comprehension The PLS assesses receptive and expressive language development. Child assessment Not reported by author Primary
Positive affect (of child with mother) The frequency with which the child displayed smiles or laughter during the interaction with his/her mother. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.85 Primary
PPVT-III receptive vocabulary The PPVT -III assesses individual's receptive language skill. Raw scores were used in the analysis. Child assessment Not reported by author Primary
Social engagement The degree to which the child tried to positively engage his/her mother using verbal and non-verbal communication. The interaction was coded on a 5-point scale. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.65 Primary
Use of words The frequency with which the child communicated verbally with his/her mother during the interaction. Communication included single utterance sound, babbling with sentence like intonation, word approximation-single words, two- to three-word phrases, four- to five-word phrases, and six or more word phrases. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.68 Primary

Landry, S. H., Smith, K. E., Swank, P. R., Zucker, T., Crawford, A. D., & Solari, E. F. (2011, November 28). The effects of a responsive parenting intervention on parent–child interactions during shared book reading. Developmental Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0026400
Results for PALS Infant (PALS I)
Show Study Effects Details
Outcome Effect Sample Timing of Follow-Up Sample Size Program Group Comparison Group Mean Difference or Odds Ratio
Statistical Significance
Effect Size
Outcome Type
Behavioral responses No Effect PALS I 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs ANCOVA coeff = -0.43 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p = 0.28 Not available Primary
Comments No Effect PALS I 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs ANCOVA coeff = -0.12 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p = 0.97 Not available Primary
Coordination of gestures and verbalizations No Effect PALS I 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs ANCOVA coeff = 0.01 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p = 0.95 Not available Primary
Engagement in activity No Effect PALS I 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs ANCOVA coeff = 0.43 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p = 0.81 Not available Primary
Questions and requests No Effect PALS I 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs ANCOVA coeff = 0.01 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p = 0.26 Not available Primary
Verbal responses No Effect PALS I 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs ANCOVA coeff = -0.07 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p = 0.20 Not available Primary
Show Study Outcome Measure Summary
Outcome Description of Measure Data Collection Method Properties of the Outcome Measure Outcome Type
Behavioral responses Frequency of child's behavioral responses to maternal requests. The responses were coded as (1) ignore/refuse, (2) passive or incorrect attempt, or (3) correct response. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.81 Primary
Comments The frequency with which the child comments on a book. Responses were coded as (1) orients mother's attention without use of label, (2) labels or describes a picture, or (3) makes a connection involving elements of the story. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.76 Primary
Coordination of gestures and verbalizations Whether or not children engaged in nonverbal behaviors indicating recognition of appropriate book reading activities in conjunction with verbal responses. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.78 Primary
Engagement in activity The amount of time in which a child actively participated in the book reading activity. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.78 Primary
Questions and requests The frequency with which the child requested his/her mother identify a picture or asked his/her mother a more sophisticated question such as, "What is he doing?" Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.77 Primary
Verbal responses Frequency of child's verbal responses to maternal requests. The responses were coded as (1) attempt to respond verbally but incorrect, (2) correct verbal response, or (3) more complex verbalization including explanations, excuses, and/or alternatives. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.78 Primary
Results for PALS Toddler (PALS II)
Show Study Effects Details
Outcome Effect Sample Timing of Follow-Up Sample Size Program Group Comparison Group Mean Difference or Odds Ratio
Statistical Significance
Effect Size
Outcome Type
Behavioral responses No Effect PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs ANCOVA coeff = -0.07 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p = 0.28 Not available Primary
Comments No Effect PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs ANCOVA coeff = 0.12 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p = 0.10 Not available Primary
Coordination of gestures and verbalizations Unfavorable PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs ANCOVA coeff = -0.14 Not applicable Not applicable Statistically significant, p < .01 Not available Primary
Engagement in activity Favorable PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs ANCOVA coeff = 0.081 Not applicable Not applicable Statistically significant, p = .04 Not available Primary
Questions and requests Favorable PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs ANCOVA coeff = -0.572 Not applicable Not applicable Statistically significant, p = .01 Study reported = .16 Primary
Verbal responses No Effect PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs ANCOVA coeff = -0.17 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p = 0.06 Study-reported = 0.30 Primary

1 Positive coefficient values favors the comparison group.

2 Negative coefficient values favor the intervention group.

Show Study Outcome Measure Summary
Outcome Description of Measure Data Collection Method Properties of the Outcome Measure Outcome Type
Behavioral responses Frequency of child's behavioral responses to maternal requests. The responses were coded as (1) ignore/refuse, (2) passive or incorrect attempt, or (3) correct response. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.81 Primary
Comments The frequency with which the child comments on a book. Responses were coded as (1) orients mother's attention without use of label, (2) labels or describes a picture, or (3) makes a connection involving elements of the story. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.76 Primary
Coordination of gestures and verbalizations Whether or not children engaged in nonverbal behaviors indicating recognition of appropriate book reading activities in conjunction with verbal responses. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.78 Primary
Engagement in activity The amount of time in which a child actively participated in the book reading activity. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.78 Primary
Questions and requests The frequency with which the child requested his/her mother identify a picture or asked his/her mother a more sophisticated question such as, "What is he doing?" Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.77 Primary
Verbal responses Frequency of child's verbal responses to maternal requests. The responses were coded as (1) attempt to respond verbally but incorrect, (2) correct verbal response, or (3) more complex verbalization including explanations, excuses, and/or alternatives. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.78 Primary
Results for PALS Infant + Toddler (PALS I + PALS II)
Show Study Effects Details
Outcome Effect Sample Timing of Follow-Up Sample Size Program Group Comparison Group Mean Difference or Odds Ratio
Statistical Significance
Effect Size
Outcome Type
Behavioral responses No Effect PALS I*PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs ANCOVA coeff = -0.26 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p = 0.88 Not available Primary
Comments No Effect PALS I*PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs ANCOVA coeff = -0.30 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p = 0.42 Not available Primary
Coordination of gestures and verbalizations No Effect PALS I*PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs ANCOVA coeff = -0.42 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p = 0.50 Not available Primary
Engagement in activity No Effect PALS I*PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs ANCOVA coeff = -1.68 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p = .63 Not available Primary
Questions and requests No Effect PALS I*PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs ANCOVA coeff = -0.34 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p = 0.38 Not available Primary
Verbal responses No Effect PALS I*PALS II 3 months after program end 166 Mother-Child pairs ANCOVA coeff = -0.04 Not applicable Not applicable Not statistically significant, p = 0.50 Not available Primary
Show Study Outcome Measure Summary
Outcome Description of Measure Data Collection Method Properties of the Outcome Measure Outcome Type
Behavioral responses Frequency of child's behavioral responses to maternal requests. The responses were coded as (1) ignore/refuse, (2) passive or incorrect attempt, or (3) correct response. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.81 Primary
Comments The frequency with which the child comments on a book. Responses were coded as (1) orients mother's attention without use of label, (2) labels or describes a picture, or (3) makes a connection involving elements of the story. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.76 Primary
Coordination of gestures and verbalizations Whether or not children engaged in nonverbal behaviors indicating recognition of appropriate book reading activities in conjunction with verbal responses. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.78 Primary
Engagement in activity The amount of time in which a child actively participated in the book reading activity. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.78 Primary
Questions and requests The frequency with which the child requested his/her mother identify a picture or asked his/her mother a more sophisticated question such as, "What is he doing?" Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.77 Primary
Verbal responses Frequency of child's verbal responses to maternal requests. The responses were coded as (1) attempt to respond verbally but incorrect, (2) correct verbal response, or (3) more complex verbalization including explanations, excuses, and/or alternatives. Videotaped observation Interrater reliability = 0.78 Primary
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