Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Listening to infant care teachers: Valuing the knowledge, beliefs, and intentions of teachers from public center-based early care and education programs
by Carducci, Christine T., Ed.D., Mills College, 2016, 216; 10149414
Abstract (Summary)

Infant care teachers have knowledge and beliefs that shape the intentions and actions of their work. However, many teachers experience more “telling” rather than people “listening” to them. Teachers’ personal and professional knowledge and beliefs are not often brought into conversations that focus on child outcomes, program quality, teacher training, and social welfare. The aim of this qualitative study is to explore how infant care teachers from public center-based early care and education (ECE) programs understand, describe, and use their knowledge and beliefs while being intentional in their work. Three infant care teachers shared their thoughts and stories through interviews and focus group discussions. An integrated conceptual framework was created from literature on levels of knowledge development (Korthagen & Kessels, 1999) and beliefs expressed as personal practical theories (Levin & He, 2008). Rinaldi’s “pedagogy of listening” (Rinaldi, 2006) inspired the research design to keep teachers’ voices foregrounded and prominent and give value to their diverse points of view. Data collection and analysis occurred throughout the study simultaneously with coding, categorizing, and theme generation. Teachers’ stories are treated as the primary source of authentic data on which to base the research. Findings are as follows: teachers express understanding and knowledge gained from experiential learning, observation, and reflection; teachers use their knowledge thoughtfully in creating curriculum where children’s interests are valued and foundational; teachers believe themselves to be confident, professional early educators (not “babysitters”) who are intentional in providing quality, relationship-based programs. Teachers appreciate support in the form of resources and opportunities for learning; they associate these affordances with respect and increased professionalism.

Implications and recommendations for practice and further research are given. This study is a timely contribution, as recognition of the importance of children’s early years has given rise to discussion of the complexities of access, availability, and affordability (Lally, 2013; Polakow, 2013) of public ECE for infants and toddlers, and to ways of defining, organizing, and unifying within the field of ECE (Gable, 2014; Goffin, 2013) all of which is necessary for advancing the professionalism of infant care teachers to society and reaffirming their value.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Kroll, Linda
Commitee: Schultz, Katherine, Ufoegbune, Veronica, Zirkel, Sabrina
School: Mills College
Department: Education - Educational Leadership
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 77/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership, Pedagogy, Early childhood education
Keywords: Beliefs, Early childhood education, Infant care teachers, Intentions, Knowledge, Public programs
Publication Number: 10149414
ISBN: 978-1-369-04514-7
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