Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Early Childhood Preservice Teachers' Knowledge of Children's Cognitive Development and Developmentally Appropriate Pedagogical Practices: Understanding the Role of Clinical Experiences
by Beers, Courtney, Ph.D., Florida Atlantic University, 2016, 309; 10300319
Abstract (Summary)

The quality of early caregiving and educational environments has a significant effect on children’s later cognitive outcomes. Early childhood teachers are an important determining factor in the quality of these environments. Due to inconsistencies in practice across the early childhood field, there is a call for better prepared teachers. Teacher preparation itself is criticized for its lack of innovative and effective practices. While research finds that more effective teacher preparation programs are those that are steeped in clinical practice, these types of experiences are inconsistent and fragmented in the early childhood field. Part of the issue is the lack of knowledge on how to integrate highquality clinical experiences carefully into early childhood teacher preparation in order to prepare all preservice teachers successfully for the classroom.

The purpose of this qualitative study was to propose a middle-range, systematic theory for the types of practices and ideologies that the most successful early childhood teacher education programs use to prepare their preservice teachers for the education profession. A more focused purpose of this grounded theory study was to describe the ways in which early childhood preservice teachers learn about children’s cognitive development as well as how they describe their application of this knowledge to developmentally appropriate pedagogical practices. A secondary purpose of this study was to examine these various clinical models as described by experts in the field. Analysis was completed on semi-structured interviews with preservice teachers and faculty members, open-ended surveys completed by preservice teachers, and university documents. As a result of rigorous data analysis, a theory emerged to explain clinical practice at three model early childhood teacher preparation programs. Findings suggest that there are seven layers of strength that contribute to the model programs’ expertise in preparing their preservice teachers. This study is significant in that it reports researchbased elements that may contribute to policy regarding models for teacher preparation and meaningful clinical experiences.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Bhagwanji, Yash
School: Florida Atlantic University
School Location: United States -- Florida
Source: DAI-A 78/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Pedagogy, Early childhood education, Educational psychology, Teacher education, Developmental psychology
Keywords: Child development, Teacher training
Publication Number: 10300319
ISBN: 978-1-369-42358-7
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