The purpose of this dissertation was to examine how pre-kindergarten environments provided meaningful learning opportunities to students from low socioeconomic (SES) backgrounds. Research has consistently demonstrated that there are significant disparities in achievement between students of low and high SES backgrounds prior to entering kindergarten, indicating the importance of children’s early learning experiences. The literature provided in this dissertation indicated that pre-kindergarten environments can provide learning opportunities through two vehicles: the instructional climate as well as the social and emotional climate. Each of these contexts is shaped by the interactions that take place between the teacher and child as well as the child and peer.
A multiple-case study approach was employed to closely examine two pre-kindergarten classrooms at an Early Head Start program in an urban neighborhood in Southern California. The findings demonstrated that neither of the classrooms provided meaningful learning opportunities. While in both cases, the teachers aspired to provide learning opportunities that were meaningful, it was not evident that they had a strong understanding of what was expected of their role nor were they positioned to teach in a way that was meaningful. The study recommends that early childhood educators be provided with improved professional development, credentialing requirements be upgraded, and pre-K programs be held accountable to ensure that students are taught according to the National Association for the Education of Young Children standards. Finally, future research is recommended in several areas, including examining current professional development provided to Early Head Start educators.
|Advisor:||Slayton, Julie M|
|Commitee:||Gallagher, Raymond, Manzone, Jessica|
|School:||University of Southern California|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-A 81/9(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Early childhood education, Learning opportunities, Low socioeconomic, Meaningful, Pre-kindergarten, Preschool|
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