Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Understanding child development in context: Exploring family and teacher perspectives through case study research
by Anderson, Elizabeth McKendry, Ed.D., State University of New York at Binghamton, 2008, 217; 3338834
Abstract (Summary)

Different theoretical frameworks and research methodologies complicate understanding, conducting, and evaluating research on children’s development. Most books and articles for families and introductory textbooks for teachers are organized according to normative stages of acquisition or the chronological ages at which a “typical” child will master certain developmental tasks (Feldman, 2007; Gross, 2008). Many children, however, do not follow a “typical” pattern of development because of unique genetic and biological dispositions as well as a variety of contextual factors, most notably interactive relationships (Zeanah, 2000).

Using a socio-cultural theoretical framework within an ecological perspective, this research used a case study format to explore how families and teachers understand the development of three children with developmental delays that include social and emotional difficulties. In keeping with an ecological framework, this study also explored each child’s “fit” within the social organizations, belief systems, and lifestyles that prevailed in his or her particular culture or subculture (Bronfenbrenner, 1979).

Data were collected through home and school observations and semi-structured interviews with the parents and teachers of three children attending a primary school in Central New York State. The first level of data analysis was the creation of descriptive case studies. A second level of analysis involved the coding and interpretation of categories as indicated by the data. Data analysis revealed that parents and teachers understand a child’s development differently because they become conscious of it at different times and construct meaning out of it in unique ways. For parents, the contexts and interactions surrounding their child’s evaluation process greatly influenced their emotional response to, and understanding of, their child’s development primarily in terms of one developmental area. As a result, subtle, yet important changes in other developmental areas went unnoticed or diminished in potential importance making it difficult for parents to optimize potential outcomes through advocacy. For teachers, understandings of a child’s development were framed by an existing personal teaching philosophy. The stronger and more complimentary the understandings of a child’s development by both teachers and parents the greater the likelihood of developmental opportunities for the child.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Rainforth, Beverly
Commitee: Bronstein, Laura, Kugelmass, Judy
School: State University of New York at Binghamton
Department: Educational Theory and Practice
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 69/12, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Early childhood education, Elementary education, Special education, Individual & family studies
Keywords: Child development, Families, Family, Social and emotional development, Teacher education
Publication Number: 3338834
ISBN: 978-0-549-93376-2
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