Date of Award

Spring 5-11-2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Counseling and Psychological Services

First Advisor

Kristen Varjas, Psy.D.

Second Advisor

Andrew T. Roach, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Catherine P. Cadenhead, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Gary E. Bingham, Ph.D.

Abstract

ABSTRACT

KINDERGARTEN TEACHERS’ KNOWLEDGE AND PERCEPTIONS OF EARLY LEARNING-RELATED SKILLS AND THEIR RELATIONSHIP TO ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT

by

Kathryn Powell

Historically, the kindergarten curriculum emphasized social-emotional development including interpersonal and learning-related skills (Logue, 2007). Researchers have confirmed that teachers valued social-emotional development, particularly learning-related skills, as foundational skills to school readiness and future academic achievement (e.g., Heaviside & Farris, 1993). Since the implementation of No Child Left Behind (NCLB, 2002), the focus of kindergarten has changed to incorporate additional academic standards and goals (Fantuzzo et al., 2007). This mixed method study (Tashakkori & Teddlie, 1998) utilized quantitative (i.e., surveys) and qualitative (i.e., semi-structured interviews) methods to investigate and compare the perceptions of pre-NCLB to post-NCLB kindergarten teachers regarding the significance of learning-related skills to academic achievement. A sample (N=97) of certified kindergarten teachers currently working in and around the metro Atlanta area with one or more years of kindergarten experience were administered surveys. Thirty participants from the larger sample were included in the qualitative phase of the study. It was hypothesized that teachers would rate learning-related skills as important precursors to academic achievement; however, pre-NCLB teachers would rate learning-related skills as more important than their peers. The results suggested that there was no difference in pre- and post-NCLB teachers’ perceptions of the importance of learning-related skills to students’ school readiness. There also, was not a significant difference in how pre- and post-NCLB kindergarten teachers prioritized school readiness skills (learning-related, interpersonal, academic). However, when asked to rank these skills in terms of importance there was a significant difference between the two groups. Pre-NCLB teachers indicated interpersonal skills as more important to school readiness than post-NCLB teachers and post-NCLB teachers indicated academic skills as more important than pre-NCLB teachers. No significant difference was found in teachers’ beliefs about achievement or efficacy. Implications for curriculum, policy, research, and practice will be discussed.

Share

COinS