Date of Award

5-21-2008

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educational Psychology and Special Education

First Advisor

Amy R. Lederberg - Chair

Second Advisor

Jennifer Esposito

Third Advisor

Ann Cale Druger

Fourth Advisor

Martha Abbott-Shim

Abstract

This study examined the impact of Child Development Associate (CDA) training on the beliefs and self-reported practices of early childhood teachers (N = 126) using a pre-post mixed-methods research design. Preschool teachers who were enrolled in CDA classes (n=76) and a comparison group of teachers (n = 50) completed two surveys of beliefs and self-reported practices: the Teacher Beliefs and Practices Survey: 3- to 5-Year-Olds (TBPS) (Burts, Buchanan, & Benedict, 2001) and the Early Childhood Survey of Beliefs and Practices (ECSBP) (Marcon, 1988, 1999). Repeated measures Multiple Analyses of Variance indicated teachers who had completed CDA training became significantly more developmentally appropriate on measures of beliefs and self-reported practices than a comparison group who did not attend CDA training. The CDA teachers held significantly fewer inappropriate beliefs and reported fewer inappropriate practices after training than the comparison group. Results suggest that the TBPS was a more sensitive measure than the ECSBP of beliefs and self-reported practices for these early childhood teachers, most of whom had no formal education. The decrease in developmentally inappropriate beliefs and self-reported practices on the TBPS subscales illustrates the importance of measuring not only increases in appropriate beliefs and self-reported practices but also decreases in inappropriate beliefs and self-reported practices. The Constant Comparative Method was used to organize and analyze the observation and interview data of the four case study participants. Three themes emerged which describe the effect of CDA training on the beliefs and self-reported practices of these teachers: Reflection on current practices describes the teacher who seemed to be actively considering how the material presented in the CDA training fit with her implicitly held beliefs and current practices. Confirmation of developmentally appropriate practices describes the teacher whose existing developmentally appropriate beliefs were reinforced by the training. Superficial changes describes two teachers who gained ideas for activities in the training but revealed no change in beliefs. This study suggests that CDA training decreases the developmentally inappropriateness of beliefs and self-reported practices of early childhood teachers. A change that past research suggests will ultimately impact classroom quality. Influences such as concurrent training, program requirements, and implicitly held beliefs may moderate the extent to which new concepts are accepted and existing practices are changed.

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