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ERIC Number: ED527140
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Aug
Pages: 268
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 178
Toward the Identification of Features of Effective Professional Development for Early Childhood Educators. Literature Review
Zaslow, Martha; Tout, Kathryn; Halle, Tamara; Whittaker, Jessica Vick; Lavelle, Bridget
Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, US Department of Education
This review incorporates findings from research on four "targets" of early childhood professional development: 1) strengthening human or social capital; 2) strengthening practices at institutions or organizations providing professional development; 3) strengthening early educator practices related to specific child outcomes; and, 4) strengthening overall quality in classroom or group settings (see Figure 1). Research in each target area was reviewed, and for the two last areas (on specific content areas and overall quality of education and care for young children) for which there is a body of evaluation research, details about the specific studies were analyzed. The literature review analyzed the research on professional development of early childhood educators to work toward identification of a set of core features that characterize effective professional development. With input from the Technical Work Group for this project, it was determined that the research on early childhood professional development is at an early stage. Much of the research is descriptive and correlational rather than involving rigorously executed experimental studies. When evaluations have been carried out, the focus is much more on curricula and their implementation than on the preparation of early childhood educators to use them. Significant questions remain about which features of professional development for early childhood educators, singly and in "packages," are most effective for improving both educator and child outcomes. The literature does point to an initial set of conclusions that can serve as a starting point toward the identification of effective practices in early childhood professional development. These initial conclusions are in accord with the conclusions of the Committee on Early Childhood Pedagogy (National Research Council 2001) and the findings from other evaluations of professional development programs (Epstein 1993; Garet et al. 1999). These initial conclusions can serve as hypotheses for future work. The evidence suggests that professional development for early childhood educators may be more effective when: (1) There are specific and articulated objectives for professional development; (2) Practice is an explicit focus of the professional development, and attention is given to linking the focus on early educator knowledge and practice; (3) There is collective participation of teachers from the same classrooms or schools in professional development; (4) The intensity and duration of the professional development is matched to the content being conveyed; (5) Educators are prepared to conduct child assessments and interpret their results as a tool for ongoing monitoring of the effects of professional development; and (6) It is appropriate for the organizational context and is aligned with standards for practice. Methodologies, features of professional development, and outcomes on the following studies are appended: (1) Language and Literacy Studies; (2) Early Mathematics Studies; (3) Child Social Behavior Studies; (4) Comprehensive Curricula Studies; and (5) General Approaches Studies. (Contains 1 figure, 20 tables and 12 footnotes.
Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, US Department of Education. Available from: ED Pubs. Education Publications Center, US Department of Education, NTIS, P.O. Box 22207, Alexandria, VA 22304. Tel: 877-433-7827; Fax: 703-605-6794; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Adult Education; Early Childhood Education; Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development (ED), Policy and Program Studies Service; Child Trends