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ERIC Number: ED554685
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 184
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-3030-5077-0
Educating Early Educators: Voices of Early Childhood Educators Participating in Formal Education as Part of a Statewide Quality Rating Improvement System
Griess, Carolyn J.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, The Pennsylvania State University
Early childhood education has gained national attention as a tool for increasing outcomes and reducing risks for young children and their families. In an effort to ensure that early childhood programs are of high quality, many states are implementing systems that identify levels of criteria that denote excellence. Pennsylvania has adopted such a system, and one quality indicator relates to the educational qualifications of teachers in childcare settings. As a result, many Pennsylvania early childhood practitioners are enrolling in formal education programs. Although ongoing professional development and nontraditional students are not new phenomena, the circumstances surrounding early childhood teachers' return to formal education are unique. This dissertation addresses the need for a qualitative inquiry of early childhood teachers' experiences returning to school and how they make meaning of those experiences. Drawing on narrative inquiry, the study details the experiences of four early childhood practitioners who have recently completed or are currently pursuing further education in response to a state quality rating improvement initiative. Through semi-structured interviews, participants describe their life history, their experiences related to going back to school, and their efforts to piece together their personal, professional, and academic lives. Participant interviews were crafted into profiles that capture the uniqueness of each participant's experience as well as highlight similar experiences among participants. Multiple analyses of the profiles yielded four themes evident in each participant's discourse. Themes included "TEACH funding," "Exiting the field," "Teacher education and quality teaching," and "Appropriate coursework." An additional theme, "Program difficulty," was limited to one participant's experience but was significant enough to warrant inclusion in the write-up. Study results illustrate the perceived benefit of credentials as useful and relevant for early childhood teachers and administrators. Findings also indicate that participants find higher education coursework as less relevant to their roles and duties. Noteworthy are participants' beliefs regarding the usefulness and relevancy of their courses. In the study, terms are not used interchangeably. However, the dialogue brings to light participants' tension between the content of coursework and the degree to which learners perceive it is applicable to their professional roles and responsibilities. Overall, formal education and training programs are found to be valuable for maintaining early childhood education's status as a profession and for increasing the quality of young children's everyday experiences. Discussion addresses participants' individual and shared experiences in relationship to the larger context of early childhood teacher qualifications. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Early Childhood Education; Preschool Education; Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Pennsylvania