Blocks and Playdough: Reconceptualizing Preschool Education through an Heuristic Multiple Case Study Approach
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This study utilized a multiple case study approach, informed through heuristic inquiry, which examined the ways in which preschool quality remains uneven across early childhood settings, despite the wealth of research noting the long-lasting benefits of a high quality Pre-K experience. In order to improve outcomes for all children, regardless of the Pre-K they attend, we must look at the capacity of those who deliver and supervise what happens in the classroom. This study utilized a unique lens to identify high quality Pre-K classrooms by employing teacher and director voice as the underpinning to explore what they believe constitutes a high quality Pre-K experience through a focus on teacher quality, leadership beliefs, and effective classroom practices. This vision is intended to enable children of all backgrounds to build a strong and stable foundation for a lifetime of learning. The participants in this study included three lead Pre-K teachers and three center directors. Individual teacher and director pairs each came from a unique Pre-K setting, one dependent on private tuition, one federally-funded center, and one school district preschool. Teacher and director beliefs on high quality Pre-K were discovered through data sources that include in-depth interviews, observations, and document analysis. The research findings suggest a dual theoretical framework of center organizational climate and learning community. The overarching implication of this study rests on the principle that a developmentally appropriate learning community built within a climate of trust, respect, and knowledge leads to a high quality experience in Pre-K. The teacher plays a crucial role in fostering classroom climate that is developmentally appropriate and the center director defines the center climate through use of policy, communication, visibility, understanding of developmentally appropriate practice, and establishment of a culture of collaboration.
Table of Contents
Abstract -- List of illustrations -- List of tables -- Acknowledgements -- Introduction to the study -- Review of the literature -- Methodology -- Findings and discussion -- Summary, recommendations, and conclusions -- Appendix -- Recruitment Materials -- Teacher Interview Documents -- Leader Interview Documents -- Observation Protocol -- Study Approval Documentation -- Leader Consent Forms -- Teacher Consent Forms -- References