Faculty Beliefs in Early Childhood Teacher Preparation
Teacher preparation programs in the United States face increasing pressure to restore America as the preeminent leader in a knowledge-based global economy by graduating a highly skilled workforce. A growing national focus on the importance of early childhood education as a key factor for improving student performance is drawing attention to preparation programs for teachers of young children. College administrators of these programs are challenged by wide variability in program type and the degrees offered, characteristics of the institutional setting, and limited institutional resources. Furthermore, there is a lack of clarity about what bounds early care and education and differing opinions about best practices. Standards, regulations, and teacher certification criteria in early childhood education are varied and dynamic across states. Little is known about the effectiveness of early childhood teacher preparation. This dissertation research examined differences in faculty beliefs compared across factors including types of higher education organizations—as defined by Birnbaum’s (1988) model of administrative practice, the Carnegie classification of colleges and universities, and whether their early childhood programs lead to teacher certification. A national survey of 151 early childhood teacher educators, from 125 colleges and universities, in 35 states was conducted to assess beliefs about developmentally appropriate practice (DAP)—the industry standard and a key distinguishing feature of high-quality early education. The Teacher Beliefs Scale (Charlesworth et al., 1990, 1993) was selected to assess the degree to which teacher beliefs align with appropriate practices. This study revealed that faculty beliefs were predicted by organizational types of colleges and universities (collegial, bureaucratic, political, anarchical, and cybernetic) related to their governance structure and organizational coupling relationships. Findings suggested that faculty teaching in institutions, which they perceived to be of the anarchical type, were more likely to have DAP beliefs. Also, significant differences in faculty beliefs were found between two-year colleges and four-year institutions. Assuming that faculty beliefs are reflected in the curriculum and pedagogy in teacher preparation, evidence about differences across program type and classification will be useful for college and university administrators, public policy makers, and professionals serving the early childhood system.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Literature review -- Research methods -- Results -- Conclusions and recommendations -- Appendix A. SSIRB notice of exempt determination -- Appendix B. Revised recruitment invitation letters