Date of Award

12-2010

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Advisor

Stegelin, Dolores

Committee Member

Eckhoff , Angela

Committee Member

Grimes , Mary

Committee Member

Rosenblith , Suzanne

Abstract

The purpose of this dissertation is to contribute to the existing literature focused on quality early care and education (ECE). Specifically, this study examines two main research questions: (1) How do teachers in South Carolina licensed, privately-funded ECE programs select professional development opportunities and (2) How does participating in professional development inform their practices? These questions are particularly significant in light of the minimal requirements for teachers to enter the ECE field in South Carolina. Due to the low entry requirements for ECE teachers, professional development can play a key role in transforming minimally qualified individuals into teachers who care for and educate the state's youngest children for future success.
The review of research literature found few studies focused squarely on privately-funded ECE settings and even fewer studies incorporating the voices of ECE teachers regarding professional development. This study uses a multi-case methodology involving four privately-funded ECE centers in South Carolina. Through single- and cross-case analyses, assertions emerge suggesting that teachers are most likely to select training based on content and that delivery approaches are most likely to determine whether the professional development will inform their teaching practices. This study centers teacher voices within the research arena, a sphere of influence where they are not typically found, but where they are needed to aid ECE advocates and policy makers to better understand the complexities surrounding required professional development within ECE settings in South Carolina.

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