Date of Award

12-2016

Document Type

Project

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Child Development

Department

Psychology

First Reader/Committee Chair

Wilcox-Herzog, Amanda

Abstract

Research supports the knowledge that there exist many models on and definitions of school readiness within early education. Additionally, research shows that utilizing developmentally appropriate practices (DAP) produces positive short and long term results for students; indicating the effectiveness and necessity for DAP in the classroom. The study sought to inform teachers via presentation on the subjects of school readiness and DAP; as well as gain insight on the barriers teachers face in utilizing their school readiness and DAP knowledge base in the classroom. To accomplish this, the study used a pre-survey, presentation with discussion, and a post-survey to collect information on teachers’ knowledge and beliefs, teachers’ levels of professionalism and autonomy, as well as gain insight on how useful the presentation was for teachers. Results show teachers gained information from the presentation but may be unable to use this information in the public setting. These results are based on direct feedback from teachers, as well as the effect size of teacher’s responses on ranking school readiness characteristics and DAP/DIP items before and after the presentation. Regarding what teachers know about these topics, results indicate variance on teachers’ ideas on school readiness. Responses were sorted into three themes; specific skills, different areas of development, and the importance of early experiences. Teachers also had, on average, an appropriate ranking of DAP/DIP teaching practices in the classroom, with scores that grew stronger for some teaching practices after the presentation. Additionally, multiple-choice questions on teacher autonomy and teacher professionalism show that most teachers feel they are treated as professionals and autonomous in their positions. However, despite these results, a discussion on barriers of implementing an appropriate model of school readiness as well as DAP portrayed a much different scenario with teachers in the public setting. In fact, this study found that teachers in the public setting are very much limited by administrators in their ability to utilize ideas, curriculum, and assessments they view as appropriate in the classroom. As such, future research should seek to reach the school administrators to gain insight on the basis of their decisions, as well as educate them on the research supporting successful learning in the early education classroom.