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The inter-relationship of early childhood educators' curriculum beliefs,practices, and professional identity.

Title:

The inter-relationship of early childhood educators' curriculum beliefs,practices, and professional identity.

Vukelich, Goranka (2012) The inter-relationship of early childhood educators' curriculum beliefs,practices, and professional identity. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

ABSTRACT
The inter-relationship of early childhood educators’ curriculum beliefs, practices and professional identity
Goranka Vukelich, Ph.D.
Concordia University, 2012

Research Problem: The purpose of this study was to investigate the inter-relationship of early childhood educators’ curriculum beliefs, practices and professional identity.
Research questions:
1. What are the relationships among curriculum practices, beliefs about curriculum, and professional identities in qualified early childhood educators?
2. What are educators’ curriculum practices?
3. What are educators’ beliefs about curriculum?
4. How do educators describe their professional identities?
5. What are the relations among educational and professional backgrounds of educators’ and their self-reported beliefs about curriculum, their practices of curriculum, and their descriptions of professional identity?

Literature Review: The purpose of the literature review was to examine what is known about early childhood curriculum, early childhood curriculum practices, educators’ beliefs about curriculum, and professional identity. The field of early childhood education endorses constructivist-inspired curriculum practices. However, the implementation of these practices seems to be complicated by educators’ personal experiences and beliefs about curriculum, and the views they hold of themselves as professionals.

Methodology: This study utilized a mixed method research design that combined case study and observational assessment. Five educators who were qualified to work in licensed child-care centres with preschool aged children in Southwestern Ontario participated in this study. Data were gathered through the use of CLASS observation assessment tool (direct observation and assessment of educator curriculum practices), classroom photographs and collections of curriculum documents, as well as educator interviews. These data were triangulated and analyzed for emerging themes within each case and across all cases.

Results and Conclusions: This study uncovered a number of complex relationships including that educators hold a strong desire to contribute to children’s learning and to be valued for that contribution; that educators hold strong constructivist-inspired beliefs about curriculum while at the same time they engaged in a number of instructivist-inspired curriculum practices in supporting children’s learning; that educators’ professional identity appears to be vulnerable to the influences of others; and that educators’ professional identity appears to be a more persuasive guide to curriculum practices than educators’ beliefs about curriculum.

The implication of this study is that if educators are to strengthen their implementation of constructivist-inspired curriculum practices they will require the development of an enhanced view of self as professional through an improved understanding of the theories and principles that define a constructivist curriculum framework; an examination of personal beliefs about children, learning, and education; and by becoming more comfortable with uncertainty. In addition, those involved in the professional education of educators must re-conceptualize their approach to engaging educators in learning. They should resist the teaching of curriculum techniques without the examination of the principles that inspire those techniques and the personal beliefs that may interface with the implementation of those techniques; examine resources for the messages they may portray about images of educators, children, and learning; and engage educators to develop their own curriculum techniques by combining knowledge of learning theories with unique characteristics of programs and the children within those programs.

The limitations of this study include a limited sample size, a limited range of participants, and a limited geographical location.

Future research could replicate this investigation in other geographical locations where educators might have attended different college programs; with educators who have greater diversity in years at which they graduated (new graduates, educators who graduated ten years ago, educators who graduated twenty years ago); and with educators who work with other age groups of children (infants, toddlers, school age children). Future research could also examine the influence of centre supervisors and other colleagues’ practices and beliefs about curriculum on educators’ practices and the formation of professional identity within a context of child-care centre culture and child-care center systems

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Education
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Vukelich, Goranka
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:Special Individualized Program
Date:19 December 2012
Thesis Supervisor(s):Jacobs, Ellen
ID Code:977285
Deposited By: GORANKA VUKELICH
Deposited On:18 Jun 2013 11:51
Last Modified:22 May 2018 15:10
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