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An examination of teachers' perceptions: Ohio's early childhood teacher preparation programs

Dissertation
Author: Melissa N. Neal
Abstract:
Research has shown that early childhood teachers who have more education are able to provide young children with additional learning experiences in the preschool classroom. Proponents of early childhood teacher preparation programs support the notion that teachers with advanced degrees are more prepared than teachers with no degrees. The purpose of this study was to evaluate teachers' perceptions regarding their early childhood teacher preparation programs and to see if there are any relationships that exist between their perceptions and competency. The study also looked at how teachers' perceptions vary as a result of their preparation program. The participants were 86 early childhood teachers. Results indicated a discrepancy with the research literature stating that the more educational training one has teachers' competency increases. The research literature and directions for future research are discussed.

v Table of Contents

Section Page Preface…………...………………………………………………………………………...x Chapter 1: Introduction………………………………………………………….…….......1 Chapter 2: Literature Review……………………………………………………………...3 History of Early Childhood Teacher Preparation Programs……………….……...4 Issues in Early Childhood Teacher Preparation Programs………………………..5 Early Childhood Teacher Preparation Programs Comparison to Elementary Education Programs……………...…………………………...5 Types of Early Childhood Teacher Preparation Programs………………………..7 Quality in Early Childhood Teacher Preparation Programs…………………......12 Dimensions of Teacher Quality………………………………………….12 Teacher Training…………………………………………………………12 Course Content……………………………………………...……………13 General Education………………………………..………………13 Educational Foundations………………………..………………..14 Instructional Knowledge………………………..………………..14 Field Experience…………………………………………………14

vi Section Page Professional Organizations and Standards……………………………………….15 National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)…...15 National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)…18 Research Questions………………………………………………………………24 Chapter 3: Methods……………………………………………………………………....25 Participants……………………………………………………………………….25 Procedure……………………………………………………………………….. 26 Measures………………………………………………………..………………..27 Chapter 4: Results………………………………………………………………………..34 General Program Information……………………………………………………34 Teacher Preparation Curriculum…………………………………………………34 General Education Courses………………………………………………35 Core Courses……………………………………………………………..36 Instructional/Method Courses…………………………………................37 Practicum Hours………………………………………………………….37 Early Childhood Educator’s Perceptions of Teacher Preparation Programs Quality……………………………………………………………………………38 Level of Challenge…………………………..…………………………...38 Quality of Training…………………………………………………........38 Early Childhood Educator’s Self-Perception of Competency……..…………….40 Teacher Recommendations………………………………………………………41

vii Section Page Chapter 5: Discussion……………………………………………………………………49 Early Childhood Teacher Preparation Curriculum…………………………..…..49 Early Childhood Educator’s Perception of the Teacher Preparation Programs Quality……………………………………………………………………………50 Early Childhood Educator’s Self-Perceptions of Competency……….………….52 Teacher Recommendations………………………………………………………53 Limitations of the Study……………………………………………….…………56 Conclusion/Future Research……………………………………………………..57 Appendix A: Cover Letter for Directors…………………………………………..……..59 Appendix B: Cover Letter for Teachers……………………………………………..…...63 Appendix C: Consent Form………………………………………………………….…..66 Appendix D: Teacher Preparation Questionnaire…………………………………….….69 List of Illustrative Materials……………………………………………………………..84 Bibliography……………..……………………………………………………………....92

viii List of Illustrative Materials

Table Page Table 1: Courses offered by Teacher Preparation Programs………………………….....85 Table 2: Average number of general edu cation courses taken by degree program……...86 Table 3: Average number of core courses taken by degree program …………………...87

Table 4: Average number of instructiona l/method courses taken by degree program… 88

Table 5: Teachers’ of quality ratin gs of teacher training program……………………...89

Table 6: Correlations between number of courses taken and teach ers reported challenge level and quality of training……………………………………………………………...90

Table 7: Correlations between number and ty pe of practicum experiences and teachers reported challenge level and qua lity of training program……………………………..…91

ix Preface

“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will” Mohandas K. Ghandi

This journey that I have traveled has been a long and hard road for me. Now that this road in pursuing a doctoral degree is coming to an end, I can testify to the words that Ghandi speaks of in the quote above “the indomitable will”. I felt that for me it was that indomitable will that kept me going no matter what stood in my way. I was going to finish my degree! I promised my grandmother Lois A. Neal that I would accomplish this degree in her honor, and now I have reached the fulfillment of that promise. Granny, you are truly a great woman and it is a pleasure to follow in your shoes. I also think about the other people on this journey that I have traveled with that have helped me and kept my promise to my grandmother alive through shared wisdom. I feel that their inspiration has made me who I am today. It is like the African Proverb “It takes a village to raise a child”. On this journey, I felt that I was raised and will still continue to learn from these villages that are so important in my life. First and foremost, I would like to give glory to God. If it was not for him, I would not be here to accept this prestigious honor. He is the one that provided me with that indomitable will to get me up each and every day to continue to move along this journey. Thank you, Lord, for providing me the strength to be able to do my service in your honor.

x Secondly, I would like to thank my family especially my mother Naomi M. Neal, who has been through this journey with me. I want to thank you for being my passenger in this road of “Life”. I am truly grateful for everything that you have taught me over the years, which has helped me to become this woman that stands before you today. I am blessed to have you as my mother. I want to thank my best friend and sister, Kathy M. McBride. Thank you for being there for me and having truly open and honest conversations. I know what it means to have someone in your life who does not judge you for the things you do and you are that person for me. To the other members of my family (and you know who you all are), thank you for all of your love and support and keeping me going to achieve this dream of mine. You all played a crucial part in this voyage with me. Thirdly, I want to thank my URI family. I want to acknowledge and give an abundance of thanks to the Special Programs for Talent Development who believed in me when I was a teenager coming out of Central High School and stuck with me all these years. You really express what family is all about. Keep climbing to greater heights by helping each and every student that comes into your path. Do not let them down because I am evidence of what you have done. I would also like to thank the phenomenal women of the Pi Theta Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. It was all of you who became my sisters and believed and supported me through everything in my life. We have become a family that will never be broken by anyone. I also want to thank my sister circle-Dr. Vonda Jones-Hudson, Dr. Erica Conners, and Damita Davis. Ladies, thank you for all of the advice and being the great women that you are today. You are truly role models in my eyes.

xi Fourth, I want to thank my Syracuse fa mily. I would have to thank the faculty- Dr. Norma Burgess, Dr. Mellisa Clawson, Dr. Jaipaul Roopnaire and Dr. Alice Honig. I have learned so much from all of you and th ank you for sharing your knowledge with me. I want to thank my advisor, Dr. Robert Moreno who has been my advocate during this long voyage. You kept me going when I wanted to give up. I also want to thank my committee-Dr. Ambika Krishnakumar, Dr. Bruc e Carter, Dr. Rachel Razza, Dr. Eunjoo Jung, and Dr. Thompson for your help during this process and for having me thinking outside the box. I could not leave Syracuse without thanki ng three people who were my heart and soul while I was he re-Laurice (Compagno) Levine, Leslie Grinner and Alethea Pounds. Ladies, thank you for having my b ack during these hard times in Syracuse. Finally, I want to thank my Cincinna ti family. I would like to thank my colleagues-Daniele Bond, Ellen Lynch, and Gerry Weller who have supported me in many ways and have taken me under their wi ng. I also would like to thank Nicole (Sherman) Patterson, you are a great friend a nd I do not know where I would be without your friendship. You have shown me the ropes here in Cincinnati and I am grateful to you for that. It is our sisterhood that will bind us together forever. Lastly, I want to thank Ms. Debra Burton who has been a great ment or to me. God has truly blessed me by bringing you in my life. These are just some of the people who have been on this journey with me but there are so many more that showed their l ove and support. Family has a deep rooted meaning for me which I will neve r let go. I want to thank you all for being instrumental in my journey and be honored of OUR SUCCESS.

1

Introduction

Educators throughout history have di scussed the importance of teacher preparation programs and their relationshi p to quality progra mming for young children. Academic standards and accountab ility are typically discussed in the literature within the context of teacher preparation programs. The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE, 2002), is a profes sional organization that evaluates U.S. teacher preparation programs and provides specif ic standards that must be met in order to ensure that graduates possess the knowledge, skills and professional dispositions required of educators today. As the demands for high quality standards and accountability continue to impact the educational field, it is essential that colleges and universities provide the appropriate preparation needed to meet the established outcomes set by NCATE. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (N CLB) states the importance of having highly qualified teachers in every classr oom (Rice, 2003). The emphasis of this legislation is to have highly qualified teachers that will enhance student achievement. Many have wondered what was meant by the term “highly qualified teacher” and reviewed existing empirical evidence to iden tify specific characteristics that link teacher performance and student achievement (Rice, 2003). According to the NCLB act (2005), a "highly qualified teacher" (HQT) holds at least a bachelor's degree, has obtained full State certification, and has demonstrated knowle dge in the core academic subjects he or she teaches”.

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Head Start, an organization that supports the mandates of “No Child Left Behind; has suggested that to be a highly qualified educator, one must obtain a Bachelor’s degree and be licensed to teach by their state (NCLB, 2001). While many students are on the path to gaining their Bachelor’s degrees, there are other students currently obtaining their education following a multiple rung career ladder, for example, completing Child Development Associate (CDA) credentials followed by associates then baccalaureate degrees. Students are learning new skills to improve their teaching practices and obtaining the degree required by their programs. No matter where the individual is on the ladder, the student’s teacher preparation program should be grounded in research practices. Teacher preparation programs are based on the assumption that students will be prepared to address the academic, social, emotional, and intellectual well-being of young children whom they will teach. Indeed, researchers have looked at teacher education programs and the delivery methods utilized to ensure that graduates are able to provide a quality education for young children (Spodek & Saracho, 1990; Horm-Wingred, Hyson, & Karp, 2000; Bowman, et.al., 2001). These research studies consistently demonstrate that teacher preparation programs with specific structural systems provide students with the most appropriate training. These specific structural systems are the foundation of teacher preparation programs that include curriculum in general education courses, core courses, instructional/method courses, and practicum experiences. The keys to closing this gap between “highly qualified” and “non-qualified” are the skills, knowledge, and dispositions of the teacher (NCATE, 2002). Teachers need professional development opportunities provided through ongoing training, mentoring

3

and practice. Many teacher preparation progr ams are providing students with the keys that will help them to become a highly qualifi ed teacher. The focus of this study is to assess teachers’ perceptions of their early childhood teacher preparation programs and how it affects as current early childhood teachers.

Literature Review Over the past four decades, recogniti on of the importance of early childhood education programs in the United States has gr eatly increased. According to the recent census reports, eight million young children are in some type of early childhood educational program and of those 59% are in center-based care (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2000). The quality of the care matte rs. For example, recent reports have shown that high quality early childhood education prog rams are linked to ch ildren’s later school success and positive socio-emotional deve lopment (Bowman, Donovan, & Burns, 2001; Cost, Quality, and Outcomes Study Team, 1999). Thus, as a result, providing young children with quality care and education has b ecome a priority for many educators, policy makers, and the lay public. A growing body of research has shown that the level of teacher preparation is an important factor in producing quality early childhood programs that facilitate the development and educational learning of young children (Bowman, Donovan, & Burns, 2001; Fromberg, 1999; Honig, 1997; Katz & Goffin, 1990; Katz, 1994; Spodek & Saracho, 1990). However, the focus of much of this research has been on the influence of specialized child development preparation and its relationship to teachers’ interactions with children. Although these studies have been influential in providing some insight into the relationship between teacher prepar ation and their competency with children,

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there is little research examining teachers in the field and their insights into the adequacy of their preparation programs and how these perceptions mi ght influence practice. History of Early Childhood Teacher Preparation Programs In order to have a better understandi ng of the issues regarding contemporary teacher preparation programs, it is important to review some of the key historical events that have led us to the current state of teacher education. Early childhood teacher preparation has been in existence in the United States in some form since the 1600’s; however, cont emporary teacher preparation programs have their foundations in the progressive education movements of the 19 th and 20 th centuries. For example, in 1861 Johann Heinrich Pestal ozzi, a Swiss educational theorist, was a prominent advocate of early childhood teacher pr eparation. This led to his developing a teacher preparation school which became th e center of Pestalozzi-based education in America. Pestalozzi’s philosophy stressed ob ject teaching, activity, and the development of the senses for teachers who were being trai ned in these schools. Pestalozzi’s intent was to prove to teachers while they were in training that children’s first experiences with reading and other curriculum areas should begin at the primary levels. Although the training school focused on the development of the child, Pestalozzi ur ged his trainees in training to “read nothing a nd discover everything” through a “whole child” approach designed to train the head, h eart, and hand (Bowman, 1994). Freidrich Froebel further developed Pestalo zzi’s perspective in the late 1870’s. A student of Pestalozzi, Froebel, wanted Amer ican kindergartens to be programs where young children grew and developed naturally. This was a great departure from the didactic approaches of the traditional sc hool (Wolfe, 2000). As a result, Froebelian

5

teacher training was a mixture of learning th eoretical perspectives and having direct experience with children (Wolfe, 2000). Froebe l believed teachers should have a strong educational background, well-de veloped skills in working with children and a genuine love for children to be successful. These three basic tenets are still reflected in the early childhood teacher preparation programs of today. During this same period, Elizabeth P eabody (a follower of Froebel) was attempting to develop uniform guidelines fo r the preparation of kindergarten teachers (Hewes, 1990). A key aspect of the Froebeli an kindergarten training schools is that teachers-to-be are also learne rs in their training process not simply from studying books, but also from required interactions with ch ildren within the classroom setting (Hewes, 1990). Although the origins of ear ly childhood education differ significantly from the traditional elementary school programs, by the 1920’s, public school systems began to include kindergarten programs (Bowman, 1994). As a result of this inclusion, the early childhood training moved away from the Froe belian method to the Herbartian normal school approach. The Herbartian approach en couraged teachers to be more controlling and to “mold” their children’s learning. This approach was seen as a solution to the poor conduct experienced by many elementary schools. Issues in Early Childhood Teacher Preparation Programs Early childhood teacher preparation comparison to elementary education.

Due to their unique histories, early childhood education and elementary education teacher preparation programs have somewhat distinct goals (Goldstein, 1998) . The goals of early childhood education are based on a child-cen tered approach, whereas elementary

6

education goals are based on a teacher-directed approach. According to Goldstein (1998), early childhood and elementary education have different histories, norms, and traditions; different perspectives, expectations, and values; different standards, practices, funding sources, and school cultures. These differences have prompted further investigation into the reason why early childhood teacher preparation programs and elementary education need to be separate entities. For example, Goffin (1989) found areas of variation which included differences in flexibility related to the educational objectives and content of the curriculum, knowledge of child development applied to curriculum planning, and teacher priorities regarding teaching and learning goals. In early childhood education, curriculum is developed based on the interests and needs of the children: curriculum is integrated throughout all areas (i.e., art, dramatic play, etc.), education helps children in their life skills (i.e., home economics), and cooperative learning and inquiry among children is encouraged. In elementary classrooms, curriculum is usually prescribed and is segmented into areas (i.e., science, math, etc.), rote learning is encouraged, and the purpose of education is to learn skills such as mathematics, reading, and writing (File & Gullo, 2002; Goldstein, 1998). One of the most salient differences between early childhood and elementary teacher preparation programs is related to the theory upon which each is based. Early childhood teacher preparation programs in the United States are typically based upon constructivist theories of learning espoused by such researchers as Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky. Constructivism maintains that children develop their own knowledge and understanding of the world through active participation (physical and mental) within their environments (White & Coleman, 2000). Piaget’s cognitive developmental theory is

7

widely used as the foundational theory base in many early childhood teacher preparation programs today. These programs teach their pre- service teachers that they are facilitators of children’s learning rather than being th e source of all knowledge that must be transferred to children. Constr uctivist programs tend to take a “child-centered” approach with a focus on the social, emotional, physical, cognitive, and language domains in which children have a choice in what to learn th rough their direct exploration of materials (Morrison, 2000). Children are active learners and are provided a vari ety of activities within the classroom to help them develop their skills, knowledge, and dispositions. Elementary education programs have been dr awn from behavioral theory, which focuses on the development of sets of conventions , practices, organization structures, and instructional practices that are linked to managing children (Goldstein, 1998). In behaviorally based classrooms, children are vi ewed as somewhat passive beings, needing to be “taught” rather than as individu als who, through active engagement with their environments, construct their own view of the world. Elementary school teachers are trained to follow a prescrib ed curriculum, and may uti lize ability gr ouping based on academic achievement. Types of early childhood preparation programs.

There are three avenues one can take to become an early childhood educator: by earning a(n), baccalaureate degree (BA), associate degree (AA), or a Child Development Associate (CDA). In the 2000-2001 academic year, approxi mately 120,000 teachers held a Child Development Associate’s, 9,219 pre-service stud ents were in associate degree programs, and 6,697 pre-service students were in baccal aureate degree programs (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2000; Council for Professional Reco gnition, 2003). The national trend is to

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improve teacher qualifications. Programs such as Head Start are requiring that every teacher have at least an associate degree by October 1, 2011; and the new goal of 50% of Head Start teachers hold at least a baccalaureate degree by September 30, 2013 (ECLKC, 2009). The baccalaureate degree program is the conventional method of preparing pre- service students to work with young children. The early childhood education baccalaureate program of study is approximately 120-180 credit hours of coursework on a quarter system or approximately 90 credits hours of coursework on a semester system. The 180 credit hours are divided as follows: 84 credit hours are general education courses and 96 credit hours are early childhood education courses. The content of the baccalaureate degree programs is designed to train students who want to be early childhood teachers (birth through grade three). During the first two years of the program, students take general education courses in writing, history, sciences, etc. In the second year, educational foundational courses are added. These courses include child development courses, history of early childhood education, and working with children with disabilities. After the second year, students must typically apply for admission to early childhood education to continue in the program of study. Once students are accepted into the program, in the third and fourth year, instructional knowledge courses are offered with practicum experiences which include curriculum planning, assessment and evaluation, and teaching of specific subject matter, such as math (Spodek & Saracho, 1990). Baccalaureate degree programs follow the standards of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the National Council for

9

Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and typically provide a state licensure once students leave these programs (NAEYC, 1996). According to ETS (2010), the PRAXIS tests measures teacher candidates’ knowledge and skills. The tests are used for licensing and certification processes required by many states and professional licensing organizations. Before students can apply for their license, they must have passed the PRAXIS II or similar exam and have received a favorable score. The PRAXIS II-Subject Assessment measures the subject specific content knowledge (i.e., early childhood education), as well as the general and subject specific teacher skills (i.e., math, science, and social studies) that are needed for beginning teachers (ETS, 2010) (See Table 1). BA candidates are also assessed on the five NAEYC standards, where they must show competence before they graduate from the baccalaureate degree program. The standards include the following: Standard I: Child Development and Learning, Standard II: Building Family and Community Relationships, Standard III: Observing, Documenting and Assessing to Support Young Children and Families, Standard IV: Teaching and Learning, and Standard V: Becoming a Professional. Teachers must also apply for their re-certification license after a specific period of time (usually five years) providing documentation that they have participated in some form of continuing education. Some states have processes where teacher who have master’s degrees may waive the reapplication process. According to Spodek and Saracho (1990), most students who receive a baccalaureate degree teach in the public school system where compensation rates are higher (See Table 1).

10

Earning an associate degree (AA) in early childhood education is another avenue for receiving the appropriate credentials to work with young children. Some students use the associate degree programs as a stepping-stone into the baccalaureate teacher preparation programs. Associate degree programs are usually located in open-access colleges where any student who has a high school diploma or who has received the Graduate Equivalency Diploma (GED) can take AA courses. According to Spodek & Saracho (1990), students who are working on early childhood associate degrees are typically preparing for immediate entry into the field or are already working as lead teachers or assistant teachers. The goal of the program is to enhance knowledge, skills, and dispositions in early childhood education. The early childhood education associate program of study is approximately 90-93 credit hours of coursework; 33 hours being general education courses and 60 credit hours being early childhood education courses. Some associate degree programs follow standards set forth by NAEYC. Currently, only Ohio issues a state license for teachers with associate degrees. Also, the University of Cincinnati and The Ohio State University are the first institutions with two-year degree programs to be reviewed by NCATE. Once students have completed the two-year program and have applied for their license, the program makes recommendations to the state department of education with documentation that students have completed their program requirements. Early childhood associate degree program students do not have to take the PRAXIS II required of baccalaureate students. Starting September 1, 2010, the Ohio Department of Education is requiring students to take the PRAXIS II and receive a score of 550 or higher to receive the pre-K license (ODE, 2010). The PRAXIS II is a written test that examines pre-service teacher’s

11

knowledge about general education content (i.e., math, science, and social studies) and a specialized content area (i.e., early childhood education) (See Table 1). The Child Development Associate (CDA) is often the first avenue into the field of early childhood teacher education. The CDA was initiated in 1971 due to the rapid growth of early childhood education programs, such as Head Start, in the United States (Powell & Dunn, 1990). The CDA training program, which runs nine months to a year, focuses on developing a teacher’s performance in the classroom as well as on establishing positive relationships with families. CDA candidates are trained using a two-tier system and are assessed on six competency goals, which include establishing and maintaining a safe healthy learning environment, advancing physical and intellectual competence, supporting social and emotional development and provide positive guidance, establishing positive and productive relationship with families, ensuring a well-run, purposeful program responsive to participant needs, and maintaining a commitment to professionalism. The first tier of training requires the candidate to take part in 120 hours of formal coursework, workshops, and in-service training within five years of receiving their credential. The second tier of training requires that the candidate complete 480 hours of classroom experience with young children over the next three-year period before applying for a CDA credential. In the evaluation process, the candidate appoints an advisor (an early childhood professional) to review all materials that have been collected. These materials include classroom observations from a supervisor, family questionnaires of children in the classroom, and a portfolio that is developed by the candidate demonstrating that he/she has completed the six competency goals. After all materials are collected, the

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CDA candidate is evaluated by his/her advisor. The initial CDA certification is awarded for a three-year period with subsequent renewa ls being awarded for fi ve years. Table 1 presents a comparison of typical schedule course completion in CDA, associate and baccalaureate programs. Quality in Early Childhood Teacher Preparation Programs Due to increasing concern regardi ng quality, early childhood preparation programs are beginning to require that te achers become knowledg eable in the early childhood content areas as well as having a firm understanding of how to interact effectively with a diverse population of children (Wise & Leibbrand, 2001). Early childhood content is defined as the knowle dge of traditional disciplines and the knowledge of child development (NAEYC, 1996). Dimensions of teacher quality.

Teacher quality is a complex concept, and there is little consensus on what it is or how to measure it (Long & Riegle, 2002). However, the most important area identified with the concept of quality is teacher training.

Teacher training. Research findings have led mo st in the discipline of early childhood education to accept that what teachers know and do for young children are crucial to their overall development (B owman, et al., 2001; Fromberg, 1999; Honig, 1997; Katz & Goffin, 1990; Katz, 1994; Spodek & Saracho, 1990; Whitebook, 2003). According to Honig (1997), powerful and positive effects on children’s learning can be gained as a result of quality training of early childhood educators. Training in child development must provide the foundati on for all early chil dhood educators. Honig believes that future early childhood programs will require more coursework such as prosocial development and parenting course s in order to enhan ce their skills and

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knowledge about children and working with familie s. Lastly, Honig states that the public needs to be enthusiastic and supportive of teach er training so that, in turn, early childhood educators ensures optimal development a nd education of all young children (Honig, 1997). There are many ways of measuring the concept of quality, therefore making it difficult to define (Long & Riegle, 2002). The major form of evaluation of teacher training is the PRAXIS II and PRAXIS III. The PRAXIS II and PRAXIS III helps demonstrate whether the candidate understand s course content from general education and early childhood education courses and is able to apply this information. Course content. Another strategy for characteriz ing teacher qualifications is the examination of the pre-service program of study. Typically, early childhood teacher preparation programs contain four specific t eacher training areas. These areas include general education, educationa l foundations, instruc tional knowledge, and field experience (Spodek & Saracho, 1990).

General education . General education courses ar e common in higher education. About two-thirds to three-fourths of teacher education programs have a general education component (Edmunson, 1990). The general educ ation component of teacher education programs is heavily concentrated in the fi rst two years of any program. Pre-service teachers use this time to become knowledgeab le in a variety of areas such as history, science, and social sciences. The general public and professional e ducators believe that teachers of young children must be broadly a nd liberally educated people; therefore, general education courses are the core of most teacher preparation programs (ACEI, 1997; Kennedy, 1991; Spodek & Sarac ho, 1982; Spodek & Saracho, 1990).

Full document contains 114 pages
Abstract: Research has shown that early childhood teachers who have more education are able to provide young children with additional learning experiences in the preschool classroom. Proponents of early childhood teacher preparation programs support the notion that teachers with advanced degrees are more prepared than teachers with no degrees. The purpose of this study was to evaluate teachers' perceptions regarding their early childhood teacher preparation programs and to see if there are any relationships that exist between their perceptions and competency. The study also looked at how teachers' perceptions vary as a result of their preparation program. The participants were 86 early childhood teachers. Results indicated a discrepancy with the research literature stating that the more educational training one has teachers' competency increases. The research literature and directions for future research are discussed.