Educators' beliefs about kindergarten practices

Mayers, Gloysis
Major Professor
Joan Herwig
Sam Clark
Committee Member
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Human Development and Family Studies

Educators' beliefs about kindergarten practices were investigated in this study. Subjects were 56 kindergarten teachers, 51 first-grade teachers and 47 principals from Iowa public school districts offering full-day every day kindergarten programs and 46 kindergarten teachers, 43 first-grade teachers and 45 principals from schools offering half-day every day programs. A majority of the kindergarten teachers have 11+ years of kindergarten teaching experience and an elementary (K-6) teaching certification. The Teacher Information Survey and the Teacher Questionnaire addressing teachers' beliefs and instructional classroom practices were completed. Results from ANOVA and the Duncan multiple range test revealed that kindergarten teachers first-grade teachers and elementary school principals showed similar belief patterns. However, kindergarten teachers tended to place more importance on providing opportunities for children to learn through active exploration, experimentation, and interactive processes and with a wider variety of activities and materials. In contrast, first-grade teachers tended to believe that it was more desirable to offer academic instruction, e.g., reading and alphabet. There were very few differences between the beliefs and practices of educators from half-day every day as compared to those from full-day every day kindergarten programs. There also were very few differences based on kindergarten teachers' years of kindergarten teaching experience and their beliefs and reported classroom practices;T-test analyses of actual and desired classroom practices of kindergarten teachers revealed highly significant differences, with teachers desiring more frequent involvement in child-centered autonomy-oriented activities, and more opportunities for creative exploration by the children. The findings are discussed in relation to the developmentally appropriate practices advocated by various professional groups.