A Study of Early Childhood Education Teachers’ Beliefs and Practices About Early Literacy Learning

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Mayo, Jennifer
top-down; bottom-up; interactionists; literacy acquisition; Education; Pre-Elementary, Early Childhood, Kindergarten Teacher Education; Teacher Education and Professional Development
thesis / dissertation description
This study investigated differences in literacy beliefs and related instructional practices for 427 West Virginia K-2 early childhood teachers to determine how early literacy instruction is best facilitated for young children and whether their beliefs clustered into identifiable literacy models. Respondents completed the Teachers‘ Beliefs about Literacy Questionnaire (TBALQ) which measured the level of belief and degree of influence on the implementation of 24 statements coded as: top-down (child-centered); bottom-up (teacher-directed); or interactive (balanced) instructional practices.Respondents also self-rated their general position on a scale from 1 to 7 regarding whether children‘s literacy acquisition should be grounded in immersion (whole language) or teacher directed (skills-based) activities. Additionally, respondents self-rated the perceived level of external constraints on their autonomy to use particular literacy models. Data were further distinguished by classroom experience and grade levels of participants.Results showed that early education practitioners did not necessarily cluster into these dichotomies. They chose a ―middle or interactive position where they were able to recognize and perceive practices that were appropriate to instructional circumstances and the needs of the children. Further, these results were not distinguished by classroom teaching experience or grade levels of the teachers.Self-report, qualitative data confirmed that a majority of respondents perceive a balance of moderate immersion and directed activities and that there are various kinds of external constraints on their autonomy to choose preferred practices. The conclusion s are that early childhood teachers have greater agreement with beliefs that are interactive and that their instructional practices are influenced accordingly.