Education and Human Sciences, College of (CEHS)


Date of this Version



A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Human Sciences, Under the Supervision of Professor Carolyn Pope Edwards. Lincoln, Nebraska: August, 2007

Copyright (c) 2007 Wen Zhao


The goal of this study is to investigate how a group of twenty teachers who work in an intervention program for institutionalized children in the Guangzhou Children Welfare Institution adapt Western educational concepts and approaches to transform their Chinese teaching practice. The intervention curriculum integrates the Italian Reggio Emilia approach and the American approach to teacher education with the practice that underlies Chinese national guidelines for early childhood education. This mixed methods design uses both qualitative and quantitative data to explore the adaptation process in order to study how their teaching beliefs and perceptions of teaching and learning are transformed after one year working in the intervention program. This study also examines how the teacher preparation and professional development impact the adaptation and transformation process. The qualitative data involves pre- and post-measures of selfdrawings of the teachers, interviews at the sixth month mark of working in the program, and field notes from different timeframes. The quantitative data includes pre- and postmeasures of Teacher Efficacy, Tolerance of Ambiguity, and Constructivist Beliefs. The findings indicate that all the teachers described changes in their communication skills, relationships with children and others, and confidence in themselves as well as their reflection competence. However, the findings also reveal differences between teachers hired from inside the institution and those hired from outside the institution in terms of the levels of changes in Teacher Efficacy, Tolerance of Ambiguity, and Constructivist Beliefs. Finally, the findings of this study suggest implications for developing an effective intervention program for children at high risk in an institutional setting. Children at high risk may benefit greatly both emotionally and cognitively from a relationship-based progressive intervention curriculum.

Adviser: Carolyn Pope Edwards