Education and Human Sciences, College of (CEHS)


Date of this Version



Davis, D. L. (2014). Intervention Fidelity, Teacher perceptions and Child Outcomes of a Literacy Curriculum in a Head Start Program: A Mixed methods Study. Unpublished doctoral thesis. University of Nebraska – Lincoln.


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: Interdepartmental Area of Human Sciences (Child, Youth, & Family Studies), Under the Supervision of Professor Helen H. Raikes. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2014

Copyright (c) 2014 Dawn L. Davis


The success of early childhood interventions have been influenced by the degree to which they were implemented with fidelity (e.g., Davidson, Fields & Yang, 2009; Dusenbury, Brannigan, Falco, & Hansen, 2003; Elliot & Mihalic, 2004), meaning “the degree to which teachers and other program providers implement programs as intended by the program developers” (Mellard & Johnson, 2008, p. 240). This study examines relations among implementation fidelity, teacher characteristics, their perceptions, and child literacy outcomes within a preschool literacy intervention using a mixed methods design.

This study examines child literacy outcome data from 247 preschool children and fidelity, perceptions and demographic characteristics from 11 lead preschool classroom teachers. Teachers implemented a literacy curriculum in their classrooms and were observed in fall and spring with measures of classroom quality measures and fidelity. Six teachers participated in a semi-structured interview in the spring. Children were assessed in fall and spring using three literacy assessments targeting expressive vocabulary, uppercase letter identification and early literacy skills.

Findings from the quantitative data revealed no relationship between fidelity and child literacy outcomes. Qualitative data from the teacher interviews indicated teachers felt their implementation was supported by the use of coaching, material support, positive experiences with child engagement and growth and positive parent feedback. Teachers felt implementation barriers were time, inappropriateness of some activities, negative experiences with the curriculum and incongruence between their own beliefs about how children learn best and the curriculum. When the data were mixed, both teachers with high fidelity and high child outcomes and teachers with low fidelity and low child outcomes were most positive about the curriculum. Teachers with high fidelity but low child outcomes reported the most negative perceptions of the curriculum.

The current study provides insights into teacher perceptions of a curriculum, how those perceptions may influence implementation as well as child outcomes and offers some implications to early childhood programs and implementation science.

Adviser: Helen H. Raikes