Date of this Version
Eum, J. (2016). Professional Learning Communities for Early Childhood Science Education. PhD diss, University of Nebraska
This study explored the content, processes, and dynamics of Professional Learning Community (PLC) sessions. This study also investigated changes in preschool teachers’ attitudes and beliefs toward science teaching after they participated in two different forms of PLCs including workshop and face-to-face PLC as well as workshop and online PLC. Multiple sources of data were collected for this study including participant artifacts and facilitator field notes during the PLC sessions.
The participants in this study were eight teachers from NAEYC-accredited child care centers serving 3- to 5-year-old children in an urban Midwest city. All teachers participated in a workshop entitled, “Ramps and Pathways.” Following the workshop, the first group engaged in face-to-face PLC sessions and the other group engaged in online PLC sessions. Qualitative data were collected through audio recordings, online archives, and open-ended surveys. The teachers’ dialogue during the face-to-face PLC sessions was audiotaped, transcribed, and analyzed for emerging themes. Online archives during the online PLC sessions were collected and analyzed for emerging themes. Four main themes and 13 subthemes emanated from the face-to-face sessions, and 3 main themes and 7 subthemes emanated from the online sessions. During the face-to-face sessions, the teachers worked collaboratively by sharing their practices, supporting each other, and planning a lesson together. They also engaged in inquiry and reflection about their science teaching and child learning in a positive climate. During the online sessions, the teachers shared their thoughts and documentation and revisited their
science teaching and child learning. Five themes and 15 subthemes emanated from the open- ended survey responses of face-to-face group teachers, and 3 themes and 7 subthemes emanated from the open-ended survey responses of online group teachers. Quantitative data collected in this study showed changes in teachers’ attitudes and beliefs toward science teaching. Face-to-face group teachers’ comfort with planning and doing different science activities increased significantly after the workshop and after the combination of workshop and face-to-face PLC.
This study contributes to the research about various forms of professional development and their process and outcome in early childhood science education and informs early childhood professional communities of creative ways to improve science teaching and learning.
Advisor: Soo-Young Hong