Professional development and early childhood teachers’ performance: a view through an undergraduate foundation course
Keywords:early childhood teacher professional development, transformative learning, foundation course, Caribbean Civilisation
AbstractThis qualitative case study investigated how one university foundation course “Caribbean Civilisation” impacted the professional development of in-service Early Childhood (EC) student teachers. It sought to extend our understanding of Professional Development issues which affect the learning of EC student teachers. Twelve Bachelor of Education Early Childhood Care and Education (BEd ECCE) student teachers from Trinidad were studied at The University of the West Indies (The UWI) St. Augustine. A 2-phased data collection procedure was adopted in which at the end of the course, participants responded to a questionnaire giving their views about course expectations, challenges and benefits to their professional development. The grades of the participants were also compared with those of other students in their cohort to determine participants’ mean scores in relation to the rest of the class. In Phase-2 a focus group interview was conducted with a representative sample – 5 participants to determine the achievement of learning outcomes and issues which impacted their professional development. Constructivism and the Transformative learning theory (Mezirow, 1994) formed the theoretical framework for analysis. Following the procedures of Structural Coding (MacQueen, McLellan-Lemal, Bartholow, & Milstein, 2008) and thematic analysis (Smith & Osborne, 2008) data were analysed. Three themes emerged to represent issues related to the professional development experience. They were: Issues of Course Content and Pedagogy, Student Empowerment, and Enablers and Barriers to Learning. A positive influence on Early Childhood (EC) teachers’ professional development occurred in a context of teaching which supported student learning. This study though not generalizable adds to the thin research currently available in early childhood teacher professional development in the Caribbean.