Source: Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, 36:211–231, 2015
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This study aimed to explore the characteristics of students at different levels of early childhood professional preparation.
The participants were 280 early childhood education students. They enrolled to four different levels of professional preparation: 1) students working toward a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential; 2) students working on an associate’s degree in early childhood; 3) students working on a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education; and 4) graduates with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education.
The participants completed paper-and-pencil questionnaires of their knowledge and beliefs in relation to early childhood development and education.
The results show differences in knowledge across the differentiated levels of early childhood professional preparation. The authors argue that such results are relevant to teacher preparation programs and provide further support for policies within early childhood programs requiring continued education for early childhood teachers.
The authors found that students with higher levels of formal education in the area of early childhood education report enhanced knowledge of child development, more developmentally appropriate beliefs, and higher self-esteem.
Furthermore, it was found that students with higher levels of formal education had more realistic expectations of children, and increased empathy for children.
The authors conclude that the findings help to support policy initiatives such as the 2007 reauthorization of Head Start mandate requiring increased education levels for staff.