Preparing the Next Generation of Early Childhood Teachers: The Emerging Role of Interprofessional Education and Collaboration in Teacher Education

Feb. 03, 2013

Source: Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, 34(1), p. 23–35, 2013.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This article reports on an interprofessional pilot project.
This pilot study engaged 2nd-year, preservice, graduate early childhood education and social work students in an interprofessional training and collaborative activity as part of their graduate coursework.
This pilot study aimed to explore the following question:
What do preservice graduate early childhood education students and social work students perceive to be some of the benefits and challenges to interprofessional education and collaboration?

Following this training and activity, the early childhood education graduate students and the social work graduate students were invited to participate in uni-professional focus groups as a way to explore their experiences.

This pilot study consisted of two discipline-specific focus groups in April 2012.
Group A consisted of 13 master’s level early childhood education students.
These students were in the final semester of a 2-year multicertification program at University in the Northeast.
Group B consisted of 16 master’s social work students.
These students were in the final semester of a 2-year MSW program.


This study suggests that graduate early childhood education and social work students recognize the benefits of preservice interprofessional education, but the experience of working across disciplines can be very challenging.
The challenges include a lack of clarity around professional roles and responsibilities, differences in understandings of children’s behavior, and a perception that there will be little opportunity for interdisciplinary collaboration in early childhood settings.

Despite these challenges, participants expressed how important it was for them to experience firsthand some of the potential benefits and challenges to interdisciplinary collaboration as preservice students.
This study suggests that preservice graduate early childhood teachers are very interested in having more informal interprofessional education opportunities during their university coursework.

Furthermore, interdisciplinary collaboration implies working in teams.
Without the support of an effective interdisciplinary team, some early childhood teachers may become so overwhelmed that they leave their jobs or even the early childhood teaching profession altogether.

This study suggests that opportunities for interprofessional education and interprofessional collaboration as part of early childhood teacher education programs play an important role in preparing the next generation of early childhood teachers to work more effectively across disciplines to support optimal child outcomes.

Updated: Aug. 24, 2014