In this article, we report a research project on web-based case instruction that was developed and implemented to allow prospective early childhood teachers to be exposed to various dilemmas faced by practicing teachers. The goal of this project was to design an instructional tool and method that could help prospective teachers expand their notion of classroom management beyond a set of techniques. We collected 23 prospective teachers’ pre and postessays before and after the 3-week implementation of the web-based case instruction, along with surveys and a focus group interview data. The initial data analysis results indicated that this instructional method was effective for (a) promoting prospective teachers’ awareness of multiple perspectives, (b) encouraging them to explore diverse ways of problem solving, and (c) articulating their justification based on a sense of moral responsibility and affective engagement. We conclude with implications for future research and early childhood teacher education.
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Although we call those 23 students the “participant students” in this article, thereby allowing us to use their work as our research data, all 30 students participated in the web-based case learning as part of the course activities. We indicated in the consent letter, approved by our campus IRB, that if a student decided to participate in this study, it would not affect her grade in this class. To ensure this and the participants’ honest opinions, the survey was conducted anonymously. The focus group interview was conducted by Ikseon, who was not the instructor of this course, and the interview was transcribed after the grades were turned in.
The entire course, except for the online self-study session, was face-to-face and met twice a week for 1 h and 15 min per class. The online self-study session was arranged separately because both of us had to attend a conference and could not be present in class.
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This project was supported by a Learning Technologies Grant offered by the Office of Instructional Support and Development at The University of Georgia.
The Pre and Postessay Case
Note: This case was posed by a local school teacher.
Cynthia Williams is a 3rd-grade teacher who has taught for 4 years. She has a strong teaching philosophy emphasizing collaboration and team work. Last year, however, one of her students, Ben, challenged her philosophy. “Ben was sneaky. He tried to make other students disgusted with him as much as he could. He seemed to feed off of other people’s anger.” Cynthia talked privately to his classmates to encourage them to work with Ben, and she also talked with Ben alone. In these conversations, Ben expressed that he felt like he did not fit in with other students. Cynthia learned that at home Ben talked mainly with people who were older because he did not have siblings. He also had little opportunity to interact with children his own age outside of the classroom and therefore felt much more comfortable working on his own than with other students. Wondering whether Ben was gifted, Cynthia referred him to gifted education for testing. These tests, however, indicated that Ben was right on the borderline, which meant he might receive gifted education in several years but not at the moment. Cynthia firmly believed that “students should learn to work with others because that’s what people should be able to do in their lives beyond school,” so at times she “forced Ben to be in group work situations but never felt these attempts were successful. After being in the class only for half of the year, Ben moved to an alternative school because his mother thought Ben would do better in school with a small group of students.” Looking back on this experience, Cynthia wondered “whether some children are not able to work with others,” and whether she “should have adjusted her philosophy to give more individual work to a student like Ben.”
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Lee, K., Choi, I. Learning Classroom Management Through Web-Based Case Instruction: Implications for Early Childhood Teacher Education. Early Childhood Educ J 35, 495–503 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-008-0250-7
- Case methods
- Classroom management
- Early childhood teacher education
- Web-based Instruction
- Technology integration