Instruction Via Web-Based Modules in Early Childhood Personnel Preparation: A Mixed-Methods Study of Effectiveness and Learner Perspectives
Effective personnel preparation is critical to the development of a high quality early childhood workforce that provides optimal care and education for young children. This mixed-methods study examined the effectiveness of, and learner perspectives on, instruction via web-based modules within face-to-face early childhood personnel preparation courses. The specific modules selected were designed around an evidence-based decision-making framework and focused on evidence-based practices: embedded interventions, assistive technology, and tiered instruction. Nineteen undergraduate students studying early childhood participated in pre- and post-instruction surveys and post-instruction focus groups. Participants’ written module activities provided additional sources of data. Statistical analyses of quantitative survey data and thematic analyses of qualitative survey data and focus groups were conducted. Results found the web-based modules to be effective, as indicated by learners’ knowledge and competence ratings, written explanations of the specific evidence-based practices, and completed assignments. Examination of learner perspectives indicated that learners perceived web-based modules to be effective over and above other instructional methods and preferred web-based modules to traditional instruction, at least to some degree. Learners found videos and realistic practice dilemmas to be the most useful module resources. They reported technology challenges and identified preferred supports, including more in-class discussion. Implications for personnel preparation and further research are discussed.
KeywordsTeacher education Instructional technology Professional development Early childhood education Inclusion
The authors wish to acknowledge Marna Winter for assistance with consent forms and focus groups, and Xueyan Yang for assistance with scoring written test of knowledge survey data and coding of focus group data.
- Barkley, E. F. (2010). Student engagement techniques: A handbook for college faculty. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
- Buysse, V., Epstein, D., Winton, P., & Rous, B. (2012). CONNECT Module 7: Tiered instruction [Web-based PD curriculum]. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, FPG Child Development Institute, CONNECT: The Center to Mobilize Early Childhood Knowledge (CONNECT).Google Scholar
- Buysse, V., Winton, P., Rous, B., Epstein, D. J., & Lim, C. (2012b). Evidence-based practice: Foundation for the CONNECT 5-Step Learning Cycle™ in professional development. Zero to Three, 32(4), 25–29.Google Scholar
- Cochran-Smith, M., & Zeichner, K. M. (Eds.). (2005). Studying teacher education: The report of the AERA panel on research and teacher education. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2011). Research methods in education (7th ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
- CONNECT. (2013). CONNECT: The center to mobilize early childhood knowledge annual grant performance report. Chapel Hill, NC: Author.Google Scholar
- Creswell, J. W. (2002). Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.Google Scholar
- Darling-Hammond, L., Wei, R. C., Andree, A., Richardson, N., & Orphanos, S. (2009). Professional learning in the learning profession: A status report on teacher development in the United States and abroad. Dallas, TX: National Staff Development Council.Google Scholar
- Grossman, P. (2005). Pedagogical approaches in teacher education. In M. Cochran-Smith & K. M. Zeichner (Eds.), Studying teacher education: The report of the AERA panel on research and teacher education (pp. 425–476). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Herrington, J., Oliver, R., & Reeves, T. C. (2003). Patterns of engagement in authentic online learning environments. Australian Journal of Educational Technology, 19, 59–71.Google Scholar
- Kennedy, G. E., Judd, T. S., Churchward, A., Gray, K., & Krause, K.-L. (2008). First year students’ experiences with technology: Are they really digital natives? Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 24, 108–122.Google Scholar
- Maxwell, K., Lim, C.-I., & Early, D. M. (2006). Early childhood teacher preparation programs in the United States: National report. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute.Google Scholar
- Miles, M. B., & Huberman, A. M. (1994). Qualitative data analysis (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- Miller, P., Ostrosky, M., Laumann, B., Thorpe, E., Sanchez, S., & Fader-Dunne, L. (2003). Quality field experiences underlying performance mastery. In V. D. Stayton, P. S. Miller, & L. S. Dinnebeil (Eds.), Personnel preparation in early childhood special education: Implementing the DEC recommended practices (pp. 113–138). Missoula, MT: DEC.Google Scholar
- United States Department of Education (USDOE), & Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development. (2010). Evaluation of evidence-based practices in online learning: A meta-analysis and review of online learning studies. Washington, DC: Author.Google Scholar
- Weigel, D.J., Weiser, D. A., Bales, D. W., & Moyses, K. J. (2012). Identifying online preferences and needs of early childhood professionals. Early Childhood Research and Practice, 14(2). http://ecrp.uiuc.edu/v14n2/weigel.html.
- Winton, P., Buysse, V., Rous, B., Epstein, D., & Pierce, P. (2011). CONNECT Module 5: Assistive technology [Web-based PD curriculum]. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, FPG Child Development Institute, CONNECT.Google Scholar
- Winton, P. J., Buysse, V., Turnbull, A., Rous, B., & Hollingsworth, H. (2010). CONNECT Module 1: Embedded interventions [Web-based PD curriculum]. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, FPG Child Development Institute, CONNECT.Google Scholar
- Zaslow, M., Tout, K., Halle, T., Whittaker, J. V., & Lavelle, B. (2010). Toward the identification of features of effective professional development for early childhood educators: Literature review. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, Policy and Program Studies Service.Google Scholar