The purpose of this study was to discover preservice-teachers' beliefs about young children, their parents, and teaching in early childhood education (ECE). Beliefs are the dispositions one decides to use when one encounters certain situations. Beliefs can originate from various sources (e.g., past experiences, family, societal views and values, etc.). One's beliefs on a certain subject can be based on tacit assumptions, whereas one's knowledge can be based on empirical evidence about that subject. Although beliefs and knowledge are two different entities, they may not be easily distinguished in one's thought system. Specifically, one's beliefs and knowledge merge with each other in time.
Teachers' pedagogical constructions include their beliefs, which teachers may rely on to make decisions related to learning environment, learning, and learner. Also, teachers' interactions with parents of young children can be affected by their beliefs about parent involvement. In the context of ECE teacher education, ECE preservice-teachers' beliefs about young children, their parents, and teaching can affect how the preservice-teachers build their pedagogical knowledge. In some cases, preservice-teachers' beliefs that are affected by the candidate's own cultural values and past experiences may be a filter through the preservice-teachers adopt new information provided to them during their teacher education.
The investigator used a qualitative case study method to discover the phenomena. A survey questionnaire developed by the investigator, participants' journal entries, and artifacts the participants created were employed to gather data. Fourteen attendees of the course the researcher taught at an Eastern State University participated in this study. Data gathered were coded and analyzed by using constant comparative method and NVIVO qualitative research software.
Major findings included: (1) there was a relationship between the preservice teachers' beliefs about young children, their parents, and teaching in ECE, (2) the participants' memories of their childhood, school, teachers, and parents were found influential in the preservice-teachers' beliefs about young children, their parents, and ECE teaching, (3) the participants identified similar characteristics for the qualities of parenting and an ECE teacher, and (4) the relation between the participants' beliefs about young children, their parents, and teaching in ECE affected the preservice-teachers' philosophies of teaching.
The investigator made several implications based on the results. These implications aimed to guide ECE preservice-teacher education to address preservice-teachers' beliefs that they formed prior to their entrance to colleges of education. Finally, the investigator suggested several directions for future research.