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"Article of the Year" on Early Childhood Teacher Education Is Among the Most Read

"Article of the Year" on Early Childhood Teacher Education Is Among the Most Read

January 21, 2015

Last year, the Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education awarded FPG senior scientist Pamela J. Winton, University of Pennsylvania scholar Marylou Hyson, and University of Oklahoma-Tulsa lead author Diane M. Horm with the Taylor & Francis Distinguished Article of the Year for 2013. The journal's publisher has just announced the article was among the year's most read and is now offering it online at no cost.

Horm, Hyson, and Winton published “Research on Early Childhood Teacher Education: Evidence from Three Domains and Recommendations for Moving Forward” in a special issue of the journal. Public awareness of the value of high-quality early childhood education has never been higher, as evidence mounts about early education’s crucial role in promoting positive short-term and long-term outcomes. Higher education’s role in preparing teachers to deliver on that promise is significant and continues to grow, which led to the  special issue of the Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education (“Early Childhood Teacher Education: Why Does It Matter? How Does It Matter?”) that includes Horm, Hyson, and Winton’s award-winning article.

Winton and her co-authors examined studies about early childhood teacher education (ECTE) across three domains: addressing the needs of young children with disabilities and their families; understanding and working effectively with infants and toddlers; and, building young children’s competence and interest in mathematics. Each of these domains is critically important in the preparation of early childhood teachers, and programs for early childhood teachers often have under-emphasized each of these domains.

Five common themes emerged:

1. Accreditation of ECTE programs is voluntary, which has limited the benefits of state and national attempts at quality assurance.

2. There is a dearth of research about the barriers and facilitators for faculty in implementing high-quality college curricula that align with evidence-based practice.

3. Pre-service students in ECTE programs receive limited coursework in key content areas, such as working with children with disabilities, caring for infants and toddlers, and teaching math.

4. No system exists to ensure the use of evidence-based approaches in preparing teachers.

5. There is little follow-up of pre-service students once they have entered the field. Missing are measures of: a) teacher competence, b) the fidelity of implementation of effective practices by student teachers, and c) faculty use of emerging, evidence-based curricula.

The authors concluded the field could not yet answer questions about the impact of ECTE programs on teachers or on the children they serve, indicating several priorities for new research on many areas of teacher preparation. The authors also called for an environment conducive to collaboration among those who are skilled in qualitative and quantitative research and for a coherent and programmatic research agenda.

Horm, Hyson, and Winton also identified needs for a well-prepared pipeline of future ECTE researchers, support from funders and policymakers to build the capacity both to train these researchers and conduct necessary studies, and attention to implementation science in order to help faculty and institutions thoughtfully apply results of research.

Horm, who directs the Early Childhood Education Institute at University of Oklahoma-Tulsa, will accept the Distinguished Article of the Year award on November 3rd in Dallas, when the National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators meets at the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s fall conference.

FPG’s 2-page Snapshot of “Research on Early Childhood Teacher Education: Evidence from Three Domains and Recommendations for Moving Forward”

Abstract and link to full article

Pamela J. Winton, Senior Scientist
UNC’s Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute

FPG grants permission to publish this story in part or in its entirety.