Date of Award:

1-1-2004

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Family, Consumer, and Human Development

Abstract

This study examined practicum students ' beliefs and experiences abo ut developmentally appropriate practice (DAP) prior to a practicum experience and following it. Another goal was to examine differences between the practicum students' majors and their pre- and posttest DAP beliefs and experiences scores. Finally, this investigation sought to determine the differences between practicum students' DAP beliefs and experiences and the amount of time they spent in a practicum setting.

A total of 95 students completing a practicum in the Adele and Dale Young Child Development Laboratory in the infant (Group I) or the 2-year-old classroom (Group 2) participated in the study. The students completed the Teacher Beliefs and Praclices Survey: Infan/s and Toddlers, as well as the Teacher Beliefs and Praclices Survey: Jnfanls if they were in Group I, or the Teacher Beliefs and Praclices Survey:

Toddlers, if they worked with Group 2. The questionnaire consisted of two sections. The items on the first part were designed to assess the practicum students' beliefs about DAP. The second part of the questionnaire measured practicum students' experiences and activities in the infant or toddler classroom.

Findings from the infants and toddlers measure indicate that the practicum students did show a statistically significant increase from pretest to posttest in their DAP beliefs, and a statistically significant decrease in DAP experiences. This might suggest that the students were able to understand the theories and philosophies of DAP; however, interpreting the guidelines of DAP into classroom practice in the short time associated with the practicum was a difficult task.

Results also showed a statistically significant difference between practicum students of different majors and their DAP beliefs and experiences prior to the practicum experience as compared to after. Practicum students with majors in family, consumer, and human development with an emphasis in human development showed the greatest increases in their DAP beliefs over time. Students majoring the early childhood education and related majors showed a statistically significant increase in their DAP experiences between pre- and posttest.

Finally, analyses to determine the relationship between practicum students' DAP beliefs and experiences and the amount of time they spent in a practicum setting showed that Group I (infants) had a statistically significant increase in DAP belief scores, even though they spent less time in the practicum setting. Group II (toddlers), who spent a longer time in the practicum selling, had a statistically significant increase in DAP experience scores.

Implications of these findings for teacher educators and students are presented. Recommendations for future research are also included.

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