Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Teacher Education and Leadership

Committee Chair(s)

Martha Dever


Martha Dever


Sylvia Read


Barbara DeBoer


Laura Foley


Thomas Lee


The purpose of this study was to examine the perceptions of preservice students completing their associate’s degree (AS) in early childhood education (ECE). My intent was to discover, from the preservice teacher’s perspective, what skills and knowledge preservice students consider necessary to teach young children. I was also interested in how they viewed their professional preparation at the completion of their AS program.

The methods included participant interviews, documents and assignments completed by students, and program contextual data (faculty focus group and program documents). Seven themes were identified that represented the student’s perceptions of the skills and knowledge needed for working with young children (child development, learning environment, guidance, curriculum, teaching, assessment and experiences with children). All students reported the development of knowledge and skills through their participation in the ECE program. Each of these themes identified student support and belief in the philosophy of developmentally appropriate practices.

Three themes were identified that supported the overall perception of their professional development (reflection, National Association for the Education of Young Children [NAEYC] New Teacher Standards, becoming a professional). All preservice students identified development of professional skills, and reported increased confidence in their preparation to be early childhood classroom teachers. All identified NAEYC New Teacher Standards as part of their professional development and understanding.

This study provides the perspective of the AS degree seeking ECE preservice student. Little research is available on 2-year students. Further research in this area would aid in understanding and preparing teachers who are likely to work with the youngest in our society.