Date of Award

5-1-2012

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Smith, Lynn

Abstract

The purposes of this study were (a) to examine early elementary grade teachers' developmentally appropriate beliefs and their teaching practices in public schools in Bangkok, (b) to explore the functioning of developmentally appropriate practice in the two chosen early elementary schools, and (c) to determine the factors that influence the teachers' implementation of developmentally appropriate practice in the selected early elementary schools. This study was a mixed-methods investigation, integrating two main phases: Phase One (survey method) and Phase Two (case studies). In the first phase, 335 early elementary grade teachers from 35 public schools in Bangkok were examined for their developmentally appropriate beliefs and teaching practices. Three surveys modified from Buchanan, Burts, Bidner, White, and Charlesworth (1998)--Teacher Demographic Questionnaire, Teacher Belief Scale (TBS), and Instructional Activity Scale (IAS)--were administered to the participating teachers. As the scores of the completed surveys were computed, two schools demonstrating the highest mean on Teacher Belief Scale (TBS) were chosen for the further case studies. In Phase Two, ten early elementary grade teachers from two selected schools were investigated. A case study design was employed to research the participating teachers' implementation of developmentally appropriate practice. Data sources included teacher interviews, classroom observations, and related document analyses. All collected data were coded and categorized in order to analyze the emergent themes and findings. Among the 335 teachers from 35 schools, the findings revealed that there was a significant difference of the teachers' developmentally appropriate beliefs; however, the results of data analyses showed that no significant difference of the teachers' developmentally appropriate teaching practices was found. The findings also suggested that there was a low positive correlation between the teachers' self-reported developmentally appropriate beliefs and teaching practices. The scores of the teachers' developmentally appropriate beliefs and teaching practices are varied across the classroom characteristics (i.e., grade levels taught, class size, and number of children with special needs) and the teacher characteristics (i.e., educational levels, majors/areas of expertise, years of graduation, and years of teaching experience). In the case studies, the observed teaching practices of the teachers from the two selected schools were not consistent with their reported developmentally appropriate beliefs and teaching practices. The teachers reported their partial application of developmentally appropriate practice. The factors that both supported and delayed the implementation included: the class-size of the classroom (number of students), parental involvement, and administrative systems. Also, the supporting factors were teachers' professional attitudes and the fact that teachers taught in self-contained classrooms, whereas the teachers' workload, the children's lack of readiness, and the limited school physical environment were noted as delaying factors. Recommendations for further research and practices are detailed.

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