Understanding Early Childhood Teachers’ Beliefs and Self-stated Practices about Social Competence Instructional Strategies in the Context of Developmentally Appropriate Practice: a Comparison of Preservice and In-service Teachers in the United States

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early childhood teacher beliefs, social competence, teacher education, developmentally appropriate practice


The current study is an examination of early childhood preservice and in-service teachers’ beliefs and self-stated practices about social competence instructional strategies, developmentally appropriate practices (DAP), and the relationship between the two. Teachers in this study generally believed that the social competence instructional strategies were more acceptable than feasible in the consideration of their classroom practice. Among the environmental, natural activity and intensive strategies, the intensive strategies were the least acceptable and feasible. In-service teachers showed stronger beliefs in the acceptability of the strategies. These results are supported by the self-stated practice based on the specific strategies that they use or observe. In-service teachers stated various environmental and natural activity strategies that they currently use. Preservice teachers reported the importance of social competence with relevant examples of classroom practice from the field experiences. In an investigation of the relationship between social competence instructional strategies and DAP, there was a statistically significant relationship between beliefs about overall acceptability and feasibility of social competence instructional strategies and DAP. The findings expand the literature about domain specific teachers’ beliefs within the DAP research, and offer implications for early childhood teacher educators to provide tailored support for preservice and in-service teachers in the area of social competence instructional strategies as well as DAP.

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European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, v. 23, issue 4, p. 476-496

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