Early childhood teachers’ conceptualization of learning in three different educational public school settings




Szilagyi, Judith Ringdal

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In this era of high stakes testing and accountability, how and what children learn in the early childhood classroom depends ultimately upon what their teachers make available to them (Goldstein, 2008; Lipsky, 1980). What teachers bring to children is thought to be associated with their beliefs about learning, and beliefs have been found to impact teacher behaviors i.e. classroom management, instruction, pedagogical methods, planning, and the students’ educational experience (Banu, 2014; Wiebe-Berry, 2006; Gutiervez, 1994; Brophy & Good, 1974; Avgitidou et al 2013). This study explored the links between a teacher’s conceptualizations of learning and her classroom practices and interactions with children. This was an ethnographic case study built with grounded theory as a way of interpreting and analyzing data. Three public-school settings located in central Texas were chosen as research sites—a public elementary school, a public charter school, and a Head Start. The participants were four prekindergarten teachers located in central Texas. Teachers’ conceptualizations of learning, the learner, and the role of the teacher were extricably intertwined and influenced the types of learning experiences teachers provided to children and the nature of the interactions in the classroom. Teachers’ conceptualizations of learning was influenced by their workplace environment and influenced the way in which they responded to the various ecologies present in their educational setting.


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