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The influence of developmentally appropriate practice on children's cognitive development: A qualitative metasynthesis

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Background: As policymakers and advocates across the United States look to early childhood educators to improve children's cognitive development so they enter elementary school ready to learn, debates have emerged over what types of practices these educators should be engaged in to achieve this goal. Historically, the field of early childhood education has advocated for teachers to employ developmentally appropriate practices to ready young children for school success. Yet, empirically, the quantitative studies that have examined the impact of these practices on children's cognitive development have produced mixed results. Absent from these debates are qualitative research studies exploring this topic. Purpose of Study: To address this issue, this article presents findings from a qualitative metasynthesis that studied whether teachers and/or administrators were engaging in developmentally appropriate practices, and if so, how such practices might influence children's cognitive development. Research Design: This qualitative metasynthesis used a template analysis to code 12 peer-reviewed qualitative studies that were based on original research, took place in the United States, and involved practicing teachers and administrators who worked in early childhood settings (birth through Grade 3). Findings: The findings appear to demonstrate a positive influence of teachers' developmentally appropriate practices on children's cognitive development and a negative influence from practices that contrast with this construct. These findings also reveal the need to continue to refine the conception of these practices as well as additional research that examines the influence of such practices on children's development. Conclusion: It appears that developmentally appropriate practices can positively influence children's cognitive development. Still, it is uncertain as to what these benefits mean in terms of student outcomes, which has become a fundamental issue for publicly funded early education programs. This metasynthesis points to the need for further research that uses a range of measures to examine the influence of developmentally appropriate practices on children rather than teachers. Such work should pay attention to children's cognitive development as well as attend to children's cultural backgrounds. By doing so, it could help inform the fields of early and elementary school education about the impact of developmentally appropriate practices on children's development so that educators across both contexts can provide instructional practices that ready young children for school success.
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Teachers College Record Volume 115, 120304, December 2013, 36 pages
Copyright © by Teachers College, Columbia University
0161-4681
1
The Influence of Developmentally
Appropriate Practice on Children’s
Cognitive Development: A Qualitative
Metasynthesis
CHRISTOPHER P. BROWN
University of Texas at Austin
YI-CHIN LAN
University of Texas at Austin
Background: As policymakers and advocates across the United States look to early childhood
educators to improve children’s cognitive development so they enter elementary school ready
to learn, debates have emerged over what types of practices these educators should be engaged
in to achieve this goal. Historically, the field of early childhood education has advocated for
teachers to employ developmentally appropriate practices to ready young children for school
success. Yet, empirically, the quantitative studies that have examined the impact of these prac-
tices on children’s cognitive development have produced mixed results. Absent from these
debates are qualitative research studies exploring this topic.
Purpose of Study: To address this issue, this article presents findings from a qualitative
metasynthesis that studied whether teachers and/or administrators were engaging in devel-
opmentally appropriate practices, and if so, how such practices might influence children’s
cognitive development.
Research Design: This qualitative metasynthesis used a template analysis to code 12 peer-
reviewed qualitative studies that were based on original research, took place in the United
States, and involved practicing teachers and administrators who worked in early childhood
settings (birth through Grade 3).
TCR, 115, 120304 Developmentally Appropriate Practice and Cognitive Development
2
INTRODUCTION
The increased focus by policymakers and advocates in the United States
(U.S.) on the expansion of preschool services to young children to im-
prove their cognitive development has led to many inside and outside
the field of early childhood education (ECE) to investigate the effective-
ness of these programs (e.g., pre-kindergarten) and their practices (e.g.,
developmentally appropriate practice) in preparing young children for
school success (e.g., Gormley, Gayer, Phillips, & Dawson, 2005; Phillips,
Gormley, & Lowenstein, 2009; Winsler et al., 2008). While most agree
that a central purpose of ECE is to prepare children for school success, a
division has emerged in how success is defined as well as which practices
should be implemented to achieve this goal (e.g., Bishop-Josef & Zigler,
2011; Meisels, 2007). For many within the field of ECE, their focus has
been how to prepare young children for school through developmentally
appropriate practices (DAP) that center on the individual developmental
needs of their students. For policymakers, elementary school stakehold-
ers, and researchers concerned with programmatic or instructional ef-
fectiveness (e.g., U.S. Department of Education & U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services, 2011), their focus has been on children’s
cognitive development (e.g., Magnuson, Meyers, Ruhm, & Waldfogel,
2004; J. M. Williams, Landry, Anthony, Swank, & Crawford, 2012).
Both sets of stakeholders want young children to be successful in
elementary school. However, a key area of tension within this debate
centers on the construct of DAP and its implementation by teachers in
Findings: The findings appear to demonstrate a positive influence of teachers’ developmen-
tally appropriate practices on children’s cognitive development and a negative influence from
practices that contrast with this construct. These findings also reveal the need to continue to
refine the conception of these practices as well as additional research that examines the influ-
ence of such practices on children’s development.
Conclusion: It appears that developmentally appropriate practices can positively influence
children’s cognitive development. Still, it is uncertain as to what these benefits mean in terms
of student outcomes, which has become a fundamental issue for publicly funded early educa-
tion programs. This metasynthesis points to the need for further research that uses a range of
measures to examine the influence of developmentally appropriate practices on children rather
than teachers. Such work should pay attention to children’s cognitive development as well as
attend to children’s cultural backgrounds. By doing so, it could help inform the fields of early
and elementary school education about the impact of developmentally appropriate practices
on children’s development so that educators across both contexts can provide instructional
practices that ready young children for school success.
Teachers College Record, 115, 120304 (2013)
3
early learning environments serving children from birth to Grade 3 (e.g.,
Copple & Bredekamp, 2008; Neuharth-Pritchett, Reguero de Atiles, &
Park, 2003). While those who advocate for DAP contend that it is an ef-
fective theory of practice that teachers can implement to ready young
children for school success, much of the quantitative work that has mea-
sured the impact of preschool and elementary school teachers’ devel-
opmentally appropriate practices on children’s cognitive development
(e.g., Marcon, 1999; Stipek, Feiler, Daniels, & Milburn, 1995; Stipek et
al., 1998) is ambiguous and limited (e.g., Van Horn & Ramey, 2003).
As Van Horn, Karlin, Ramey, Aldridge, and Snyder (2005) point out,
“Classrooms using DAP may be more appealing learning environments,
but they are not necessarily more effective. The research to date fails
to provide unequivocal support for the effectiveness of DAP” (p. 348).
Van Horn and his colleagues’ work raise numerous questions about the
effectiveness of teachers using this theory of practice to prepare young
children for school success.
Absent from this debate over the influence of teachers engaging in
DAP on children’s cognitive development are qualitative research stud-
ies exploring this topic (e.g., Ginsburg & Amit, 2008). These studies go
beyond measuring students’ outcomes and provide insight into the lived
experiences of early educators as they engage with their students in de-
velopmentally appropriate practices and/or practices that are not devel-
opmentally appropriate. Investigating these early educators’ practices
is critical to understanding their effect on children’s cognitive develop-
ment; this, in turn, might illuminate how research focused on specific
outcomes could overlook or fail to adequately measure the bearing of
these practices on children’s development.
To do this, this article employs a qualitative metasynthesis of published
peer-reviewed qualitative studies of DAP to examine how teachers engag-
ing in DAP facilitate learning opportunities for their students’ cognitive
development (Major & Savin-Baden, 2010). Qualitative metasynthesis is
an approach to research that analyzes, interprets, and synthesizes a large
number of qualitative studies to provide a refined understanding of a
particular event or phenomena (Finfgeld, 2003; McCormick, Rodney, &
Varcoe, 2003; Thorne, Jensen, Kearney, Noblit, & Sandelowski, 2004).
The findings from this study, which are reported in this article, first ex-
amined whether early childhood teachers in peer-reviewed qualitative
studies do in fact engage in this theory of practice. If such practices were
found, this study then looked at how they might be linked to students’
cognitive development. The findings of this systemic synthesis represent
a potential source of information about the influence of developmentally
appropriate practices on children’s development and their readiness for
TCR, 115, 120304 Developmentally Appropriate Practice and Cognitive Development
4
school. They also offer the chance to develop a better understanding as
to what types of research still need to be done to inform those interest-
ed in early education about the influence of DAP on students’ cognitive
development.
DEVELOPMENTALLY APPROPRIATE PRACTICE
DAP emerged as an organizational response in the 1980s by the National
Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) to stem what
its members saw as the rise in the use of formal academic instruction in
the early education programs that were “based on misconceptions of ear-
ly learning” (Bredekamp, 1987, p. 1). Their worry was the didactic and
direct instructional practices typically found in elementary school and
the use of standardized cognitive assessments to determine such things
as kindergarten entry (e.g., Shepard & Smith, 1988) were becoming com-
mon practice in ECE programs. NAEYC argued that such practices and
policies for children ages 0 to 8 years went against how they develop and
learn (Bowman, Donovan, & Burns, 2000; Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000)
as well as contradicted empirical studies that demonstrate children are
poor test-takers (Gullo, 1994; Kamii, 1990).
AN EVOLVING CONCEPTION OF PRACTICE
Following the original publication of this document, numerous critiques
of it emerged within the field of ECE itself (e.g., Cannella, 1997). Some
questioned the overdependence on developmental theory (e.g., Walsh,
1991) and others worried about the universal assumptions the document
espouses (e.g., Lubeck, 1998). There are also those who argued that DAP
does not adequately take into account the impact of children’s home and
community cultures on their development (e.g., Spodek, 1991). NAEYC
revised its position statement in 1997 (Bredekamp & Copple, 1997) to
address these concerns and others over the expansion of services, the in-
clusion of children with special needs, and the influence of programmat-
ic and policy issues at that time. While critiques against this revision con-
tinued to emerge (e.g., Blaise, 2004; Hyun, 2007; van Ausdale & Feagin,
2001), the landscape of ECE continued to change significantly. Such is-
sues as the rise of standards-based accountability reform, increased di-
versity in the children attending ECE programs, and the underfunding
of the field itself led to a third revision in 2009. This revision (Copple
& Bredekamp, 2009) addresses three specific issues: “reducing learn-
ing gaps and increasing the achievement of all children; creating im-
proved, better connected education for preschool and elementary chil-
dren; and recognizing teacher knowledge and decision making as vital
Teachers College Record, 115, 120304 (2013)
5
to educational effectiveness” (p. 2). While critiques over this theory of
practice linger (e.g., Kuschner, 2011; Langford, 2010) and the landscape
as well as context of the field continues to evolve, the core considerations
in DAP have remained relatively unchanged.
DAP’S THEORY OF PRACTICE
DAP employs developmental theory to promote instructional practices
that focus on the growth and development of individual children across
all of their developmental domains. These child-centered practices are
“informed by what we know from theory and literature about how chil-
dren develop and learn” (Copple & Bredekamp, 2009, p. 10). Early ed-
ucators use their knowledge about “child development and learning,”
about the individual learning need of children, and “the social and cul-
tural contexts” in which their students live to make instructional and
curricular decisions (Copple & Bredekamp, 2009, pp. 9–10). DAP frames
the construct of cognitive achievement through a normative conception
of children’s growth and development. This interpretation of achieve-
ment emerged through early childhood researchers’ traditional use of
norm-referenced measures that established many of the norms of child
development and the field that reflect a “variation in learners” (Copple
& Bredekamp, 2009, p. 22). Lastly, DAP focuses on the individual perfor-
mance of each child rather than the performance of a program or even
an entire education system (Brown, 2009).
In terms of teaching, both the 1997 and 2009 revisions of DAP frame
teachers as active decision makers whose instruction is an act of medi-
ation between the individual needs of their students and the goals of
the program/curricula they are to implement. While high expectations
for all children are required for teachers to be engaging in DAP, varia-
tion in their practices and the process of learning for children are ex-
pected. According to Bredekamp and Copple (1997) and Copple and
Bredekamp (2009), teachers who engage in DAP use a wide range of
instructional practices that include such acts as acknowledging what chil-
dren do or say, encouraging persistence and effort, asking questions that
provoke children’s thinking, scaffolding children’s learning, or making
purposeful use of various learning formats.
In Contrast to Developmentally Appropriate Practices
Such a framing of DAP, which allows for instructional and curricular vari-
ation due to developmental, individual, social, and cultural differences
among children, makes it difficult to define DAP through a single defini-
tion. However, if decisions are made that fail to take into account these
TCR, 115, 120304 Developmentally Appropriate Practice and Cognitive Development
6
core variables, they are labeled as not being appropriate. The second
edition of DAP (Bredekamp & Copple, 1997) tried to address the subtle-
ty of this notion of inappropriate practice by moving away from the 1987
position statement of identifying a practice as being either appropriate
or inappropriate by introducing the terms “both/and” (p. 23). Copple
and Bredekamp (2009) expand on this reframing of appropriate prac-
tice in the third edition. For instance, when thinking about how children
learn, rather than saying one type of learning situation is appropriate
and another is not, they point out in both documents that it is a matter
of both “children constructing their own understanding of concepts, and
they benefit from instruction by more competent peers and adults” (see
p. 23 in Bredekamp & Copple, 1997 and p. 49 in Copple & Bredekamp,
2009). To be clear, they acknowledge that there are practices “that are
not appropriate” (Copple & Bredekamp, 2009, p. 48), such as ignoring
individual or cultural differences among children. Nevertheless, Copple
and Bredekamp (2009) substitute the term “in contrast” for “inappropri-
ate practices” when laying out what they see being five areas of impor-
tance to the teacher’s role in the classroom: “creating a caring communi-
ty of learners, teaching to enhance development and learning, planning
curriculum to achieve important goals, assessing children’s development
and learning, and establishing reciprocal relationships with families” (p.
149). Copple and Bredekamp (2009) state that they do this for two rea-
sons: (a) to avoid a typology for DAP; and (b) to help practitioners reflect
on and understand how their “well-intentioned” practices may not “serve
children well,” and at their most extreme, can be “dangerous or would
cause children lasting damage” (p. 149).
QUANTITATIVE INVESTIGATIONS INTO THE INFLUENCE OF DAP ON
COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT
Once NAEYC published its guidelines for DAP in 1987 and 1997, a se-
ries of quantitative empirical studies emerged that examined its influ-
ence on children’s cognitive development (e.g., Jones & Gullo, 1999;
Stipek et al., 1995). Studies reported a positive effect (Burts et al., 1993;
Dunn, Beach, & Kontos, 1994; Huffman & Speer, 2000; Marcon, 1993),
a mixed/no effect (Jones & Gullo, 1999; Stipek et al., 1998; Van Horn &
Ramey, 2003), and a negative effect on children’s cognitive development
(Stipek et al., 1995).
In recent years, Van Horn and his colleagues (Van Horn & Ramey,
2003; Van Horn et al., 2005) have questioned the results that emerged
from this work by highlighting the design flaws in many of these studies
(i.e., employing a nested design without the analytical methods appro-
priate for nested data structures). In terms of the influence of teachers’
Teachers College Record, 115, 120304 (2013)
7
developmentally appropriate practices on children’s cognitive develop-
ment, they found that many of these studies that showed a positive effect
of teachers engaging in DAP employed teacher self-reports or measures
(e.g., Marcon, 1993). When comparing these findings with studies that
employed standardized measures of children’s cognitive development,
such as the Woodcock-Johnson® and Peabody Individual Achievement
Test, the results were mixed—demonstrating both positive (e.g.,
Huffman & Speer, 2000) and negative effects (e.g., Stipek et al., 1995).
In his own work (Van Horn & Ramey, 2003), he and Ramey studied the
impact of teachers’ developmentally appropriate practices on the cogni-
tive development of first through third grade students through a multi-
level analytic design. They found no consistent relationship between the
teachers’ developmentally appropriate practices and students’ level of
achievement on standardized achievement tests or measures of receptive
language.
In sum, Van Horn and his colleagues’ work demonstrates that much
of the quantitative work done to measure the impact of teachers’ devel-
opmentally appropriate practices on children’s cognitive development is
flawed, and in those instances where it is not, the findings are inconsis-
tent. These results led Van Horn et al. (2005) to argue that there needs
to be a “shift in the DAP research paradigm, from the basic question
of whether DAP are, in general, effective, to the question of, for which
children, if any, DAP are most or least effective” (p. 348). To do this,
they suggest taking on a more ecological perspective that takes into ac-
count the complexity of the classroom as well as the interactions between
teachers and students, which includes taking into consideration such
demographic variables as race, class, and gender. While such a recom-
mendation seems logical, the intent behind this theory of practice was
to serve all children, not specific types or sets of children in particular
contexts. Moreover, when looking at the critiques that have been leveled
against DAP (e.g., Cannella, 1997), following such a line of reasoning
would make this theory of practice even more controversial.
Instead, we argue for conducting a qualitative metasynthesis to enlarge
the “interpretive possibilities of findings” of the influence of DAP on
children’s cognitive development (Sandelowski, Docherty, & Emden,
1997, p. 369). Doing so does not isolate the effects of this theory of prac-
tice on one type of program or population of children. Instead, such a
study provides an opportunity to look into the influence of these prac-
tices on children’s development in a collective manner. It tries to “make
sense of, or interpret the meanings” these researchers generated as they
interpreted their participants’ implementation of this theory of practice
with a range of children and their families across an array of “natural
TCR, 115, 120304 Developmentally Appropriate Practice and Cognitive Development
8
settings” (Denzin & Lincoln, 2005, p. 3). This offers the chance to gain
insight into how research focused on specific outcomes might overlook
or fail to adequately measure the bearing of these practices on children’s
development and, in turn, their preparedness for elementary school.
METHODS
DESIGN
To examine the findings and assertions put forward in qualitative stud-
ies, we employed a form of qualitative metasynthesis (Noblit & Hare,
1988; Sandelowski et al., 1997), or what others have termed a qualitative
meta-analysis (e.g., McCormick et al., 2003). Qualitative metasynthesis
is a form of metaresearch that, as Major and Savin-Baden (2010) point
out, “Uses qualitative methods to analyze, synthesize and interpret the
results from qualitative studies” (p. 10). Essentially, the researchers sum-
marize the findings across studies while identifying which of these find-
ings are clear and supported. They then compare and combine findings,
and lastly, they interpret the findings in “relation to core themes that
emerge across the studies” (Major & Savin-Baden, 2010, p. 10). By en-
gaging in this rigorous and systematic methodological process, the goal
is to develop a refined understanding of a particular event, experience
or phenomenon (Thorne et al., 2004).
The focus of the metasynthesis reported on in this article was to ex-
amine a set of qualitative studies that investigated the types of practices
teachers and/or administrators were engaged in and how such practices
influenced their students’ cognitive development. Specifically, this ar-
ticle presents and analyzes the results from two research questions: Are
teachers and/or administrators engaging in developmentally appropri-
ate learning practices that might influence students’ cognitive develop-
ment? If so, how might these learning opportunities influence children’s
cognitive development?
DATA COLLECTION
Metasynthesis follows several specific steps (Major & Savin-Baden,
2010). For this study, the first step was to identify and collect the qual-
itative studies that examined the implementation of DAP by teachers/
administrators.
Procedures for Finding Articles
The articles in this metasynthesis were gathered from searches com-
pleted in October 2011 using several research databases, which included
Teachers College Record, 115, 120304 (2013)
9
Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC), JSTOR, Springer,
Web of Science, and Education Full Text™ databases as well as key-word
searches in such journals as Early Childhood Research Quarterly, Journal of
Research in Childhood Education, and Early Childhood Education Journal. The
initial search terms used to identify potential studies for this metasynthe-
sis were “developmentally appropriate,” “child-centered,” and “qualita-
tive.” This generated a list of 50 potential studies.
Quality Control
To strengthen the quality of the studies used in this metasynthesis, these
potential studies were further reduced by using a predetermined set of
criteria: published, peer-reviewed, qualitative studies based on origi-
nal research of NAEYC’s guidelines for developmentally appropriate
practice (Bredekamp, 1987; Bredekamp & Copple, 1997; Copple &
Bredekamp, 2009) in early childhood classrooms. This narrowed the po-
tential pool of studies down to 25.
Within qualitative research, the peer-review process is used as a ve-
hicle to add a layer of credibility to one’s work (Lincoln & Guba, 1985).
Furthermore, as Major and Savin-Baden (2010) point out, “Most qualita-
tive syntheses use studies from peer-reviewed journals, since these have
ben subjected to peer review and thus have at least one layer of quality
control built in” (pp. 48–49). Having academic peers who are affiliated
with the field of study in which the research was conducted helps filter
out egregiously bad or politically slanted work and increases its trustwor-
thiness (Paterson, Thorne, Canam, & Jillings, 2001; Ware & Monkman,
2008).
Criteria for Study Selection
After controlling for quality, the potential pool was narrowed further by
purposefully selecting (Merriam, 2009) only those studies conducted in
the U.S. to limit the focus of this review on the influence of DAP on
teachers and students in the classroom context in the nation in which this
theory of practice was developed. This was done to eliminate any issues
of surrounding the practitioners’ interpretations of DAP across various
cultural or political contexts that go beyond the country in which this
document originated. This narrowed the potential pool of studies down
to 20. Finally, to ensure the “purpose” of this metasynthesis was met,
studies whose “research questions differ[ed] dramatically” from investi-
gating whether teachers were engaged in developmentally appropriate
practices and what effect, if any, they had on children’s cognitive devel-
opment were eliminated (Paterson et al., 2001, p. 39)
TCR, 115, 120304 Developmentally Appropriate Practice and Cognitive Development
10
As a result of this data collection process, the data set includes 12 stud-
ies that are peer-reviewed, based on original research, take place in the
U.S., and involve practicing teachers and administrators who worked in
early childhood settings (birth through Grade 3). The recommend num-
ber of studies to include in a metasynthesis ranges from 2 to 20 (Major
& Savin-Baden, 2010; Noblit & Hare, 1988). For example, Major and
Savin-Baden (2010) contend that, “Between 6 and 10 studies is optimal
to provide sufficient yet manageable data” (p. 54).
For this metasynthesis, all 12 studies employed the 2nd edition of
NAEYC’s DAP document (Bredekamp & Copple, 1997). The studies an-
alyzed in this article included such participants as administrators, teach-
ers, and children; and they took place across a range of early childhood
contexts, including preschool programs, pre-kindergarten and elemen-
tary grade classrooms, music classrooms, and a public school playground
(see Table 1 for a listing of studies analyzed and details about each of
these studies).
While the 3rd edition of NAEYC’s DAP document was published in
2009 (Copple & Bredekamp, 2009), as of October 2011, none of the
studies that met our criteria had used this document. Furthermore, the
sample that emerged from this metasynthesis reveals that very few re-
searchers, particularly using forms of qualitative inquiry, have published
peer-reviewed work that examines and/or demonstrates how practitio-
ners interpret and/or implement DAP. As such, we framed this metasyn-
thesis of what research has been done on DAP through the most recent
edition of this document (Copple & Bredekamp, 2009). In doing so, we
argue that this study offers those interested in DAP insight into how this
form of practice might affect children’s development. Additionally, the
findings from this study provide direction for future research into the
influence of teachers’ practices on children’s cognitive development.
DATA ANALYSIS
Coding the Data
The studies were coded using a template analysis (King, 1998, 2006).
Template analysis is a form of thematic metasynthesis that codes textual
data using a template of deductive and inductive codes developed by the
researchers. King (1998) notes that these codes are seen as, “A means to
an end of interpreting the texts, helping the researcher to produce an ac-
count which does as much justice as possible to the richness of the data”
(p. 130). Developing the template requires the researchers to develop a
set of deductive codes that are based on what is expected to be relevant
in the work (King, 1998, 2006). King (1998) states, “Put simply, a code is
Teachers College Record, 115, 120304 (2013)
11
Ginsburg & Amit, 2008 Goldstein, 1997 Goldstein, 2007a Goldstein, 2008 Kurkjian et al., 2001 Jackson, 2009 Miranda, 2000
Sample 1 teacher 1 teacher 2 teachers 4 teachers 1 teacher; 1 teaching assistant;
15 children; 3-, 4-, and
5-year-olds
16 children; 8
boys, 8 girls; 5-
or 6-year-olds
12 children (first
semester) 4- and
5-year-olds 12 children
(third semester); 5- and
6-year-olds
Teacher, parents, and
school director
Setting and
Participants Preschool classroom
for 3- to 5-year-olds A public undergrad
primary classroom Full-day public kinder-
garten classrooms Full-day public
kindergarten
classrooms
Half-day bilingual Head Start/
Pre-K classroom in an elemen-
tary school
Private
kindergarten
classroom
2 Yamaha Junior Music
Course in a private
music studio.
Methods Ethnography Qualitative Case study Case study Case study Naturalistic Qualitative
Data
Collection Videotaped sessions
during fourth and
final year of project;
Conversation
Observations; Field
notes; Interviews (10
hours); Reflective
journals
Participant observation
(3–4 a week in each
classroom); Field
notes; 1 interview w/
each teacher
Participant
observation (3–4
a week in each
classroom);
Field notes; 1
interview w/ each
teacher
The Measures of Knowledge
of Developmentally
Appropriate Practice interview
(Snider & Fu, 1990); Audio
interviews; 10 observations
that included field notes
and videotaping; Childcare
Environment Survey (Johnson,
Werner & Caverly, 1992)
Participant ob-
servations (18
over 8 weeks);
Classroom arti-
facts; Teacher
interview
Weekly observations;
Attended a parent
meeting and 2 perfor-
mances over one semes-
ter; Field notes; Audio
and video recordings;
Formal/informal inter-
views with parents and
other adult teachers at
the school; Collection
of artifacts
Main themes
and concepts
identified by
authors
Teaching younger chil-
dren mathematics is as
complex as teaching
older children math-
ematics; It requires
the teacher to know
content and pedagogi-
cal content.
Struggles of engag-
ing in DAP within
the primary school
classroom, particu-
larly with families.
Inconsistency exists
between the teacher’s
interpretation
of DAP and her
implementation.
Excellent teaching
requires complex
judgment by teachers
and the integration
of a multiplicity of
practices. Requiring
the accommodation of
standards and account-
ability into their DAP.
Teachers possess
and engage
in street-level
curricular and
instructional poli-
cymaking, which
is complex and
may not always
be appropriate.
Provides a rich description of
how one teacher interprets
and operationalizes develop-
mentally appropriate literacy
practice to generate a discus-
sion on how developmentally
and culturally appropriate
literacy practice may be
understood and applied in a
real-life setting.
Disconnect
between teach-
ers’ beliefs and
practices. The
relationship
between DAP/
DIP and
children’s stress
behaviors.
Contends that Yamaha
is DIP due to its pre-
determined and fixed
plan, but the teacher
makes aspects of it DAP
through instructional
decisions.
Table 1. Summaries of the Qualitative Studies Used in This Metasynthesis
TCR, 115, 120304 Developmentally Appropriate Practice and Cognitive Development
12
Moon & Reifel, 2008 Sanders, Deihl, & Kyler, 2007 Schweber, 2008 Tarman & Tarman, 2011 Wee, 2011
Sample 1 teacher 6 African American preschool
directors Male third grade teacher;
4 focal children Preschool teacher with B.S.
18 children; 4-year-olds;
(11 Caucasian, 2 African
American, 1 Chinese, 2
Korean, 1 Russian, and 1
German)
Two drama specialists
Setting and
Participants Public pre-K classroom Subsidized childcare centers
located in a low-income, racial
ethnic minority area of L.A.
Public three-grade
classroom Preschool classroom Two kindergarten drama
classes (in two different public
elementary schools)
Methods Qualitative Qualitative Case study Case study Case study
Data Collection Interviews;
Informal conversations;
Scheduled observations;
Self-reflexive notes about
the teacher and her students
(During the first semester, data
were gathered twice each week)
Semi-structured interviews;
Participant observation, which
included field notes and informal
conversations. Observing each
program a minimum of 2 days
a week for 2 hours. (3 months,
Sep–Nov)
Observation of all the class
sessions in the unit.
Interviewed teacher 5
times and focal children
3 times.
Interviewed parents of
each child once.
Classroom artifacts.
7 1-hour observations; au-
dio-taped interviews; physi-
cal artifacts; documents
Observation 2–3 times a week
for 3 weeks (9 times in total)
for Rachel’s class;
Observation 2–3 times a week
for 3 weeks (10 times in total)
for Carrie’s class.
Semi-structured formal
interviews for two times (lasted
about 30–60 minutes).
Informal interviews were
frequently conducted before
and after classes.
Main themes and
concepts identified
by authors
A teacher’s own beliefs about
play influenced how she pre-
pared ESL children for their
literacy learning. Educators
and researchers need to
reconsider how to take these
beliefs and interpretations of
DAP into account to better as-
sist teachers and children from
multiple cultural backgrounds.
DAP is linked to these directors’
social and cultural understand-
ing of the needs and conditions
affecting the children in their
community setting, which includes
such issues as academics, religion,
and ways of caring for children.
Serious topics, such as
genocide, can be taught
to children appropriately.
But, it does not mean that
such content should be
taught. Raises questions
about children’s emotional
readiness.
Teachers should be a model
and a demonstrator instead
of intervening in children’s
play by direct instruction.
Teachers’ beliefs about
drama education influenced
the emphases they put on
their teaching and students’
learning. The inconsistency
appeared between teachers’
beliefs and practices.
Table 1. Summaries of the Qualitative Studies Used in This Metasynthesis (continued)
Teachers College Record, 115, 120304 (2013)
13
a label attached to a section of text to index it as relating to a theme or
issue in the data which the researcher has identified as important to his
or her interpretation” (p. 119). These deductive codes were used to not
only code the researchers’ analysis of their findings, but also the actual
data they presented in their work.
This first template focused on coding the instructional practices of
teachers and/or administrators (see Figure 1). Clear and supported data
describing the teachers’/administrators’ instructional practices were cod-
ed using one of two categories: teacher’s instruction identified as de-
velopmentally appropriate practices (TIDAP) or teacher’s instruction
identified as contrasting with developmentally appropriate practices
(TICDAP). To keep the categories and codes as short as possible, we
dropped the term administrator from them.
Under each category were two subcategories that further documented
how that instance of instruction in the data facilitated an opportunity
for the students’ cognitive development: teacher’s instruction appears
to positively influence students’ cognitive development (TIPISCD) and
teacher’s instruction appears to negatively influence students’ cognitive
development (TINISCD). So after a teacher’s practice was coded as being
How teachers’ DAP influence children’s cognitive development 11
While the 3rd edition of NAEYC’s DAP document was published in 2009 (Copple & Bredekamp, 2009), as
of October 2011, none of the studies that met our criteria had used this document. Furthermore, the
sample that emerged from this metasynthesis reveals that very few researchers, particularly using forms
of qualitative inquiry, have published peer-reviewed work that examines and/or demonstrates how
practitioners interpret and/or implement DAP. As such, we framed this metasynthesis of what research
has been done on DAP through the most recent edition of this document (Copple & Bredekamp, 2009). In
doing so, we argue that this study offers those interested in DAP insight into how this form of practice
might affect children’s development. Additionally, the findings from this study provide direction for future
research into the influence of teachers’ practices on children’s cognitive development.
DATA ANALYSIS
Coding the Data
The studies were coded using a template analysis (King, 1998, 2006). Template analysis is a form of
thematic metasynthesis that codes textual data using a template of deductive and inductive codes
developed by the researchers. King (1998) notes that these codes are seen as, “A means to an end of
interpreting the texts, helping the researcher to produce an account which does as much justice as
possible to the richness of the data” (p. 130). Developing the template requires the researchers to
develop a set of deductive codes that are based on what is expected to be relevant in the work (King,
1998, 2006). King (1998) states, “Put simply, a code is a label attached to a section of text to index it as
relating to a theme or issue in the data which the researcher has identified as important to his or her
interpretation” (p. 119). These deductive codes were used to not only code the researchers’ analysis of
their findings, but also the actual data they presented in their work.
Figure 1. Qualitative Metasynthesis Deductive Coding Template
This first template focused on coding the instructional practices of teachers and/or administrators (See
Figure 1). Clear and supported data describing the teachers/administrators’ instructional practices were
coded using one of two categories: teacher’s instruction identified as developmentally appropriate
TIDAP
Teacher’s instruction identified as
developmentally appropriate
TICDAP
Teacher’s instruction identified as
contrasting with DAP
TIPISCD
Teacher’s
instruction
appears to
positively
influence
students’
cognitive
development
TINISCD
Teacher’s
instruction
appears to
negatively
influence
students’
cognitive
development
TIPISCD
Teacher’s
instruction
appears to
positively
influence
students’
cognitive
development
Teacher’s
instruction
appears to
negatively
influence
students’
cognitive
development
Teachers’ Instructional Practices
Figure 1. Qualitative Metasynthesis Deductive Coding Template
TCR, 115, 120304 Developmentally Appropriate Practice and Cognitive Development
14
developmentally appropriate or contrasting with DAP, it was then coded
again as positively or negatively influencing children’s cognitive develop-
ment (See Table 2).
After applying this template to the whole data set, the deductive codes
were refined and an inductive set of codes was developed that repre-
sented new ideas that emerged in the data (King, 1998, 2006). The two
new inductive codes that emerged from this process fell under a new
category titled Apparent Struggles of Teachers with DAP. These codes
were teacher’s external struggles with DAP (TESDAP) and teacher’s in-
ternal struggles with DAP (TISDAP). TESDAP represents any external
pressure or difficulties they faced in implementing DAP. For instance,
Goldstein (1997) was coded TESDAP because the kindergarten teacher’s
implementation of appropriate practices in her classroom were chal-
lenged by the families of the children she taught. Studies were marked
with TISDAP when it was reported that the teacher had personal strug-
gles, such as questions, doubts, or conflicting ideals when implementing
developmentally appropriate practice (see Table 2). Both codes mark
instances that affect the teacher’s/administrator’s ability to implement
developmentally appropriate practices. Once this edited template was
finalized, it was used to recode the data set (see Table 3 for how studies
were coded).
Deductive Codes
Categories Codes
Teachers’ Instructional
Practices
TIDAP—Teacher’s instruction identified as develop-
mentally appropriate practices
TICDAP—Teachers’ instruction identified as contrast-
ing with DAP
Apparent Influence of
Teacher’s Instruction
on Students’ Cognitive
Development
TIPISCD—Teacher’s instruction appears to positively
influence students’ cognitive development
TINISCD—Teacher’s instruction appears to negatively
influence students’ cognitive development
Inductive Codes
Category Codes
Apparent Struggles of
Teachers with DAP
TESDAP—Teachers’ external struggles with DAP
TISDAP—Teachers’ internal struggles with DAP
Table 2. Qualitative Metasynthesis Code Templates
Teachers College Record, 115, 120304 (2013)
15
Developing First- and Second-Order Themes
After completing the deductive and inductive coding process, the coded
data were examined to identify first- and second-order themes that ap-
peared across these studies. The findings presented in this article un-
pack each of these themes in more detail. First-order themes represent
a general analysis across the studies to search for commonalities (See
Table 4 for the frequency of codes appearing across the data set). The
primary impetuses for this work were to investigate whether teachers/
administrators were using developmentally appropriate practices and/or
practices contrasting with DAP, and then, how such practices might fa-
cilitate learning opportunities for their students’ cognitive development.
By examining these research questions, two first-order themes emerged.
The first was titled “Teachers engage in both DAP and practices that con-
trast with DAP,” and the second was “The complexity in how teachers’
practices might influence students’ cognitive development.”
Article TIDAP TICDAP TESDAP/TISDAP
Ginsburg & Amit,
2008 TIPISCD TINISCD
Goldstein, 1997 TIPISCD TESDAP, TISDAP
Goldstein, 2007a TIPISCD TINISCD TESDAP, TISDAP
Goldstein, 2008 *1 * TESDAP, TISDAP
Jackson, 2009 2 TIPISCD, TINISCD
Kurkjian,
Siu-Runyan, &
Abadiano, 2001
TIPISCD
Miranda, 2000 TIPISCD TINISCD
Moon & Reifel,
2008 TIPISCD
Sanders, Deihl, &
Kyler, 2007 * TIPISCD
Schweber, 2008 TIPISCD, TINISCD *
Tarman & Tarman,
2011 TIPISCD TINISCD
Wee, 2011 TIPISCD TINISCD
Table 3. Qualitative Metasynthesis Studies and Their Codes
Notes. 1. An * means that a teacher/administrator’s practice was identified as either being
DAP or CDAP, but there were no instances in which data were provided that addressed
the influence of these practices on students’ cognitive and/or psychosocial development.
2. An empty space in the TIDAP, TICDAP, or TESDAP/TISDAP column indicates that
this type of practice or struggle was not found in the study.
TCR, 115, 120304 Developmentally Appropriate Practice and Cognitive Development
16
When examining these first-order themes, which are related to the in-
fluence of teachers’/administrators’ practices on children’s development,
three second-order themes emerged that went beyond these research
questions (Major & Savin-Baden, 2010). The first second-order theme,
titled “Teachers’ struggles,” ties directly to the two inductive codes about
the apparent struggles of teachers. Tied to this notion of teachers’ strug-
gles was a second theme titled “The slipperiness of DAP.” This theme was
the result of finding that across these studies the notion of what it means
for teachers/administrators to engage in DAP as well as for researchers to
analyze DAP was vague, and in some instances, contradictory. This theme
mimics a critique by others within the field (e.g., Fowell & Lawton, 1992)
that problematize the difficulty of implementing what they see as a univer-
sal construct to a diverse and complex field of practice. The final second-
order theme that emerged out of this analysis of DAP in the U.S. context
was titled “The absence of culture.” Critiques about the absence of culture
in the first two versions of DAP have existed for nearly 20 years (e.g., L. R.
Williams, 1994), and yet, when surveying these peer-reviewed studies, all
Number of
Studies n=12
Percentage
of Total
Teachers’ Instructional Practices
Identified as developmentally appropriate 11 91.7%
Identified as contrasting with DAP 9 75%
Identified as both developmentally appropriate and
contrasting with DAP 8 66.7%
External struggles with DAP 3 25%
Internal struggles with DAP 3 25%
Apparent Relationship Between Teacher’s Developmentally Appropriate Practices
and Students’ Development
Appears to positively influence students’ cognitive
development 9 out of 11 81.8%
Appears to negatively influence students’ cognitive
development 1 out of 11 9.1%
Apparent Relationship Between Teacher’s Practices That Contrast With DAP and
Students’ Development
Appears to positively influence students’ cognitive
development 2 out of 9 22.2%
Appears to negatively influence students’ cognitive
development 6 out of 9 66.7%
Table 4. Summary of Findings of Metasynthesis
Teachers College Record, 115, 120304 (2013)
17
of which were published well after these critiques appeared, only a quar-
ter of them addressed this issue when examining the instruction of young
children (Kurkjian, Siu-Runyan, & Abadiano, 2001; Moon & Reifel, 2008;
Sanders, Deihl, & Kyler, 2007). If culture was mentioned, it was typically
referred to when describing the construct of DAP rather than the research
site or the participants in the study (e.g., Goldstein, 2008).
STUDY LIMITS
The metasynthesis presented in this article addresses a particular set of
questions with a limited set of qualitative data, and this work does fall
prey to many of the methodological concerns over the validity, reliabil-
ity, and generalizability of qualitative research (Denzin & Lincoln, 2003;
King, 1998, 2006; Major & Savin-Baden, 2010). Because, as Denzin and
Lincoln (2000) point out, “Qualitative researchers study things in their
natural settings, attempting to make sense of, or to interpret, phenom-
ena in terms of meanings people bring to them” (p. 3), a key limitation
of this study is that none of this work provides a standardized measure of
cognitive development. Instead, the bearing of teachers’ use of DAP on
student development is based on the reported findings of the research-
er and, in turn, their work does not provide specific measures of this
construct. To avoid identifying any type of causal link between teachers’
practices and children’s development, it is explicitly stated throughout
the piece that these teachers’ developmentally appropriate or contrast-
ing practices might, rather than do, influence children’s development.
Another limit of this study is the use of peer-reviewed studies to im-
prove the quality of this work. While this control for quality reflects a
common practice in the field of qualitative metasynthesis (e.g., Major
& Savin-Baden, 2010; Paterson et al., 2001), it might have such unin-
tended consequences as filtering out research findings that contradict
the best practices within the field. An additional limit of this study is the
overrepresentation of articles written by Goldstein (1997, 2007a, 2008).
Lastly, the goal of this empirical work was to investigate how teachers/
administrators engaging in practices that are or contrast with DAP might
facilitate students’ cognitive development. However, in examining these
issues, the findings of this metasynthesis are affected by what the primary
researchers who conducted these studies examined and focused their at-
tention on in their work. Thus, the empirical work included in this meta-
synthesis not only examines the reported relationship between teachers’
and administrators’ practices on students’ development, but also on how
this theory of practice affected the teachers themselves.
TCR, 115, 120304 Developmentally Appropriate Practice and Cognitive Development
18
TRUSTWORTHINESS
To address these issues and strengthen the trustworthiness of this piece
(Erlandson, Harris, Skipper, & Allen, 1993), three strategies metasyn-
thesists use were employed (Au, 2007; Paterson et al., 2001; Timulak,
2009): ensuring credibility through presenting an audit trail, interrater
reliability, and positioning the researcher.
First, how studies were selected and the process by which the data were
interpreted are detailed in the above (Paterson et. al, 2001; Thorne et
al., 2004; Timulak, 2009). An additional step taken by the researchers to
ensure the credibility of piece (e.g., Finfgeld, 2003) included the elimi-
nation of studies that used the same data set across multiple published
pieces and did not address the research question examined in this piece
(e.g., Goldstein, 2007b).
Second, to confirm the coding process, we sought to measure inter-
rater reliability by having a doctoral candidate in early childhood edu-
cation and a recent graduate of a doctoral program in early childhood
education independently code a sample subset of six of the studies ex-
amined in this study. The findings of their coding were then checked
against the coding of studies presented in Table 3, resulting in the inter-
rater reliability percentages of 79% for the recent graduate and 90% for
the graduate student, which led to an overall interrater reliability rate of
84% for this study.
Finally, the dependability of template analysis is improved when the
researchers are reflexive about their “position, stance, and influence”
in relation to the process of metasynthesis (Major & Savin-Baden, 2010,
p. 82). The researchers approached this study from an interpretivist
framework (Sipe & Constable, 1996) that is rooted in a realist ontology
in which knowledge is generated through social construction (Crotty,
1998). As such, the enactment of DAP “is contingent upon human prac-
tices, being constructed in and out of interaction between human beings
and their world, and developed and transmitted within an essentially so-
cial context” (Crotty, 1998, p. 42). Whereby, the teachers’ and students’
interactions within their programs and classrooms are being observed,
analyzed, and interpreted by the researchers as moments where such
practices either adhere or contrast with DAP, which in turn affect the
students’ cognitive development. Our use of template analysis, which is
rooted in a realist epistemological understanding of the world, makes
this study what Au (2007) terms a “form of realist review” (p. 261). It
reflects the McCormick et al. (2003) argument that, “Rather than provid-
ing a means to greater ‘truth,’ qualitative metasynthesis is another ‘read-
ing’ of data, an opportunity to reflect on the data in new ways” (p. 934).
Teachers College Record, 115, 120304 (2013)
19
FINDINGS
FIRST-ORDER THEMES
Teachers Engage in Both DAP and Practices That Contrast With DAP
When looking at the practices of teachers and/or administrators across
this set of studies, the majority (91.7%) engaged in DAP with their stu-
dents. Such studies either used the language of DAP to identify the
data describing teachers’/administrators’ practices as being appropri-
ate (Sanders et al., 2007), or the researchers demonstrated that teach-
ers could use appropriate practices in complex ways to facilitate student
learning (e.g., Ginsburg & Amit, 2008). For instance, Goldstein (2007a)
stated, “Ann and Jenny used differentiated instruction to respond effec-
tively to the widely varying developmental levels of the children in their
classes” (p. 46). This statement mirrors Tomlinson and Hyson’s (2009b)
argument that, “To help children acquire new skills and understandings,
teachers employ a range of strategies, choosing from and combining
them to suit the goal, the child, and the situation” (p. 154).
Eight of these 12 studies (66.7%) had data demonstrating how these
same teachers and/or administrators who implemented DAP also imple-
mented practices that contrast with DAP. For example, the presence of
both appropriate and contrasting practices in one classroom can be found
through Ginsburg and Amit’s (2008) examination of Daniela teaching a
mathematics lesson to her 3- to 5-year-olds. The lesson involved a big
trip around Daniela’s classroom that taught her students mathematical
language about space and location. Ginsburg and Amit (2008) described
Daniela’s teaching in this way:
Daniela engaged the children in rituals of touching selected ob-
jects with dramatic movements. Although her tone was always
serious, she emphasized the humor of the situation by squeez-
ing in an exaggerated way through tight spots and by navigat-
ing “weird” obstacles. The subtext was that the activity entailed
humor and the absurd. As any lecturer knows, teaching employs
many forms of entertainment, including humor, which Daniela
used partly to amuse the children and partly to keep them on
their intellectual toes. She seemed to encourage the expectation
that one should be alert to odd, unexpected and funny events.
(p. 278)
In this example, Daniela’s teaching mimics Tomlinson and Hyson’s
(2009a) description of effective math instruction for preschoolers, which
TCR, 115, 120304 Developmentally Appropriate Practice and Cognitive Development
20
is, “Engaging to children, consistent with their developmental level, and
focused on the important concepts and processes on which subsequent
math learning will build” (p. 138). While the lesson engaged the students
with important mathematical skills though what Ginsburg and Amit
(2008) term an amusing adventure around the classroom, it was also,
“Not free play, not spontaneous, did not originate from the children,
and did not involve free exploration. It was an adult directed learning
activity. The teacher planned the Big Trip, directed it, and controlled it”
(Ginsburg & Amit, 2008, p. 278). The presence of both appropriate and
contrasting practices in the same classroom muddles the process of dem-
onstrating the influence of DAP on children’s cognitive development;
particularly when both types of practices are present in the same lesson.
Moreover, as the second theme shows, engaging in DAP or contrasting
practices does not always appear to have a positive or negative influence
on children’s cognitive development.
The Complexity in How Teachers’ Practices Might Influence Students’ Cognitive
Development
When examining how the documented practices of teachers/administra-
tors appeared to influence children’s cognitive development, develop-
mentally appropriate practices seemed more likely to positively influence
children’s cognitive development and contrasting practices appeared to
negatively influence it.
As reported in Table 4, 11 of the 12 studies that had teachers engag-
ing in DAP also had data that appeared to demonstrate the impact of
these practices on students’ development. Of those 11, 9 studies (81.8%)
had data that showed how teachers engaging in DAP appeared to posi-
tively impact children’s cognitive development (Ginsburg & Amit, 2008;
Goldstein, 1997, 2007a; Kurkjian et al., 2001; Miranda, 2000; Moon &
Reifel, 2008; Schweber, 2008; Tarman & Tarman, 2011; Wee, 2011). For
instance, Tarman and Tarman (2011) demonstrated how Ms. Christy,
a preschool teacher who worked with 18 four-year-olds, scaffolded her
children’s cognitive learning through her engagement with them in their
dramatic play. In one example, the children
wanted the teacher’s help to write the menu on the paper. Mrs.
Christy asked them what would like to serve in your restaurant
[sic], and she wrote all food lists that they wanted to serve. She
also suggested them making price list to see how much money
costumers need to pay [sic]. Nick said “like a real restaurant!”
After getting the menu with price list, Nick took it and put it on
Teachers College Record, 115, 120304 (2013)
21
the table and said “Keaton, now you can choose what you want
to eat from our menu.” As it should be understood from this
observation notes, teacher involved right on time to make learn-
ing happening [sic] and prevented possible conflicts by directing
them in the right direction without interrupting or changing the
original topic of the play. (p. 331)
This example demonstrates the importance of teachers helping their
students move from their current level of cognitive development to a
higher level through play (Vygotsky, 1933). Gmitrová & Gmitrov (2003)
note that when teachers, such as Ms. Christy in the above example, enter
the play process with their students, they can potentially push children’s
cognitive development forward.
Even so, there was an instance in the analysis where a teacher’s engage-
ment in DAP seemed to have a negative influence on children’s cog-
nitive development (Schweber, 2008). In her analysis of Mr. Kupnich’s
exploration into the Holocaust with his third-graders, Stevie, a student
in the class, told Schweber that he was “too young to learn about the
Holocaust,” and stated that the unit “had aged him” (p. 2108). At the
heart of this issue is not the practice of the teacher, but rather, the con-
tent being taught to the student. Schweber (2008) frames this apparent
negative influence on children’s cognitive development as an issue of
“curricular creep” where content from the upper grades is slipping into
the lower ones, which she argues needs to “be curtailed” from the class-
room (p. 2108). She contends that third graders are too young as a group
to study a topic such as the Holocaust in detail. Such an argument further
illuminates the complexity in tying particular practices to children’s cog-
nitive development.
In contrast, where there appeared to be a positive impact of teach-
ers’ developmentally appropriate instructional practices on children’s
cognitive development, 6 out of 9 studies (66.7%) provided data where
the teachers’ contrasting practices looked as if they negatively impacted
children’s cognitive development (Ginsburg & Amit, 2008; Goldstein,
2007a; Jackson, 2009; Miranda, 2000; Tarman & Tarman, 2011; Wee,
2011). For instance, when documenting the actions of Kylie, a kindergar-
tener in Ms. Walker’s class, Jackson (2009) noted,
Kylie approached Ms. Walker for help with the spelling word
task for the day. She asked, “What word is this?” Ms. Walker re-
sponded, “If you had been listening and paid attention during
directions, you would know what the word is.” She then told Kylie,
“The word is “lend.” Kylie walked back to her desk with a look
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22
of embarrassment, continuing to look back at the teacher. Later,
Kylie was having difficulty with the spelling sentences. (p. 7)
Ms. Walker’s inappropriate response to Kylie’s request for help ap-
peared to have led her to have difficulty in completing this academic
task. Jackson’s example of Ms. Walkers’ unwillingness to help Kylie with
her spelling, as well as the work of other researchers (e.g., Wee, 2011),
reveals the ways in which children respond to their teachers when they
engage in practices that contrast with DAP. These researchers use their
findings to argue against such practices. In Jackson’s work, she uses Ms.
Walker’s contrasting practices to push the reader to question how such
inappropriate learning experiences affect children’s development.
Lastly, even though Ms. Walker’s contrasting practices seemed to
negatively affect her children’s cognitive development, she and Sanders
et al. (2007) provided instances where teachers’/administrators’ use of
contrasting practices might have had a positive influence on children’s
cognitive development. For example, Sanders et al. (2007) noticed that
many of the programs they observed would engage in the following:
Strong didactic instruction at all of the centers, including those
where the directors articulated a full endorsement of DAP. The
directors and teachers frequently engaged children in drill work
that concentrated on numbers, colors, letters, writing the first
and or last names and craft activities that were uniform with very
little child choice. The adults managing these activities, howev-
er, presented them in a very fun, animated and warm manner.
The children were attentive, not fidgety, and very engaged with
the directors or teachers who lead the activities. The concept
of child-centered curriculum at a majority of the programs was
transformed into make [sic] academics fun for the kids. (p. 399)
Sanders et al. (2007) stated that these activities are appropriate be-
cause the teachers made them fun and engaging. Yet, when examining
appropriate literacy practices with preschoolers, Tomlinson and Hyson’s
(2009a) point is that a developmentally appropriate literacy activity is
more than just children being engaged in the lesson. It also involves
the children contributing to the lesson, and the teacher tailoring his/
her instruction according to each child’s needs (p. 168). According to
Tomlinson and Hyson (2009a), child-centered instruction involves more
than simply making the children happy.
In all, these first-level themes reveal that when teachers engage in DAP
with their students, there appears to be a positive impact on their cogni-
tive development. A negative effect on children’s cognitive development
Teachers College Record, 115, 120304 (2013)
23
seems to occur when teachers engage in practices that contrast with DAP,
but there are instances where these contrasting practices might positively
influence children’s cognitive development.
SECOND-ORDER THEMES
Teachers’ Struggles
In analyzing the studies included in this metasynthesis, three second-
order themes emerged from analyzing this data set. The first, titled
“Teachers’ struggles,” emerged from the inductive codes that identified
instances where the teachers had internal and external struggles with
the implementation of DAP in their classrooms. A quarter of the stud-
ies documented external struggle for teachers with implementing DAP
(25%), and those same three studies also documented internal struggles
for these same teachers (Goldstein, 1997, 2007a, 2008). While only
Goldstein documented these struggles for teachers, other peer-reviewed
studies that did not meet the criteria for study selection have also shown
such struggles (e.g., Buzzelli, 2005; Wohlwend, 2007).
The internal struggles of the teachers Goldstein (1997) studied in her
work centered on the instructional decisions they made. For instance,
when discussing Martha’s curricular decision making in her multiage
classroom, Goldstein noted,
Martha is strongly convinced that the value of meeting the needs
of each child as a whole child far outweighs any obligation or
responsibility to the content being taught. This is rooted in her
personal interpretation of DAP, which emphasizes the unique
needs of each individual student. Yet it is Martha alone who
determines what those needs are: She has chosen the theme of
study, determined the goals of each activity, and set expecta-
tions for each child without involving the children themselves in
any of these processes. This is particularly ironic given Martha’s
sense that the specific content of the curriculum is not of crucial
importance—as she said, “Content knowledge or fact knowledge
is somewhat secondary to me than process knowledge and/or the
experience of just having tried things out.” This suggests there
would be nothing to lose in letting the students play a role in
curriculum construction or evaluation. (Goldstein, 1997, p. 19)
For Martha, who Goldstein (1997) identifies as a staunch advocate of
DAP, there is a tension between how she conceptualizes what it is she does
with her children in their classroom and how she puts such conceptions
of DAP into action within her teaching. Since teachers are encouraged to
TCR, 115, 120304 Developmentally Appropriate Practice and Cognitive Development
24
be active decision makers in both the 1997 and 2009 revisions of DAP, it
may be their own interpretations and implementations of DAP that cre-
ate the tension Goldstein illuminates. Whether teachers can in fact recog-
nize this tension in their teaching is a difficult question to answer. Yet, as
Goldstein (1997) points out, “Martha’s struggles with internal contradic-
tions in her practice remind us that providing exemplary early childhood
education is an on-going process” (p. 21). According to Goldstein (1997),
effectively engaging in DAP on a consistent basis requires teachers to
commit “to reflection, and opportunities for continuing professional de-
velopment” so that they can improve their practice and ensure they are
providing their students with appropriate learning opportunities (p. 21).
Externally, teachers across Goldstein’s work struggled with such issues
as not having enough time to provide in-depth investigations into the
content they were studying, pressure from parents to engage in particu-
lar types of learning activities with their students (e.g., worksheets), and
expectations from school or district administrators to incorporate differ-
ent types of curricula and/or learning experiences into their classrooms.
For instance, Goldstein (2008) uses a statement by Ann, a kindergarten
teacher, to document her resistance to pressure from her school district
to engage in practices she did not deem developmentally appropriate.
She notes that Ann said, “I don’t want [the district] telling me what to
do . . . or [telling me] to adopt those kinds of practices that I’m not sold
on” (p. 461). In this case, as well as across all three pieces, Goldstein
points out that it is ultimately the teachers who decide how to respond to
these external and internal pressures. To be clear, in documenting these
struggles, Goldstein (2008) consistently argued across both of her studies
that as an observer, she “elected not to focus on whether the teachers’
practices meshed with my own understanding of DAP” (pp. 467–468).
The Slipperiness of DAP
These documented struggles with DAP by teachers and the difficulty
faced by Goldstein to avoid intertwining her conceptions of DAP with
her participants’ conceptions point to the next second-order theme that
emerged in this metasynthesis, and that is the difficulty of bounding this
construct to easily identifiable characteristics. These variations in under-
standing the construct of DAP manifested themselves in two ways: re-
searchers stating that contrasting practices were appropriate and stating
that appropriate practices contrasted with DAP, and researchers finding
DAP limiting rather than supporting the teacher’s work with children.
These struggles by the researchers in naming a learning activity as be-
ing appropriate or contrasting with DAP demonstrate the difficulty of
marking an activity as being DAP. As mentioned in the above, Sanders
Teachers College Record, 115, 120304 (2013)
25
et al. (2007) identified the use of didactic instruction and worksheets
in classrooms, which do not take into account the role of the child in
the learning process (Tomlinson & Hyson, 2009a), as being appropriate.
Conversely, Schweber (2008), in her analysis of Mr. Kupnich’s teaching
of the Holocaust to his third grade students, identified his appropriate
practices as contrasting with DAP and argued that his instruction of the
Holocaust demonstrates that “any subject area, even one as serious and
complex as genocide, [can] be taught to young children” (p. 2110). Yet,
Schweber believes that the experiences of these children in her study
demonstrate that such content should not be taught. Across both instanc-
es, the data either do or do not align with the principles of DAP, and yet,
the researchers argue against such an understanding of the construct.
The Absence of Culture
While there have been those in the U.S. and abroad who have critiqued
DAP for its lack of emphasis on culture (e.g., Mallory & New, 1994), the
final second-order theme was the lack of discussion by these research-
ers about students’ cultural backgrounds in relation to the teachers’/
administrators’ use of DAP. The majority did not examine the role of
children’s cultural backgrounds within their descriptions and/or analy-
sis of the classroom environment or instructional activity they observed.
While a rival hypothesis (Yin, 2009) to this lack of emphasis on culture
might be that these studies used the second edition of DAP (Bredekamp
& Copple, 1997), NAEYC’s position on the importance of culture in chil-
dren’s development and learning has not changed between the 1997 and
2009 documents. Both documents state under its core principles that,
“Development and learning occur in and are influence by multiple social
and cultural contexts” (see Bredekamp & Copple, 1997, p. 12; Copple &
Bredekamp, 2009, p. 13).
In this metasynthesis, only three studies did address the issue of cul-
ture and its influence on children’s development: Kurkjian et al. (2001),
Moon and Reifel (2008), and Sanders et al. (2007). Kurkjian et al. (2001)
and Moon and Reifel (2008) examined the ways in which teachers could
address children’s various cultural needs through DAP. For instance,
Kurkjian et al. (2001) examined how one teacher interpreted and op-
erationalized developmentally appropriate literacy practices within her
Head Start classroom. They use this analysis to generate a discussion
about how developmentally and culturally appropriate literacy practices
may be understood and applied in real-life settings. Moon and Reifel
(2008) use their kindergarten teacher’s beliefs about play as a spring-
board to consider what it means to implement DAP with children from a
range of cultural backgrounds.
TCR, 115, 120304 Developmentally Appropriate Practice and Cognitive Development
26
The Sanders et al. (2007) piece is different from the other two in that
these researchers used their examination of the beliefs and practices of
African American preschool directors to offer suggestions to further in-
corporate culture into the current conception of DAP. They commented,
A potentially effective way to incorporate the diversity mandates
of DAP is to include knowledge of the community through per-
spective—taking experiences and exposure to the history of
communities of color within the United States. This goes be-
yond, families sharing cultural practices or developing an un-
derstanding of different cultural traditions. Instead, effective use
of cultural context to inform practice should engage teachers
and directors to “walk in the shoes of” as well as to integrate the
historical contexts of a particular community into their practices.
(p. 404)
This argument to “walk in the shoes” of local communities, which mim-
ics Moll and González’s (2004) idea of developing the funds of knowledge
within a community, is similar to the implications put forth by Kurkjian
et al. (2001) and Moon and Reifel (2008). Combined, these studies want
researchers and practitioners to ensure children and their families’ cul-
tural backgrounds are a central feature of their work.
DISCUSSION
When reflecting on the findings from this metasynthesis (McCormick et
al., 2003), the data reveal that the teachers/administrators in these stud-
ies are more than likely to engage in DAP, and in all but one instance
(Jackson, 2009), teachers/administrators who engaged in contrasting
practices also engaged in DAP. These findings are significant because
they show that different types of teachers can implement DAP across a
range of contexts with a variety of students. DAP is not a single form of
practice that can only be implemented by a specific type of teacher or
with particular kinds of students. For instance, DAP can be implement-
ed by teachers in high-stakes teaching environments (e.g., Goldstein,
2007a), and it can be adapted to meet the needs of diverse communities
(e.g., Sanders et al., 2007).
Yet, it is the flexibility in the application of this construct that can lead
to the implementation of practices that are both appropriate and contrast
with DAP within the same classroom or even the same lesson. Moreover,
Schweber’s (2008) maturationist view (Meisels, 1999) of children, which
links the age of children to what should and should not be taught to
them, led her to question Mr. Kupnich’s teaching of the Holocaust. This
Teachers College Record, 115, 120304 (2013)
27
demonstrates how the role of a researcher can affect whether or not a
practice or set of practices within an empirical study can be shown to be
developmentally appropriate or not. This flexibility in either the imple-
mentation or interpretation of DAP makes it a challenging construct to
mark and/or measure with a specific tool in relation to particular types of
cognitive development. Thus, using a range of measures and/or methods
of data collection appears to be a more appropriate strategy to document
the influence of this type of practice on children’s development.
When looking at the influences of teachers’/administrators’ appropriate
and contrasting practices on children’s cognitive development holistical-
ly, which is a central issue for those interested in creating early learning
programs that prepare children for school success, DAP appears more
likely to have a positive effect on children’s cognitive development while
practices contrasting with DAP seem more likely to have a negative ef-
fect. While such relationships were found in this data set, there were also
instances where contrasting practices seem to have a positive influence
on children’s cognitive development (e.g., Jackson, 2009). As Lareau
(2000) points out, qualitative data helps extract the meaning of events,
and in these instances, the meaning behind why these teachers do what
they do might supersede whether or not they are considering whether
these practices are DAP or not. For instance, Sanders et al. (2007) found
that the African American program directors in their study intentionally
taught their students academic content didactically to “buffer against the
future injustices that their students will experience due to their status as
a racial ethnic minority” (p. 400). By doing so, they stepped beyond the
typical bounds of DAP so that they prepared their students for the reali-
ties they would face in their local public education community. This is
not to state that Sanders and her colleagues were arguing for practices
that contrast with DAP. Rather, they found that the administrators they
interviewed were willing to engage in activities with their students that
may contrast with DAP at a developmental or individual level, but did
so to ensure their students were prepared for the events they would face
outside the bounds of their early education program.
Again, this conflation of appropriate and contrasting actions within
the same learning activity highlights the difficulty that can arise with the
inherent broadness in this construct, as well as it being implemented
across a range of cultural contexts. Such issues also highlight why it may
be difficult to find a robust set of data that overwhelmingly links DAP to
increased cognitive development in children.
This broadness, or what we term slipperiness, within the construct of
DAP is troubling for those who support this theory of practice and advo-
cate for its use in early childhood and elementary school contexts. This is
TCR, 115, 120304 Developmentally Appropriate Practice and Cognitive Development
28
particularly true in the U.S. context, where the success of publicly funded
programs and their continued/potential funding is determined by spe-
cific measures of child development that are seen as necessary for ready-
ing young children for elementary school (e.g., Improving Regulation and
Regulatory Review of Head Start, Exec. Order No. 13563, 2011). The find-
ings of this metasynthesis suggest that the field of early education could
benefit from a more clearly defined conception of DAP that allows not
only teachers, but also researchers, to more easily identify practices as
being appropriate or not. NAEYC has been working toward this in its re-
visions (Copple & Bredekamp, 2009) and in the publications it supports
(e.g., Epstein, 2007) by being more specific about what such practices
look like in a range of early learning settings. Such moves are supported
by empirical work that shows a positive relationship between the inten-
tionality of teachers’ instruction and children’s academic achievement
(Bogner, Raphael, & Pressley, 2002; Howes et al., 2008; Landry, Swank,
Smith, Assel, & Gunnewig, 2006).
Still, the three core principles of this construct, which focus on indi-
vidual, developmental, and cultural aspects of children, have not been
revised. Moreover, this document continues to center its conception of
teachers’/administrators’ instructional decision making on a normative
understanding of child development. Such principles can be difficult to
interpret as well as implement in early education and elementary school
systems that measure children’s development in specific ways and expect
them to achieve particular results (e.g., Brown, 2011). Furthermore, us-
ing the term development to capture the complexity of children’s reactions
to their interactions with their teachers, or even their growth across a
range of domains, adds to the difficulty in associating particular prac-
tices with change in children’s knowledge, skills, or learning. Delineating
or specifying what development does and does not mean could assist
researchers, teachers, and others in understanding how particular prac-
tices affect children as well as what their responses to these interactions
might reveal.
This is not to say that the field must give up on what Goffin (2007)
terms the “the foundational principles that are . . . pivotal to what de-
fines early care and education and its unique contribution to children’s
healthy learning and development” (p. 600). Rather, refining the term
could benefit those who advocate for and support DAP politically by be-
ing able to tie particular aspects of this construct to specific policy solu-
tions. Empirically, a refined conception of this construct could also im-
prove the consistency by which qualitative and quantitative researchers
identify particular teachers’/administrators’ practices, which then can be
linked to particular aspects of children’s development.
Teachers College Record, 115, 120304 (2013)
29
Additionally, because DAP is implemented across a range of cultural
contexts in the U.S., the finding of the absence of culture across this set
of qualitative studies is important for a number of reasons. First, an in-
creasing amount of work is demonstrating that children’s cultural back-
grounds play a significant role in their development (e.g., Fleer, 2006;
Rogoff, 2003). Knowing such information would help researchers and
educators better understand the relationship between students’ back-
grounds and the influence of DAP on their development. It would also
help ensure that this theory of practice can positively influence the de-
velopment of all children rather than worry about with which children, if
any, are developmentally appropriate practices “most or least effective”
(Van Horn et al., 2005, p. 348). This issue is particularly important since
the children entering school are becoming increasingly diverse. For in-
stance, in 11 states across the U.S., culturally and/or linguistically diverse
(CLD) children are now the majority among their peers (U.S. Census
Bureau, 2010), and by 2023, CLD children are projected to become the
majority nationally (Frey, 2011). Still, three studies in this metasynthesis
that did examine the issue (Kurkjian et al., 2001; Moon & Reifel, 2008;
Sanders et al., 2007) demonstrate that teachers/administrators can use
DAP to address children from various cultural or linguistic backgrounds
and can adapt this theory of practice to different contexts.
Alongside the need for a more refined conception of DAP and the spec-
ification of the cultural contexts in which this construct is implemented,
the findings from this study point to a need for those who are document-
ing the influence of DAP on child development to pay attention to the
sociopolitical context in which a teacher’s practices are implemented.
While the inductive codes for teachers’ internal/external struggles with
DAP appeared only a limited number of times across the data set, they
do demonstrate that multiple factors, such as the expectations of policy-
makers, families, and administrators, can impact the practices teachers
engage in when teaching their students.
In sum, 25 years after its initial publication (Bredekamp, 1987), only
a small amount of peer-reviewed qualitative studies have examined the
influence of DAP on teachers/administrators and their students. DAP
emerged at the beginning of a political era in the U.S. when both the fed-
eral government (e.g., National Commission on Excellence in Education,
1984) and state governments (e.g., National Governor’s Association,
1986) focused their reform efforts on improving student outcomes.
Bredekamp (1987) hoped that NAEYC’s publication of this document
would help policymakers and early educators understand what practices
with young children would appropriately guide them toward these out-
comes. For those who see such practices as the means by which teachers
TCR, 115, 120304 Developmentally Appropriate Practice and Cognitive Development
30
can ready their students for school success, it is unfortunate that there
are not more peer-reviewed published qualitative and quantitative stud-
ies that support such claims. Such work may have altered the contin-
ued push by policymakers to make early education more like elementary
school (Stipek, 2006).
CONCLUSION
Given the central findings of this study, it appears that DAP can posi-
tively influence children’s cognitive development. Still, it is uncertain as
to what these benefits mean in terms of student outcomes, which has
become a fundamental issue for publicly funded early education pro-
grams. This metasynthesis points to the need for further research that
uses a range of measures to examine the influence of DAP on children
rather than teachers. Such work should pay attention to children’s cogni-
tive development as well as attend to children’s cultural backgrounds. By
doing so, it could help inform the fields of early and elementary school
education about the impact of DAP on children’s development so that
educators across both contexts can provide instructional practices that
ready young children for school success.
Acknowledgments
The authors would like to thank the editors of this journal and the anonymous
reviewers for their thoughtful suggestions in strengthening this article.
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CHRISTOPHER P. BROWN is a Fellow in the Judy Spence Tate Fellowship
for Excellence and an Associate Professor in the Early Childhood
Program Area of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the
University of Texas at Austin. His research interests include studying the
impact of policymakers’ high-stakes reforms on the various aspects of the
field of early childhood education. His recent work examines how early
childhood educators are responding to the challenges of teaching a di-
verse population of children in high-stakes contexts. Recent publications
include: Brown, C. P., & Gasko, J. W. (2012). Why should pre-k be more
like elementary school? A case study of pre-k reform. Journal of Research
in Childhood Education, 26, 264-290. Brown, C. P. (2011). Searching for
the norm in a system of absolutes: A case study of standards-based ac-
countability reform in pre-kindergarten. Early Education and Development,
22(1), 151-177.
YI-CHIN LAN is a doctoral candidate in the department of Curriculum
and Instruction at The University of Texas at Austin. Her research inter-
ests mainly focus on investigating the influence of parental support in
early science learning, novice and veteran teachers’ conceptual change
in science teaching, and children’s development of sense of place. She is
one of the translators of Preschool pathways to science: Facilitating scientific
ways of thinking, talking, doing and understanding (Gelman, Brenneman,
Macdonald, & Roman, 2009) and Analyzing qualitative data: Systematic ap-
proaches (Bernard & Ryan, 2010) (Mandarin Chinese edition).
... The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) formally defined DAP in the mid-1980s (Bredekamp, 1986), with subsequent revisions in the mid-1990s and 2000s (Bredekamp & Copple, 1997;Copple & Bredekamp, 2009). DAP became the "foundation for all NAEYC's work including-publications, training programs, conferences, accreditation of child care centers, and more" (NAEYC, 2019) leading to worldwide influence (Brown & Lan, 2013). In its first definition, prioritizing a child-centric approach was clear. ...
... Responding to debate, later revisions continued to emphasize active, child-initiated approaches but acknowledged that "strategic teaching, of course, can enhance children's learning" (Bredekamp & Copple, 1997, p. 13) and might be needed in order to reduce educational inequality (Copple & Bredekamp, 2009, p. x) as well as "the need to move beyond the either/or polarizing debates in the early childhood field" (Bredekamp & Copple, 1997, p. vi, emphasis in the original). Despite NAEYC's-and the field's-movement away from a sharp dichotomy, other writing suggests that debate between child-initiated and direct instruction styles persists, in part due to continued accountability pressures from the elementary and secondary levels as well as high expectations for public ECE investments to reduce school readiness gaps (Brown & Lan, 2013;Brown, 2009;Elkind, 2015;Fuller, 2007;Goldstein, 2007;Hirsh-Pasek, Golinkoff, Berk, & Singer, 2009;Pyle & Danniels, 2015;Ranz-Smith, 2007). ...
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***Share Link URL providing free access to the article – Click on this link before August 16, 2019 to be taken directly to the final version on ScienceDirect to read or download: https://authors.elsevier.com/c/1ZIQV39HNKT~TR *** Using institutional theory as a framework, we examined how professional norms and regulatory standards were associated with the instructional styles and curricular approaches that directors reported were used building-wide in centers serving 3- and 4-year-old children. We conducted a census surveying 229 child care center directors located in 31 ZIP Codes on the west and north sides of Chicago. We also completed in-depth interviews with a subsample of 29 directors. Most directors reported a highly child-initiated instructional style, although these directors were evenly balanced among those that reported little, some, or very much direct instruction. Directors who were highly embedded in the field of early care and education (ECE)—signaled for instance by their ECE certificates—most often reported highly child-initiated styles combined with little direct instruction. The majority of directors reported using Creative Curriculum, and those highly exposed to regulatory standards—such as the requirements of their local public funding grantees—were most likely to use it exclusively. In-depth interviews revealed some directors were able to explain the rationale and mechanisms through which a child-initiated instructional style supported child learning, whereas others pointed to outside requirements when justifying their center-wide style and curriculum. We encourage future studies regarding how and why ECE programs adopt various pedagogical approaches in the context of their institutional environments.
... Assessment supports learning by providing children, teachers, and families with feedback, and is a key way in which teachers get to know and understand learners in their classrooms. High-quality early childhood assessment is informed by developmental and cultural contexts (Bredekamp & Copple, 1997;Brown & Lan, 2013). Children ages 2 through 6 are learning about the world around them, how to control their movements, and how to become members of a school community. ...
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Assessments provide teachers with essential information regarding children’s learning. Alternative education systems offer insight into ways that assessments can be redesigned to be developmentally appropriate to particular ages, including unique stances on what defines assessment, who should assess, and what should be assessed. We examined themes of early childhood assessment through a review of Reggio Emilia, Montessori, and Waldorf (also called Steiner). Each of these three alternative systems emphasize assessments designed to understand every child’s learning as unique. Many of the practices used align with the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s (NAEYC) current recommendations regarding developmentally appropriate assessment. There is a clear acknowledgement that engagement, not just specific knowledge, is particularly important to assess. To assess engagement, classrooms must be carefully constructed learning environments that implement individualized assessment techniques, such as observation. As children engage in developmentally appropriate experiences, teachers assess their individual learning patterns. Specific components of each system contribute to effective and informative assessment, for example collected artifacts and documentation from children’s work (Reggio), activities and materials designed to show children when an error is made (Montessori), and participation in classic stories (Waldorf). The increased focus these systems place on assessing during interactive learning experiences answered NAEYC’s current recommendations regarding assessment as well as on-going calls in education reform for a child-centered approach to learning.
... Using template analysis (King & Brooks, 2017) enabled a focus on self-conscious emotions and related appraisals by including tentative a priori themes within a coding template that was revised and expanded in response to the data. Template analysis was originally developed for thematic analysis of primary data though there are some examples of its use for qualitative synthesis (e.g., Au, 2007;Brown & Lan, 2013). Analysis of most papers fitted with King and Brooks' (2017) description of using template analysis within a contextualist framework, given the focus on interpretation of experience and interactions in particular contexts. ...
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Research on women's experiences of infant feeding and related moral discourse suggests that self‐conscious emotions may be highly relevant to breastfeeding support interactions. However, the emotional impact of receiving support has not been fully explored. The aim of this review is to re‐examine qualitative UK research on receiving breastfeeding support, in order to explore the role of self‐conscious emotions and related appraisals in interactions with professional and peer supporters. From 2007 to 2020, 34 studies met criteria for inclusion. Using template analysis to identify findings relevant to self‐conscious emotions, we focused on shame, guilt, embarrassment, humiliation and pride. Because of cultural aversion to direct discussion of self‐conscious emotions, the template also identified thoughts about self‐evaluation, perceptions of judgement and sense of exposure. Self‐conscious emotions were explicitly mentioned in 25 papers, and related concerns were noted in all papers. Through thematic synthesis, three themes were identified, which suggested that (i) breastfeeding ‘support’ could present challenges to mothering identity and hence to emotional well‐being; (ii) many women managed interactions in order to avoid or minimise uncomfortable self‐conscious emotions; and (iii) those providing support for breastfeeding could facilitate women's emotion work by validating their mothering, or undermine this by invalidation, contributing to feelings of embarrassment, guilt or humiliation. Those supporting breastfeeding need good emotional ‘antennae’ if they are to ensure they also support transition to motherhood. This is the first study explicitly examining self‐conscious emotions in breastfeeding support, and further research is needed to explore the emotional nuances of women's interactions with supporters.
... Learning can be conducted by using a variety of fun approaches, so as not to keep children stuck on the spot and listening for a long time [32]. Dress-up game does not require a long time to play because this game only pairs the attributes into the picture of male and female figures. ...
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The objective of the research is to explain the process and learning outcomes in utilizing role play which can improve gender identity in play group, Bekasi with child research subject amounting of 15 people. The data analysis technique used in this research was a qualitative and quantitative analysis. Qualitative analysis was conducted on data collected through field note, observer sheet action, interview note, and documentation record. Analysis of quantitative data used a calculation of how much percentage increase gender identity after the action through using role playing activities. The implementation process of learning using role playing activities both of teacher and children showed an increase. In the first cycle of learning with a teacher, it had undertaken the percentage rate which reached 50.7% and 81.8% in the second cycle. Based on the quantitative research data, the qualitative research data showed that learning using role playing activities might improve introduction of gender identity aged 3-4 years old. The implication of this research is, process for early childhood learning, especially introduction of gender identity should use the role-playing activities, giving motivation, giving stimulation, giving example, and giving problems. KEYWORDS Gender Identity, Role-playing, Early Childhood
... Decontextualized teaching approaches in which target knowledge or skills are disembedded from complex contexts via presenting letters or words individually have had positive outcomes for young children's initial word reading acquisition and reduce later reading difficulties (Bus & van IJzendoorn, 1999;National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 2000). However, the appropriateness of decontextualized teacher-directed approaches found effective for learning literacy skills such as word reading and vocabulary has been broadly questioned for use with preschool children, with specific concerns regarding potential negative effects on both learning and engagement (C.P. Brown & Lan, 2013;C.S. Brown, 2014), and amid teachers' endorsement of contextualized practices (Lee & Ginsburg, 2007). In this study, we investigated how contextualization, defined as the extent to which letter instruction is embedded within meaningful discourse and words, affects learning and engagement during alphabet instruction of dual-language learners (DLLs) and non-DLLs in preschool. ...
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The authors investigated the influence of teaching letter names and sounds in isolation or in the context of storybook reading on preschool children's early literacy learning and engagement during instruction. Alphabet instruction incorporated paired‐associate learning of correspondences between letter names and sounds. In decontextualized treatment activities, children practiced saying the letter names and sounds that matched single letters presented on cards and in letter books, and speeded recognition of taught letters. In contextualized treatment activities, letter names and sounds were taught and practiced during oral reading of storybooks, recognizing letters in children's printed names, and speeded recognition of taught letters in words. Subjects were 127 preschool children, including 48 dual‐language learners, in five public schools with low‐income eligibility thresholds. Children were randomly assigned within classrooms to small groups randomly assigned to one of the two treatments. Research assistants provided 10 weeks of instruction, 12–15 minutes per day, four days per week. Both groups made statistically significant growth from pretest to posttest on measures of alphabet learning and phoneme awareness. Children in the decontextualized treatment small groups had statistically significantly higher gains than did children in the contextualized treatment small groups on taught letter sounds and phonemic awareness measured by identification of initial sounds in spoken words. There were no treatment differences between dual‐language learners and non‐dual‐language learners. Children's engagement during instruction was statistically significantly higher in the decontextualized treatment. Findings support explicit decontextualized alphabet instruction emphasizing the relation between verbal letter labels and letter forms that enlists paired‐associate learning processes.
... While empirically, the ability of DAP to improve children's academic performance has been questioned (e.g. Brown and Lan, 2013;Van Horn et al., 2005), it does exist as a hallmark of effectiveness within ECE (e.g. Alford et al., 2016;Bredekamp, 2016). ...
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The global shift toward neoliberalism, which frames the education of young children through markets, credentials, and individualism, creates a range of challenges for those who call for and seek out democratic teaching practices that strive to address the sociocultural worlds of the children in their programs. This article begins to address this issue. It does so by examining the findings from a qualitative case study that investigated how the practical conceptions of sample of early childhood graduate students in the United States were affected by developing and implementing a learning activity with children that reflected issues central to their lives in and/or outside their classrooms. Investigating and analyzing their experiences provide members of the early childhood community with steps they might take to assist early educators in framing their roles as teachers through democratic conceptions of practice that they can then implement within their early education context.
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The primary purpose of this study was to determine the Developmentally Appropriate Practices (DAP) for learners’ literacy in public elementary schools in the Naga City division. It was geared towards identifying whether teachers’ educational practices are age-, individually-, and socio-culturally-appropriate. A mixed-method comprised of descriptive-evaluative, correlational, and development research designs was employed in this study. The participants were the kindergarten teachers in the Naga City division. The survey questionnaire was the research instrument used in data gathering and focus group discussions (FGDs) were conducted to validate the data obtained from the questionnaire. Secondary data were secured to identify the learners’ literacy levels. The statistical tools used in the study were frequency counting and getting the percentage, weighted mean and ranking, and Pearson Product Moment Correlation. Findings showed that the utilization of DAPs along the three principle-components was “Extremely Important,” as assessed by the respondents. The learners’ literacy level in kindergarten was found to be “Close to Approximating Mastery.” The teachers’ use of DAPs was significantly related to learners’ literacy level. The DAPs implementation’s best practices were generally based on kindergarten teachers’ teaching strategies and school-teacher-pupil-related factors and considered the primary concern for implementing the DAPs. A training design was developed based on the teachers’ needs to enhance and sustain the DAPs implementation among kindergarten schools.
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Research Findings: This article investigates how a sample of families, educators, researchers, advocates, and policymakers (n = 93) made sense of how children are and should be taught in kindergarten. By examining their conceptions of instruction that define kindergarten in this current era of standards and accountability and what opportunities for change they might support, the findings of this study reveal how these stakeholders sought to redefine what they viewed as a program that has become a joyless race to the test. They worried that there will be both short- and long-term consequences for kindergartners if schools fail to address their concerns over how children are being taught. Practice or Policy: To further reform kindergarten, the stakeholders in this study appeared willing to engage in a public dialogue that could help raise and sustain social and political awareness about how kindergarten has changed so that a possible paradigmatic shift in schooling can emerge that goes beyond the traditional debates over play versus academics. These stakeholders also seemed to be committed to instructional changes in kindergarten, such as guided play, that offer children more choice and voice in their learning, exposure to advanced academics, fostered their social, emotional, and physical development, and nurtured their curiosity as learners.
Many within early childhood and early childhood teacher education are concerned about the changed kindergarten. At the same time, students entering early childhood teacher education programs were educated in these changed schooling systems that emphasize standards and accountability, which can impact the ways in which they make sense of teaching children. Thus, there appears to be a need to better understand how early childhood teacher educators and teacher candidates are making sense of the various types of learning experiences children are and should be having in kindergarten and what this means for the early childhood teacher education process. In this article, we begin to address this issue by sharing findings from a study of how samples of teacher educators and early childhood teacher candidates in Texas and West Virginia made sense of the instructional practices taking place in the changed kindergarten and whether they felt they were appropriate for kindergartners. Such findings bring to light the similarities and differences in their sensemaking and offers the chance to consider strategies to facilitate further cooperation between them so that they can work together to ensure all children engage in high-quality learning experiences that prepare them for success in and out of school.
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This study investigates the claim that in states where elementary education (ELED) and early childhood education (ECED) licenses share the same grades, the preponderance of generalist teachers in the early grades hold ELED rather than ECED licenses. We investigated this question by sending information requests to 43 states where stand-alone, generalist ECED and ELED licenses overlap in Grades K, 1, 2, and/or 3. Responses from the 25 states that supplied this information indicate that a high percentage of teachers in overlapping grades in these states hold ELED licenses only in kindergarten (77%), 1st grade (76%), 2nd grade (79%), and 3rd grade (82%). Further, states with overlaps in grades 1–2 and 1–3 had substantially higher percentages of teachers with ECED licenses than states with K-3 overlaps: 32% more in 1st grade and 28% more in 2nd grade. The current results support calls for states to restrict the early grades to teachers with ECED licenses only and to base their credentialing standards on developmental science.
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As prekindergarten becomes a more common feature in elementary school, little is known about how early childhood stakeholders are incorporating their child-centered practices into the standards-based accountability reforms that define elementary school. This article addresses this issue by presenting a case study that examined the implementation of a prekindergarten assessment tool. The tool was to align the academic achievement expectations of the prekindergarten program with those found in the corresponding elementary schools. The tool initially failed to address district stakeholders' conceptions of the amount of academic skills and knowledge students were to obtain in prekindergarten. It was edited to correct this problem. Examining this case reveals the complexity that early education stakeholders face in merging their conceptions of practice with elementary school policies that require all children to acquire mandated standards. It also offers the chance to consider the steps both sets of stakeholders might take to support the integration of prekindergarten into elementary school.