Title page for ETD etd-05182005-134353

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Su, Yuling Lianna
Author's Email Address yulings@vt.edu
URN etd-05182005-134353
Title Understanding Teachers’ Experiences Working with Young Children from Diverse Cultural and Linguistic Backgrounds
Degree PhD
Department Human Development
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Burge, Penny L. Committee Co-Chair
Rogers, Cosby Steele Committee Co-Chair
Benson, Mark J. Committee Member
Stremmel, Andrew J. Committee Member
  • qualitative inquiry
  • teacher-child relationships
  • teacher education
  • multicultural education
Date of Defense 2005-05-05
Availability unrestricted
The purpose of this phenomenological study was to illuminate the experiences of six teachers in southwestern Virginia who are working with toddlers and preschoolers from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds. These young children were those whose first language is not English and their parents were from countries other than the United States. A phenomenological research method was chosen because the main focus of the study was to learn about teachers’ experiences and that method is a tool to explore the essence of human experiences. The study was guided by the main research question: What are teachers’ experiences working with these children? Semi-structured interviews were conducted with six toddler and preschool teachers from two day care and development centers. Observations of classroom teaching added vital information to the data collected through interviews. Other tools for data collection included field notes and a researcher’s journal. These tools were used to gain a deeper understanding of this phenomenon. Strategies for examining the data for this study were narrative, thematic, and constant comparative analysis. Five major themes emerged from the teachers’ experiences: (1) Types of teachers’ experiences, which include learning, challenging, interesting and fulfilling experiences, (2) The interaction among experiences and changes in teaching strategies and self-perception, (3) Teachers’ relationships with these children, (4) Teachers’ relationships with these parents, and (5) Common resources for teachers working with these children. The findings suggested recommendations for future research and practice in the field of early childhood education. The study also generated stories and thick, detailed descriptions of teachers’ experiences. The study was intended to inspire other teachers in similar settings to share stories and encourage colleagues.
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