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Title:Cultivating social competence in young children: teachers' beliefs about and practices involving the development of children's social competence
Author(s):Jung, Eunyoung
Director of Research:Walsh, Daniel J.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Daniel J. Walsh
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Bost, Kelly; Ostrosky, Michaelene M.; Rodkin, Philip C.
Department / Program:Curriculum and Instruction
Discipline:Elementary Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):social competence
teachers' beliefs and practices
children's conflicts
Abstract:The purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of teachers’ beliefs and practices about the development of young children’s social competence in American culture. To that end, I explored how teachers define social competence, what their values are regarding the development of social competence, and how they implement their beliefs during daily classroom routines. I adopted mixed methods for this study, which was triangulated by the use of multiple cases, multiple informants, and multiple ways of gathering data. First, to understand teachers’ beliefs and practices at a cultural level, I conducted a survey of 120 early childhood education teachers. Then, to better understand their responses, I interviewed ten of those teachers. From the teachers interviewed, I selected two preschool teachers and two kindergarten teachers whose daily practices I observed in the classroom setting, and with whom I conducted in-depth interviews. I found that the teachers defined social competence in limited ways, placing a high value on respect for others’ bodies, self-expression, self-control, independence, and conflict avoidance. To help children develop social competence, the teachers quickly intervened in children’s conflict situations, emphasizing classroom rules and suggesting teacher-focused solutions. To cultivate young children’s social competence, these key suggestions emerged from this study. First, children need to exercise their autonomy. Secondly, arguments and conflicts between children can be teachable moments through which children can learn how to solve problems on their own. Finally, children develop social competence through relationships with others. Implications of these findings, limitations of this study, and future studies are discussed further.
Issue Date:2014-09-16
Rights Information:Copyright 2014 Eunyoung Jung
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-09-16
Date Deposited:2014-08

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