Date of Conferral

1-1-2011

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Education

Advisor

Deanna Boddie

Abstract

Many preschool students enter kindergarten without the oral language and phonetic awareness skills necessary for academic success. Qualitative research is also limited about the instructional practices preschool teachers use to improve the literacy skills of their students. The purpose of this study was to explore how teachers used developmentally appropriate instructional practices to improve the literacy skills of preschool students. The conceptual framework was based on the theories of Piaget and Vygotsky in relation to language development. A multiple case study research design was used. Participants included 6 teachers from 3 different preschool programs in an urban school district in the eastern United States. Data were collected from individual interviews with preschool teachers, observations of literacy instruction in classrooms, and related program documents. For the single case analysis, coding and category construction were used to analyze the interview data, and descriptive statistics were used to analyze the observation data. A content analysis was used to analyze the documents. For the cross case analysis, data were examined across all cases for emerging themes and discrepant data. A key finding was that preschool teachers used developmentally appropriate instruction to improve oral language, phonological awareness, and written expression and supported play through learning centers; however, limited teacher--child interaction was found in relation to quality of feedback and language modeling. This study contributes to positive social change by providing educators with a deeper understanding of the need to improve the literacy skills of young children.