Date of Conferral







Patricia N. Anderson


Little was known about how online Child Development Associate (CDA) credential recipients developed practical expertise in early childhood education (ECE) without the benefit of an apprenticeship. Learning the practice of teaching from a qualified more knowledgeable other (MKO) through an apprenticeship is a feature of teacher preparation in public school contexts but is missing in preparation for child care teachers. The purpose of this basic qualitative study was to explore how online CDA recipients developed practical expertise in ECE without a supervised apprenticeship. Vygotsky’s social construction of knowledge was the conceptual framework of the study. The research question addressed how online CDA recipients described the development of practical expertise in ECE without the benefit of an apprenticeship. Ten child care teachers who earned a CDA online were interviewed. Data were analyzed using thematic analysis. The findings revealed ECE teachers had little opportunity to be observed by others in teaching contexts and instead relied primarily on trial and error and self-initiated actions to gain practical expertise in teaching. Implications of this study include creation of apprenticeship experiences for assistant teachers by the lead teacher in their classrooms, and recreation of an apprenticeship element that was part of the original CDA program. This study filled a gap in the literature regarding the apprenticeship of child care teachers and may contribute to positive social change by demonstrating the need for ECE apprenticeship experiences that might contribute to better teaching and improved outcomes for young children.