Date of Conferral
Dr. Alice Eichholz
Researchers have determined that field experience is crucial in education preparation programs, yet little information is available about field experience within online early childhood education (ECE) programs. Educators who work in online ECE programs need to understand how to facilitate field experience effectively. The purpose of this qualitative interview study was to understand the processes, procedures, and experiences of instructors who facilitate preservice teachers' field experience in online ECE programs. A constructivist framework was used to examine facilitation practices. Nine instructors from online ECE programs in the United States participated in 2 semistructured interviews that lasted approximately 1 hour each. A combination of a priori and open coding was used to support inductive analysis. Themes included communication, mentoring, collaboration, parity between online and live facilitation of field experiences, roadblocks, innovations, assessment, and reflection. Participants reported that a constructivist approach was crucial for online facilitation. Four key findings included an intentionality of design for parity between online and live facilitation, active engagement in responding to facilitation challenges, embedded constructivism in curriculum design, and a necessity for online options despite preference for live field supervision. Social change implications for ECE instructors include sharing of best practices to improve facilitation of field experience in online ECE programs and acknowledgement of need for research focused on quality of field experience. Enhancing the quality of field experiences could better prepare teachers, which would benefit young children in ECE classrooms.