Date of Conferral
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
Early childhood programs enhance children's knowledge and skills when teachers intentionally engage with children during free play. Preschool teachers' ability to notice and capitalize on teachable moments has been questioned in the literature. The purpose of this mixed-methods study was to examine the efficacy of professional development designed to increase teachers' awareness of teachable moments in their informal interactions with young children during independent play, and teachers' intentionality in responding to those opportunities. The study was grounded in Vygotsky's principles of socially constructed learning, including teachers adjusting their intentional interactions to accommodate the thinking of learners. Qualitative data were collected using reflective journals kept before and after the vignette-based professional development sessions and focus group responses by 11 preschool teachers in the Southwestern United States. Chi square analysis of qualitative findings revealed significant positive change in teacher intentionality for the themes of daily schedule, awareness, and scaffolding. Vignette-based professional development coupled with reflective journaling appears to be an effective method to increase teacher awareness of intentional teaching, which may positively influence the education of preschool children.