Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Earl Thomas


In a Midwest state, child care teachers who enter the workforce with only a high school diploma or GED credential are not required to complete child development training before being placed in a classroom. Child care teachers need foundational knowledge to provide quality care and education to young children. The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to explore how early-career child care teachers with no advanced education in child development experience training upon entering the workforce. Personal narratives are scarce in existing research, and understanding the perspectives of child care teachers provided an opportunity to consider appropriate training and career support. The research questions examined participants’ perceptions of their initial training experiences and explored their thoughts about ongoing training needs. Using an interpretative phenomenological approach, narrative data were collected from 8 participants through semistructured interviews. Knowles’s theory of andragogy emerged as the theoretical framework. Data analysis included organizing the data; developing codes, categories, and themes; and interpreting the findings. Findings indicated that early-career child care teachers rely on observational learning and desire training that incorporates adult learning principles. Participants described ineffective online training that does not support the acquisition of knowledge or skills. The resulting project was a policy recommendation suggesting the development of a statewide endorsement program that includes preservice and inservice training and peer coaching. The adoption and implementation of the child care endorsement can drive social change in support of ongoing national and statewide efforts to improve child care quality and outcomes for child care teachers and the children they serve.