Investigating demographic characteristics and teaching perceptions of Turkish preschool teachers

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  • This article was downloaded by: [Florida State University]On: 20 October 2014, At: 23:23Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

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    Investigating demographiccharacteristics and teachingperceptions of Turkish preschoolteachersAbdlkadir Kabadayi aa Faculty of Education, Elementary Department , SelcukUniversity , Konya, TurkeyPublished online: 14 Oct 2008.

    To cite this article: Abdlkadir Kabadayi (2010) Investigating demographic characteristics andteaching perceptions of Turkish preschool teachers, Early Child Development and Care, 180:6,809-822, DOI: 10.1080/03004430802445501

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  • Early Child Development and CareVol. 180, No. 6, July 2010, 809822

    ISSN 0300-4430 print/ISSN 1476-8275 online 2010 Taylor & FrancisDOI: 10.1080/03004430802445501http://www.informaworld.com

    Investigating demographic characteristics and teaching perceptions of Turkish preschool teachers

    Abdlkadir Kabadayi*

    Faculty of Education, Elementary Department, Selcuk University, Konya, TurkeyTaylor and Francis LtdGECD_A_344718.sgm(Received 9 December 2007; final version received 25 August 2008)10.1080/03004430802445501Early Childhood Development and Care0300-4430 (print)/1476-8275 (online)Original Article2008Taylor & Francis0000000002008Dr AbdulkadirKabadayiakkabadayi@hotmail.com

    It is clear that teacher qualifications significantly affect the quality of teachingbeliefs and education provided to young children and that higher qualifications inpreschool teachers have both short- and long-term positive effects on theirstudents. This study was built on pre-existing literature and new data to analysethe current socio-demographic characteristics and perceptions of teachingcandidates entering the field of Preschool Education in Turkey. A questionnaireconsisting of fixed-response and Likert-style questions was administered to allentry-level pre-bachelor and bachelor preschool student teachers enrolled in theVocational School of Social Sciences (n = 120) and Faculty of Education ofSelcuk University (n = 107) during the 20042005 academic year as well ascooperating teachers (n = 90) currently working in Konya. The aim was to obtaininformation regarding their background characteristics and perceptions ofpreschool teaching as a profession. Results indicate that significant differencesexist between pre-service (pre-bachelor and bachelor) and cooperating preschoolteachers perceptions of the teaching profession. Implications for pre-service andcooperating teacher education and further research are discussed.

    Keywords: pre-bachelor; bachelor; cooperating teachers; teachers perceptions;Turkish context; demographic characteristics

    Introduction1

    Researchers have investigated the teachers effectiveness at every level in schoolsettings from many aspects. Therefore, it is important to assess perceptions of earlychildhood cooperating and pre-service teachers because they may serve as a contex-tual filter through which they screen their classroom experiences, interpret themand adapt their subsequent classroom practices (Clark & Peterson, 1986). In thisprocess, cooperating and pre-service teachers perceptions play a significant role andact as the mirror through which behaviour is reflected in preschool education.Researchers, who are interested in teaching perceptions of teachers, have found atleast minimal support for the supposition in that early childhood educators withmore education typically hold different beliefs and perceptions, and may behavedifferently from teachers with less education (Elicker, Huang, & Wen, 2003;McMullen & Alat, 2002).

    *Email: akkabadayi@hotmail.com

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  • 810 A. Kabadayi

    Background for the study

    Current research confirms findings from the past two decades that teacher qualifica-tions significantly affect the quality of teaching, beliefs, perceptions and educationprovided to young children (Lazar, Darlington, Murray, Royce, & Snipper, 1982;Oden, Schweinhart, & Weikart, 2000; Phillips, Mekos, Scarr, McCartney, & Abbott-Shim, 2000; Whitebook, Sakai, Gerber, & Howes, 2001) and that higher qualificationsin preschool childrens teachers contribute to more positive short- and long-termoutcomes for these children (Kontos & Wilcox-Herzog, 2001).

    It was discovered that some progress was made in identifying many factorswhich were found to influence the philosophical beliefs and perceptions adoptedby preschool teachers (Buchanan, Burts, Bidner, White, & Charlesworth, 1998;Hao, 2000; McMullen, 1999). Educational background is one such mediator ofbeliefs and perceptions in early childhood that has been identified in the researchand should be studied more closely because it can influence policy, teacher educa-tion reform and advocacy initiatives. Educational background, in this context,refers to both the level of overall education and the type of coursework or contentcovered during that education. Some studies in the literature conclude that theoverall level of education attained is the most significant educational backgroundfactor in the adoption of developmentally appropriate practices (DAP) philosophy(Kontos & Wilcox-Herzog, 2001; Morgan et al., 1994). In other studies, it is notthe level but the type of education that matters most (Cassidy, Buell, Pugh-Hoese,& Russell, 1995); teachers who have taken coursework or engaged in trainingspecific to the acquisition of the knowledge and skills believed to be connected toworking effectively with young children have been found to engage in morebehaviours associated with a DAP philosophy (Howes, 1983; Scarr, Eisenberg, &Deater-Deckard, 1994; Snider & Fu, 1990). Studies have also been directed at theemotional dimension of pre-service teacher education (Beach & Pearson, 1998;Hedrick, Mcgee, & Mittag, 2000) and training in other professions that requirefield experience (Oermann & Sperling, 1999; Pelech, Stalker, Regehr, & Jacobs,1999).

    This study is conducted to build up the knowledge base about characteristicsand perceptions of prospective preschool pre-service and cooperating teachers. Thefocus of the vast majority of research on pre-service teacher education has been thestudent teacher (Coultas & Lewin, 2002; Sumsion, 1998; Walkington, 2005), withvery limited attention to the cooperating teacher in practicum. Therefore, furtherinvestigation is needed to explore the matter both from the cooperating and thepre-service teachers (pre-bachelor and bachelor) perspectives and to display thesimilarities and differences in teaching perceptions of them since the kinds ofperceptions that pre-service and cooperating teachers have provide a context todiscuss ways to enhance the learning in preschool settings in different socio-cultural contexts.

    The present study explores the background characteristics of those still teachingand currently entering preschool teacher training, and their personal perceptions aboutpreschool teaching as a career by using Turkish context. To guide this study, thefollowing research questions are investigated: (1) Who comes for preschool teachingin Turkey? (2) Is there a difference among cooperating and pre-service teachers (pre-bachelor and bachelor) perceptions of the teaching profession? (3) What are theimplications for improving preschool education?

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  • Early Child Development and Care 811

    Method

    Participants

    The population for this descriptive study was pre-service teachers majoring inpreschool teaching and pre-bachelor students involving child development and educa-tion at Selcuk University. Established in 1975, its name comes from the SelcukEmpire whose capital was the city of Konya where the main campus of the universityis presently located with 85,000 students in Turkey and of which towns cooperatingpreschool teachers are currently teaching in. The sample was pre-service teachersenrolled in a method of teaching preschool education from the department of facultyof education with 9158 student enrolments in both undergraduate and graduate levelprogrammes related to preschool, elementary and secondary education, pre-bachelorstudents enrolled in Child Development and Education department of VocationalSchool of Social Sciences, which is one of the most crowded schools with 6300students including 14 departments and the preschool teachers who currently teach indifferent preschools and nursery schools and kindergartens in Konya. The sample (n= 317) included 107 preschool student teachers, 120 pre-bachelor students of theChild Development and Education department and 90 cooperating preschool teachers.From the outset, they were informed about the purpose of the study; they were toldthat the researcher was interested in finding out about their perceptions of teachingand that there was no right or wrong answer to the items.

    Procedure

    Research instrument

    In this study, a new adapted form of the questionnaire developed by Saban (2003a,2003b) was used to collect the data. The questionnaire consisted of fixed-response andLikert-style questions and included two main parts. The first part of it comprised onlyfixed-response questions to obtain information about the socio-demographic charac-teristics (i.e. age, schooling and socio-economic status) of the participants (see Table1). The second part of the questionnaire included only Likert-style statements toexpose participants perceptions of preschool teaching as a profession. It started withthe following heading: Here is a list of statements designed to explore how teachercandidates, like you, might perceive themselves in relationship to the teaching profes-sion or what they might consider as important in teaching. There is no right or wronganswer because each teacher candidate has his or her own concerns, opinions or valuesabout education. Please read each statement carefully and ask yourself: When I thinkof myself as a future teacher, what do I believe in most? (Saban, 2003a, 2003b). Alist of 12 statements about some aspects of the teaching profession was presented inthe order shown in Table 2 and the participants were required to indicate their level ofagreement for each statement based on a four-point Likert scale (1 = stronglydisagree, 2 = disagree, 3 = agree and 4 = strongly agree). Cronbach alphareliability coefficient of the second part (Table 2) of the questionnaire including state-ments is .67 (Saban, 2003b), which is just acceptable (Rizvi & Eliot, 2005).

    Analytic techniques

    In the process of analysing data, descriptive statistics including frequency distribution,percentile statistical analysis and standard deviation are used to report the data

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  • 812 A. Kabadayi

    Table 1. Demographic information about the participants (n = 317).

    Characteristics n %

    Academic statusPre-bachelor 120 37.9Bachelor 107 33.8Cooperating teacher 90 28.4

    GenderMale 5 1.6Female 312 98.4

    Age1718 60 19.019 54 17.020 44 13.921 24 7.622 and above 135 42.4

    Mothers educationPreschool Primary school 217 68.5Middle school 41 12.9High school 18 5.7Post-secondary 24 7.6None (e.g. illiterate) 17 5.3

    Fathers educationPreschool Primary school 133 42.0Middle school 56 17.7High school 67 21.1Post-secondary 60 18.9None (e.g. illiterate) 1 0.3

    Mothers occupationHousewife 279 88.0Teacher 20 6.3Civil servant 3 0.9Retired 7 2.2Other (e.g. dead) 8 2.5

    Fathers occupationSelf-employed 38 12.0Teacher 52 16.4Civil servant 54 17.0Trader 51 16.1Retired 62 19.6Farmer 20 6.3Other (e.g. unemployed, dead) 40 12.6

    Note: n = number of participants; % = percentage of participants.

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  • Early Child Development and Care 813

    Tabl

    e 2.

    Perc

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    (n =

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    )

    Coo

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