Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Studies


College of Education

First Advisor

Angela Baum


The purpose of this research was to gain insight into preservice teachers’ beliefs about play in kindergarten, and explore differences in beliefs about play between teachers just beginning their education program and those who are completing their degree. The study examined the beliefs of two groups of preservice teachers: one at the beginning of their early childhood education program (beginning students) and one at the end (teacher candidates). This study used a mixed methods approach including a survey with both Likert scale and open-ended questions as well as individual interviews. Data were collected at the beginning of the fall semester from beginning students and then at the end of that same semester from teacher candidates enrolled in a program preparing them for state teacher certification in early childhood education. Quantitative data analyzed through SPSS and SAS to find frequencies, descriptive statistics and t-tests were used to compare the data generated by the preservice teachers’ answers. Thematic coding was used for gaining insight into the open-ended responses and interview data. Analyses indicated that both beginning students and teacher candidates reported similar beliefs regarding play in kindergarten. Comparing responses of these preservice groups revealed subtle yet significant differences between students’ beliefs about appropriate instructional strategies and evaluation strategies in the kindergarten classrooms. Preservice students in this study seemed to have a “struggle of balance” regarding instructional strategies in kindergarten. Individual interviews supported these findings and also gave preservice teachers opportunities to identify influences impacting their beliefs about play in kindergarten. In light of these findings, this study resulted in several implications for early childhood teacher educators.


© 2016, Michelle Taylor Clevenger