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Untangling Teacher-Child Play Interactions:

Do Teacher Education and Experience Influence Good-Fit Responses to Children's Play?


Principal Investigator: Jeffrey Trawick-Smith
Student Researcher: Traci Dziurgot

Awarded Outstanding Research Study by the National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Education

In a study of teacher-child play interactions, 1500 video clips of teachers intervening in children's play were analyzed to determine the "goodness-of-fit" between child play needs and teacher responses to them. In this secondary analysis, researchers examined whether experience and education level would affect teachers' accuracy in choosing intervention behaviors that matched the need for support in play. Experienced teachers with master's degrees were found to engage in more good-fit interactions. In interviews, they identified a variety of ways that content and pedagogical knowledge from coursework interact with experience to enhance effective play intervention. Assistant teachers with experience, but only associates or baccalaureate degrees were somewhat less accurate in selecting good-fit interventions. Student assistants who were just beginning baccalaureate degree programs were least likely to match their behaviors to children's play needs and engaged in more poor-fit interactions than the other two groups. Interviews suggest that high education/high experience teachers were more likely to consider overall purposes and long-term outcomes of intervention.

See more Previous Studies

  • Trawick-Smith, J. (2012). Teacher-child play interactions to achieve learning outcomes in preschool: Risks and opportunities. In R. Pianta, S. Barnett, L. Justice, & S. Sheridan (Eds.), Handbook of Early Childhood Education. New York: Guilford.

    Trawick-Smith, J. (2011). Teacher-Child Play Interactions to Promote Learning in Preschool: Implications for Teacher Preparation and Professional Development. Reflexión E Investigación: Revista Editorial del Congreso por una Educación de Calidad, 4, 75-86.

    Trawick-Smith, J., & Dziurgot, T. (2010). Untangling Teacher-Child Play Interactions: Do Teacher Education and Experience Influence "Good-Fit" Responses to Children's Play? Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, 31(2), 106-128.