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Kwangwon Lee - Assistant Professor, Education

Ph.D., Indiana University


Kwangwon LeeHow did you come to Eastern?

“One of the reasons I chose Eastern was because I saw how much early childhood education is valued here. During my first visit, not only was I impressed by the modern facilities, such as the Center for Early Childhood Education (CECE) and the Child and Family Development Resource Center (CFDRC), but I was also impressed by the varied expertise of the early childhood faculty and the resources available to them.”

What is your favorite course to teach?

“Of all the courses I teach, perhaps my favorite is Play and Social Development. This early childhood education (ECE) course is really unique because it integrates our ECE teacher candidates’ first clinical experience. Some weeks we meet in the classroom and have a lecture, discussions and hands-on activities. During other weeks, the candidates are in their first clinical experience, including at the CFDRC and other local ECE centers, engaging with children and collaborating with a host teacher. This course integrates concepts of play, social communication, diversity and disability in early childhood education, all topics that I’m passionate about.”

Research focus

“At Indiana University, I worked as a research associate for many years on a multi-state project to determine the effectiveness of an early intervention for children with autism. This research experience led me to my doctoral research and my current research interest in early intervention methods for promoting nonverbal social communication in young children with autism during interactions with their caregivers. With the help of student research assistants, I recently conducted a study on promoting turn taking in young children with autism through a caregiver-mediated approach. Through our research, we implemented a pilot telehealth intervention for a toddler with autism and his mother. We published our study in the Early Childhood Education Journal.”

What do you like most about teaching at Eastern?

“What first attracted me to Eastern was the university’s liberal arts mission. I went to a small liberal arts university as an undergraduate and firmly believe that a high-quality liberal arts education prepared me to work in the field. My professors and university supervisors genuinely cared about my education and provided hands-on, meaningful experiences. At Eastern, I can provide a similar education to our teacher candidates. Our Education Department has a long history in the state of Connecticut of preparing effective, competent educators, and I appreciate that I am now a part of that commitment to quality teacher education.”

Through my course in Play and Development, I get the opportunity to see our candidates begin the journey of developing their teaching philosophy and competencies.

Kwangwon Lee teaching class

Teaching philosophy

“A core principle of my teaching philosophy is providing substantive and constructive feedback to all student written submissions. I believe that providing feedback helps students improve their academic work, develop as scholars and practitioners, and make stronger connections to theory and practice. I also believe that assignments should be meaningful, effectively support critical thinking, and make practical connections. Because we have a current and projected teacher shortage in Connecticut and throughout the country, it is critical that I prepare candidates to be effective, competent future educators.”

Memorable moments at Eastern

“The most memorable moments for me at Eastern have been seeing teacher candidates develop as educators across the years that I teach them, meet all their university and state requirements, and then finally walk across the stage at graduation. It always gives me a sense of pride to see them achieve their goals and go on to their future careers and other life endeavors.”

Career advice to students

“Early childhood education (ECE) can be a tremendously rewarding field. Early childhood educators help shape children’s development in multiple domains from an early age. It is important for anyone wanting to work in this field to have an appreciation for children. However, an interest in working with children should not be the only reason to enter the field. Any student seeking to enter ECE should also want to further their knowledge of important ECE practices, concepts, and standards. A truly effective early childhood educator should be competent in all of these areas while also demonstrating empathy, compassion, and care for young children.”

Life advice to graduates

“After college, everyone takes a different life path, and that path may not be what we always expect. Don’t be afraid of change and be willing to take chances!”

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Thank you so much for making my child development class so great. The class itself had so much information to process and get through but you made it happen and made it easier to understand. Thank you for always being so kind and for teaching me all these new things that I never knew.
Student Quote
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