Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)


Early Childhood Education

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Jane Broderick

Committee Members

Pam Evanshem, Amy Malkus, Carol Trivette


This multiple baseline single-case design study explored the influence that training in observation and interpretation had on teachers’ meaningful conversations with children. Three preschool teachers (1 from public school and 2 from Head Start) were trained using the Cycle of Inquiry System (Broderick & Hong, 2011) that informs of ways to observe and interpret children’s thinking to facilitate developmentally appropriate conversations.

Teachers documented and interpreted observations of children engaged in small group play. Teachers were surveyed pre-training and post-training about observation, interpretation, curriculum, the teacher’s role, and the purpose of teacher interactions with children. Teachers were interviewed to clarify researcher questions and videotaped before the training to establish a baseline on their use of productive conversations with children. Videotaped observations after the training showed the effect of training on teachers’ conversations. Field notes from mentoring and videos were collected to provide insight into the influence of the training. A social validity questionnaire was used to determine if participants found value in the process learned.

Data were evaluated for the 3 participants using graphs to show evidence for the rate of change. The Cycle of Inquiry Intervention increased teachers’ productive conversations with children. Pre-surveys and post-surveys indicated that teacher’s perceptions were positively affected. Teachers perceived productive conversation as important to documenting and interpreting children’s thinking. Their beliefs about children’s theory development and awareness about the role of conversation in the process changed after the intervention. They value observations and documentation to learn about children’s thinking as a way to engage in conversations.

Social validity was used to determine if the goals of training were acceptable, if the training was valued, and if it would influence participants’ teaching. Participants indicated that the Documentation Record (DR) and recording observations was worthwhile and that they would use what was learned during training to increase productive conversations. Two of the 3 participants were concerned about consistency regarding the DR form, indicated it was worthwhile to complete the Interpretation of Children’s Knowledge and Thinking (ICKT) form, but were not sure of their consistency. Curriculum constraints and lack of support could influence their consistency concerns.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.